Domestic Violence and its Consequences

Prime Minister Tony Abbott with anti-family violence campaigner Rosie Batty, who was named Australian of the Year for 2015 on January 25, 2015.(Peter Williams/ICONPHOTO)

Our silence has contributed to the horrible epidemic we now find ourselves in where women feel ashamed to talk about the abuse and the perpetrators go unanswerable for their crimes” - Heidi Davoren

For many years’ domestic violence has often gone unrecognised or ignored by the community. The numerous cases reported, shocking statistics and ineffective laws demonstrates the need for social change in the community. The rate of domestic violence is high and has been increasing since 2009 (Brown et al, 2015). “In 2010, the police responded to over 126,000 incidents involving domestic and family violence” (Brown et al, 2015). Domestic violence kills 36 people each year, “Only 29% of females sought legal intervention in an attempt to stop physical violence by their partner” (Brown et al, 2015). These disturbing statistics clearly reveals that domestic violence is a major issue in today’s society. Although, there are a range of methods available to assist individuals to seek aid, the knowledge of these methods are not recognised by the victims or the community due to the lack of awareness.

Brown discusses the patterns of domestic violence and argues that there is a strong relationship between “socio-economic class, marginality and domestic violence”. (Brown et al, 2015) Research found that “40% of domestic homicide victims and offenders resided in the most socio-economically disadvantaged quintile” (Brown et al, 2015). Brown also noted that the rate for domestic violence was higher among cultural groups including Aboriginal Torres Strait Islanders (ATSI), as “data on the hospitalisation for family violence related assaults found that the rate for ATSI females was 31 times higher than the non-ATSI rate” (Brown et al, 2015) Brown discusses other factors that increase violence, most notably alcohol, unemployment, homelessness and sole parenting under the age of 25.

Attitudes to gender equality and violence against women

As a student at Western Sydney University studying a Bachelor of Laws/Communication, I have acquired a great understanding of the increasing crime rates involving domestic violence and the need for legal change. I am therefore able to study Communications with the advantage of using my writing ability to spread awareness on issues that require improvement. I hope that this article acts as major vessel to spread awareness on the issue of domestic violence and the numerous services available that may decrease and overcome this issue.

This semester I was fortunate enough to visit and observe the Local Domestic Court located in Fairfield. It was shocking hearing the abundant cases involving Apprehended Domestic Violence Orders (ADVO) that have been breached. An ADVO is defined as, “an order made by a court against a person who makes you fear for your safety, to protect you from further violence, intimidation or harassment” (Legal Aid New South Wales, 2017). Although a ADVO is “quick, inexpensive and accessible form of protection”, Sydney WDVCAS statistics states that approximately 18% of clients report a breach of their ADVO’s (Redfern Legal Centre, 2013). One must consider that an ADVO depends on the “individual’s voluntary compliance with the order” and “the victim’s willingness to report any breaches” (Milgate, P et al, 2013). Auerbach argues, “An ADVO’s only really works when somebody is going to follow it. For a recidivist or someone that’s going to reoffend it only is a piece of paper” (Auerbach, 2015). There are numerous cases where the attainment of an ADVO has backfired and resulted in further violence towards the victim.

Smith mentions the case involving Jean Lennon, she was fatally shot five times by her ex-husband standing outside the family court in Parramatta (Smith, 2016). “In her hand was paperwork for an apprehended violence order”, “it was not the first time she had gone to the courts for protection” (Smith, 2016).

Paramedics rush Jean Lennon to hospital after being shot five times outside the Family Law Court, Parramatta, on March 21, 1996.Source:News Corp Australia

Smith also highlighted the case involving Leila Alavi, the 26-year-old woman filed an ADVO against her husband, due to his violent behaviour (Smith, 2016). Leila still received disturbing phone calls consisting of death threats. The victim was visited by her estranged husband outside her workplace, she told her colleagues she would discuss matters with him (Partridge, 2016). However, the victim was found that day stabbed 56 times with a pair of scissors (Partridge, 2016).

Husband arrested in brutal carpark death — Leila Alavi

Furthermore, a case that further demonstrates the ineffectiveness of an ADVO’s is evident through the Rosie Batty case. Auerbach mentions that Rosie “took out an ADVO against her ex-husband Greg before he murdered their 11-year son Luke at cricket practice”. (Auerbach, 2015). Greg frequently challenged intervention orders so that he could visit Luke more often (Davey, 2014). However, Greg was “facing 11 criminal charges and had four unexecuted arrest warrants out against him when he killed Luke” (Blatchford, 2015). One must reflect to whether the Family Court could have intervened by placing stricter visiting conditions as Greg’s mental instability and criminal history did not signify a safe setting for a child (Davey, 2014). Rosie states, “the court orders were worthless when people’s intent are on unleashing violence” (Auerbach, 2015). Author Melisa Davey questions “Could the police, the courts and child protection services have acted differently or co-operated more fully?” (Davey, 2014).

Police were warned before Luke Batty’s death

In addition to this, Jess Hill questions “what could possibly make a man hurt a woman he claims to love” (Hill, 2015). Many women look for reasons on why a man’s abuse may excuse their behaviour. They consider the following reasons: he’s only being overprotective because he cares about me or he’s only having a bad day (Hill, 2015). Victims must recognise that these reasons do not excuse the offenders ‘violent behaviour.

Morgan Steiner tackles the question; why does she stay? Click the video below to understand why?

Why domestic violence victims don’t leave | Leslie Morgan Steiner

An individual must understand that in situations involving violence there is a range of services that provide accommodation, counselling, food support and loans. Baptist Care Relationships Services, located at Campbelltown. Baptist Care “provides support for women and children escaping domestic violence. All of our accommodation is secure, with the location remaining confidential to protect our clients” (BaptistCare, 2015).

BaptistCare’s Whole Of Family Approach To Domestic Violence

Moreover, WILMA Women’s Health Centre “provides low cost health services by women for women in the local Macarthur area” (WILMA Women’s Health Centre, 2015). They provide a range of services including, trauma recovery specialists, healthy lifestyle coaching, and counselling (WILMA Women’s Health Centre, 2015).

Visit the website by clicking on the link below:

There are also culturally appropriate services available such as the Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre. This centre effectively informs the Aboriginal Community on their legal rights, especially in the topics of Domestic Violence and Apprehended Domestic Violence (Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre, 2015).

Visit the website by clicking on the link below:

Wirringa Baiya | Aboriginal Womens Legal Centre: Culturally appropriate services.

Ultimately, the greater awareness of domestic violence will act as a key instrument in allowing one’s knowledge and understanding of this issue to flourish. Followed by creating larger awareness of the numerous services available that may decrease and overcome this issue. The horrific statistics, ineffective laws and numerous cases stated demonstrates the need for social change, in aim to create a safer environment for the community.

Written by Ornilla Shamon

References

Auerbach, T. (2015). Call for war on domestic violence as half of all AVOs fail. Retrieved from

http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/call-for-war-on-domestic-violence-as-half-of-all-avos-fail/news-story/1547f10daf1d62d7a3ea0d55b012864a

Aussie Criminals. (2014). Police were warned before Luke Batty’s death. Retrieved from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVVh_ZG1M3g

Baptist Care. (2016). Baptistcare’s whole of family approach to domestic violence [Video].Retrieved from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6fvjJteQVw&list=PLs8ql-Me_0WZBKWUMrjsf1POHABZ4gakw&index=5

Baptist care. (2017). Supported accommodation. Received from

https://baptistcare.org.au/our-services/community-services/domestic-and-family-violence/crisis-housing/

Blatchford, A. (2015). The “mistakes and missed opportunities” that failed luke batty. Received from

http://www.thecitizen.org.au/analysis/mistakes-and-missed-opportunities-failed-luke-batty

Brown, D et al. (2015). Criminal laws: materials and commentary on criminal law and process of new south wales. (6th Ed) Sydney, Australia: Federation Press.

Davey, M. (2014). Luke Batty: killed by a father no one truly knew. Received from

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2014/nov/02/-sp-luke-batty-killed-by-a-father-no-one-truly-knew

Davoren, H. (2015). Domestic violence and the media: maintaining the veil of silence and secrecy. Received from

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-08/davoren-maintaining-the-veil-of-silence-around-domestic-violence/6455060

Hill, J. (2015). The costs and causes of domestic violence.Received from

https://www.themonthly.com.au/issue/2015/march/1425128400/jess-hill/home-truths

Legal Aid New South Wales. (2017). What is an apprehended violence order? Retrieved from

http://www.legalaid.nsw.gov.au/publications/factsheets-and-resources/apprehended-violence-orders-applicants

Milgate, P et al. (2013). Cambridge legal studies. (3rd Ed) Victoria, Australia: Cambridge university press.

News Corp Australia. (1996). Paramedics rush Jean Lennon to hospital after being shot five times outside the Family Law Court, Parramatta, on March 21, 1996 [Image]. Retrieved from

http://www.news.com.au/national/courts-law/a-history-of-apprehended-violence-orders-failing-australian-women/news-story/980d0cd63bc131b1c7f4c094d4face94

Partridge, E. (2016). Estranged husband stabbed leila alavi 56 times because ‘she did not obey the rule of marriage. Received from

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/estranged-husband-stabbed-leila-alavi-56-times-because-she-did-not-obey-the-rule-of-marriage-20160818-gqvjqd.html

Pasolcer, N. (2015). Husband arrested in brutal carpark death 00:48 [Video]. Retrieved from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oxtFZ122N0

Redfern Legal Centre. (2013). Do apprehended domestic violence orders work?Retrieved from

https://rlc.org.au/article/do-apprehended-domestic-violence-orders-work

Smith, R. (2016). A history of apprehended violence orders failing australian women. Received from

http://www.news.com.au/national/courts-law/a-history-of-apprehended-violence-orders-failing-australian-women/news-story/980d0cd63bc131b1c7f4c094d4face94

Ted Talks. (2013). Why domestic violence victims don’t leave | Leslie Morgan Steiner [Video]. Retrieved from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1yW5IsnSjo

VicHealth. (2015). Attitudes to gender equality and violence against women [Video]. Retrieved from

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8E7RGjk69T4

Williams, P. (2015). Prime minister tony abbott with anti-family violence campaigner rosie batty, who was named australian of the year for 2015 on January 25, 2015 [Photograph]. Retrieved from

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-01-26/rosie-batty-quotes/6046216

Wilma Women’s Health Centre. (2015). Welcome to wilma women’s health centre. Received from

http://www.wilma.org.au/

Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre. (2015). Welcome to Wirringa baiya. Received from

http://www.wirringabaiya.org.au/

Wirringa Baiya Aboriginal Women’s Legal Centre. (2015) Welcome to wirringa baiya [Photograph]. Retrieved from

http://www.wirringabaiya.org.au/