Nothing normal about domestic and family violence

As domestic violence deaths increase, it is ‘normal' to see rallies and TV interviews, promises made and some money announced. It’s time to take away this ‘normal‘ and build a better normal.

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We have heard a lot in the past week about Domestic and Family Violence (DFV) news; we hear it’s an epidemic.  This year there has been a woman killed every four days in Australia. We have promises from political leaders that there will be change.  There have been rallies held and many an interview on TV; each speaker offering their solutions and ideas of what needs to be done. This is normal.

We have heard it all before!  Those of us who work with clients experiencing domestic and family violence, it is all too normal.  

Hearing that 1 in 4 women are affected by DFV from the age of 15 is confronting; but it gets worse when we consider 41% of the population have experienced violence from a partner (Australian Institute of Health & Welfare); that’s nearly half of us!  

These numbers come from reported incidents; it is commonly accepted around 80% of victims never report; so, they are not captured by any of these statistics; nor are incidents before the one incident that makes the report.  We know too well that DFV is hardly ever an isolated incident and this is all without the other impacted parties like children, parents etc.  

DFV is affecting us all in some way; either personally, in someone we know or someone around us who is suffering in silence. It is truly an epidemic, but the epidemic didn’t start last week, or with the last death, the 55 deaths last year or the deaths in the years before that.  

It has always been there and keeps growing. In the last ten years I have heard deaths go from nearly one woman a week to one woman every four days.  As trends go, it speaks for itself.  It has become normal.

Domestic violence
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese attends a No More rally in Canberra (Source: X)

With each public outcry, more promises are made, some money is announced; but still the system continues to fail so many people.  

The problem is far more complicated than just throwing money at it, but it does start with money! 

It has become usual for the entire sector in itself to be at war fighting to keep whatever funding there is.  Services are forced to redirect professional workers towards developing marketing strategies and attending forums to ensure they remain relevant.  This too is the norm. 

Within this epidemic is an underbelly; the vast difference in support for women who are from Culturally & Linguistically Diverse (CALD) backgrounds.  If the reporting is low in the general population, it is a lot lower for CALD women. 

Violence against women
Protesters at the Sydney rally (Source: X)

The case work complexity is higher with CALD clients; the vulnerability greater and with a much lower level of support network than for someone raised in Australia.  It can take months of work and advocacy to get someone’s situation under control, let alone into recovery and healing.  This too is normal.

The systems between countries are so vastly different and yet a flyer, fact sheet or pamphlet is considered sufficient to bridge the gap of knowledge as you arrive in Australia.  

The result is more and more CALD men (and women) ending up in the legal system; once in, then there is no going back.  Families are broken, financial distress increases and children are traumatised, but nobody tells you or warns you of these consequences until the damage is done.  Again normal. 

It really is time to take these “normals” out of Domestic, Family & Sexual Violence.  None of it is normal, none of these systemic issues should be allowed to be considered normal and nobody should be left thinking being abused is somehow normal.  IT IS NOT NORMAL.

For those on TV, making promises, or pledging change, there is only one request – take away this normal and build a better normal.  

Start anywhere but start somewhere, be it the funding model, be it more culturally informed practice, more training for professional case workers, more early intervention; the list is endless.  Anything, that takes us away from defeatedly accepting these norms or we will never get out of this epidemic. 

If you are in fear for your safety, call 000. If you want to first talk through your issues, call 1800 RESPECT.

READ ALSO: Domestic violence awareness: What we can do at an individual level

Kittu Randhawa
Kittu Randhawahttp://www.icsa.net.au
Kittu Randhawa is a senior DFV case manager, specialist in culturally driven abuses and a subject matter expert in Dowry Abuse. She is a cultural consultant, drawing expertise from case management, client services, training frontline workers, working with men who use violence and community engagement.

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