Preventing violence: ‘It’s about emotional, physical and psychological abuse’

An average of more than three women each day are coming forward as victims of domestic or family violence across the region, according to frontline workers.

Far South Coast Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Services coordinator Dianne (her surname is suppressed for privacy reasons) offers free confidential support to victims before, during and after their Apprehended Domestic Violence Order matters have been through the court system.

“The referrals come from the police to us and our figures say we are getting 100 a month from Batemans Bay to Eden and up to Bombala,” Dianne said.

“Legal Aid said figures across the state are down, but it’s statistics, and if it’s not entered as a DV event, it’s not recorded as one.

“There’s also lots of women who think because they’re not being hit it is not DV.”

During her six years on the job she has seen areas of the NSW court system she believes could be better balanced for victims of family violence.

“When someone is charged with intimidation, the accused can represent themselves and put the victim on the stand to cross examine them,” she said.

“It means they relive their trauma. It is hard work going on that stand.”

She said there has been a four-fold increase in the number of people aged over 50 reporting to police, possibly due to increased awareness of the issue of domestic and family violence.

“[Former Australian of the Year] Rosie Batty did an awesome job,” she said.

South East Women and Children's Services’ Staying Home Leaving Violence program manager Caroline Long said recent coverage of high profile allegations in the media is creating a “cultural shift”.

“The cultural shift comes with a lot of lobbying, but it took the courage of the women to come forward,” she said.

“It is about attitudes towards women and what is acceptable, because other men see the behaviour and copy it.

“It’s about emotional, physical and psychological abuse.”

Ms Long said governments need to make the issue of domestic and family violence a priority.

“It comes down to resources, they’ve changed our police boundaries and people are seeing it as a positive because they’ll be getting rid of the top, but the jury is out,” Ms Long said.

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