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Facts about domestic and family violence

Fact: When there is violence in a household, children are at risk of emotional and physical harm. Violence can impact on a child’s development, mental health, relationships and brain development, and can have ongoing consequences into adulthood. Children may learn violent behaviours or normalise them and enter into relationships with men who use violence.  

Listen to this podcast of young people tell their stories of living with domestic and family violence

Fact: 1 in 3 women in Australia will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime (Personal Safety Survey, Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012). Research shows 1 in 4 children live with domestic and family violence (The impact of domestic violence on children: A literature review,  Australian Domestic and Family Violence Clearinghouse, 2011).

Fact: Fathers choose to use violence towards mothers. Domestic and family violence is a gendered issue and is caused by the attitudes and behaviours of traditional gender roles and stereotypes of masculinity. Privilege and a sense of entitlement is central to this gendered issue, as the roles and stereotypes can position mothers as father’s subordinates. 

Alcohol and other drugs can lower inhibitions, resulting in an increase in the severity of violent attacks.

There is no evidence to suggest that fathers who use violence are mentally ill. 

Fact: Mothers are always resisting violence, even if you can’t immediately see it. But simply leaving isn’t always an option. Mothers stay with fathers who use violence because:

  • They fear the violence will get worse when they leave, that they will be stalked or harmed, or that their children will be hurt.
  • The most dangerous time for mothers is in the 12 to 18 months after they leave a relationship. During this time, the chances of being killed or seriously injured by a former partner increase.
  • The violent man is using intimidation and control.
  • The mother may believe violence is normal in relationships.
  • Leaving can mean leaving their home, friends, school and community.
  • They are not financially independent or he has control over her share of the money.
  • She is socially or culturally isolated and does not know where to get help.
  • She has had bad experiences with social services in the past or in her country of origin.
  • There are cultural, family or religious pressures to stay with the father and to not report the violence.
  • She is experiencing trauma and subsequent mental health problems due to the violence.
  • She still loves her partner, and wants the violence, not the relationship, to end.

Learn more about how domestic violence harms children in Part 2 Working with children.

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