Domestic violence typically occurs within families, and is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men on an intimate female partner. However, anyone from children to grandparents can be the victim of domestic violence, which is not always physical. Emotional abuse, religious manipulation, economic control and sexual coercion are also forms of violence, and can be equally traumatic for victims. Domestic violence is one of the most underreported crimes in the world. The psychological manipulation that often accompanies prolonged abuse means that many victims struggle to understand or explain what is happening to them. It can also result in a sense of loyalty to the abuser and feeling responsible for or deserving of the abuse.
Domestic violence can have long term impacts on survivors. Mental health struggles, relationship difficulties and physical injuries can cause a lifetime of pain, or lead to intergenerational trauma as children are exposed to their parents’ suffering. Women’s legal services and emergency shelters are on the coalface when it comes to supporting those experiencing domestic violence. These organisations are often critically overwhelmed and underfunded. Across the sector, equally important work is being done by those advocating for legal reform, encouraging education programs in schools, driving cultural change and extending counselling services through helplines, GP’s and drop-in centres.
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