STORIES about domestic violence are challenging for the media.
On one hand we do not want to intrude on people’s privacy, things that happen behind closed doors and in the confines of people’s homes.
On the other domestic violence is an issue that affects so many. If we write about it sensitively, could we help remove some stigma, could we help victims of domestic violence realise they are not alone, could we provide a conduit for someone to share a story they have never felt safe to tell?
Last week a man appeared in court on a charge of strangulation in a domestic relationship.
Non-fatal strangulation is a new offence recommended in the Not Now, Not Ever report on domestic violence in Queensland.
A previous offence required intent to kill someone. However, research found that strangulation in a domestic and family violence setting is not necessarily intended to take a life.
Often it is about power and control. It would be terrifying for victims who may feel they have to comply or die.
Government pushed for the legislation saying strangulation was known to be an indicator of escalating domestic violence.
In May government launched the Do Something campaign to encourage people to support victims of domestic violence.
Neighbours, family members and friends are often the first to suspect something is not right in a domestic relationship, that a partner is struggling to deal with their anger or that someone is being abused – physically or otherwise – by a person close to them.
While women and children are predominantly affected by domestic violence, men are also victims and women are perpetrators.
Too often debates – about whether the perception of the extent to which men are victims reflects reality, or whether false claims are put forward by vindictive women, for example – detract from the real issue. And that is, that violence is never OK.
We should not underestimate what progress has been made in addressing domestic violence.
Just last week the government announced it would release domestic violence order application statistics in the hope that victims’ faith in the system would increase.
When it comes to domestic violence, change is going to take a long time.
This is a complex issue involving attitudes toward women, power struggles in relationships, anger management and respect for others. Knowing what is domestic violence, the signs and symptoms, is a good place for anyone to start exploring the issue.