Beyond Violence: General Information

How safe is your relationship?
Myths and facts about domestic violence
A story of domestic violence and healing
Where to find help for domestic violence

How safe is your relationship?

Family violence is not okay and is a crime in Australia. This is a checklist for controlling and abusive behaviours in families. If you answer yes to some of these questions, support is available to you and your family to seek assistance in whatever way you require it.

*NB for ease of reading, the genders referred to reflect the majority statistics of males perpetrating violence against females. Note that this does not apply to ALL situations.

Psychological abuse

Does he make threats or act or speak in ways which are frightening or intimidating?

Does he make you feel bad about the way you look or the way you parent or something other?

Does he say that you are crazy, stupid, useless, worthless or other put downs?

Does he deliberately try to destroy the relationship between yourself and your children?

Does he undermine your children’s trust in you?

Male power abuse

Does he always see himself as superior and others in the family as servants?

Does he think he is entitled to more: decisions, money and rights?

Does he make all the big decisions and demand compliance?

Spiritual abuse

Does he use scripture, ideas about God or the Church to justify violence/control/abuse?

Does he use selective parts of scripture to claim God’s blessing on violence (or damnation if you do not do what he wants)?

Economic abuse

Does he control the money and how you spend it?

Are you made to account for every dollar spent?

Are you excluded from financial decisions and/or prevented from seeking employment?

Sexual Abuse

Does he force or coerce you into sexual acts when you don’t want to?

Does he pressure you to have sex which is unpleasant?

Has he made you do something which you found humiliating or degrading?

Physical abuse

Has he ever used physical force against you (pushing, hitting, slapping, restraining etc) or your children?

Has he ever thrown or damaged objects in the house or destroyed treasured possessions?


Myths and facts about domestic violence

Myths are commonly held beliefs that are not factual. They give a false picture, and they shift the blame for domestic violence from the man who uses violence and abuse, to the woman who is abused. Myths are a way of blaming women for the violence that happens to them. Because of this, many women do not tell anyone about the hardship and fear they experience in their living situation. They do not want to be blamed. Myths hide the extent and support the continuation of domestic violence and abuse in our community.

MYTH: A WOMAN CAN EASILY LEAVE AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP
FACT: There are many factors that make it difficult for a woman to leave.
These include:

  • there are children who love him
  • she feels she should not deprive the children of their father
  • financial reasons or uncertainty about resources and supports available 
  • pressure from friends and family to stay
  • she feels paralysed by helplessness due to the violence and abuse
  • fear of change, loneliness and uncertainty 
  • the fact that she still loves him and hopes that he will change 
  • fear of how he would react and what he would do 
  • stigma about being a single parent 
  • fear of not being believed 
  • fear that there is nowhere safe to go or no better option
  • beliefs that she won’t be able to cope on her own
  • fear that he will follow her and hurt her and the kids

MYTH: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DOES NOT AFFECT CHILDREN
FACT: Witnessing domestic violence and abuse is traumatic and impacts on children and young people’s physical, social, psychological and spiritual development. Protecting children is about supporting women with safety and inviting men to take responsibility for their use of violence and abuse.

MYTH: IF A WOMAN IS SUBJECTED TO VIOLENCE AND ABUSE, SHE MUST HAVE DONE SOMETHING TO DESERVE IT. HE WOULD NOT HAVE DONE IT WITHOUT A REASON.
FACT: There are no reasons that can justify a man’s use of domestic violence and abuse. No one deserves to be abused. The man may say “you shouldn’t have … or “if only you hadn’t …” to justify his own behaviour. Using violence is a choice with a clear intention to exert power and control, and it is never appropriate.

MYTH: ONLY PHYSICAL VIOLENCE COUNTS AS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FACT: Psychological, social, spiritual abuses etc are as destructive as physical violence. They can make a woman feel worthless, confused and erode her confidence and belief in her ability, skills and sanity.

MYTH: MEN WHO USE VIOLENCE ARE UNSUCCESSFUL, LOW ACHIEVERS AND UNABLE TO COPE WITH THE WORLD.
FACT: Many men who use violence are educated, hold professional jobs and are highly successful. Poverty, alcoholism and drugs all add to stress, but violence happens throughout society, rich and poor, all ages, all cultures.

MYTH: REGRET OR REMORSE ON THE MAN’S PART MEANS HE HAS CHANGED.
FACT: Many men feel regret or remorse and make promises after they use violence and abuse against their partner. Guilty feelings, apologies and promises to change are part of the domestic violence cycle and do not signify a man’s commitment to accept responsibility for his use of violence and abuse.

MYTH: VIOLENCE IS PART OF OUR CULTURE
FACT: Domestic violence and abuse against women and children is a crime; it is never acceptable in this country and is a violation of basic human rights.

MYTH: THE RELATIONSHIP WILL GET BETTER; EVERYONE GOES THROUGH “ROUGH PATCHES”
FACT: Violence and abuse do not go away. If ignored, the abuse often escalates. The man using violence and abuse needs to acknowledge that he has a problem and make specific changes to stop.

MYTH: IT IS BECAUSE HE IS UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE
FACT: The problem is how the man deals with the pressure, not the pressure itself. Pressure is a condition which we all experience and is not an excuse for abuse.

MYTH: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS PRIVATE - ‘OUTSIDERS’ SHOULD NOT INTERFERE
FACT: Everyone has a right to live in safety and be free from violence and abuse, both inside and outside of the home.

MYTH: ALCOHOL ABUSE IS TO BLAME FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FACT: Alcohol is often blamed for domestic violence; however, alcohol is an excuse, not a cause. Violence and abuse occurs without alcohol being present, and many people get drunk without becoming violent. Alcohol lowers inhibitions; however, a person who uses alcohol is responsible both for their drinking and for their behaviour.

MYTH: MEN WHO USE VIOLENCE ARE MENTALLY ILL
FACT: The majority of men who use violence are not suffering from a mental illness and have normal behaviour outside of their relationship. Similarly, abuse towards women and children is too widespread to be explained by mental illness. Most men who assault their partners confine their violence to the privacy of their home and direct it toward particular parts of the woman’s body so that she will not visibly bruise. This ability to use restraint and forethought does not fit with the excuse of, ‘lack of control due to a mental illness’. Irrespective of a mental illness, there is no excuse for using violence and abuse.

 Excerpt from: Domestic Violence Handbook for clergy and pastoral workers (870 kb PDF)

Where to find help>