Domestic violence is an extensive, continuous and misunderstood problem. There are many factors that reoccur in different cultures, and all cultures have been reported to have experienced domestic violence in high numbers, this includes indigenous, non-indigenous and immigrant women. They all experience separate struggles in their cultures with reporting the domestic violence however the most common factors that continuously show in reports is their lack of confidence in the formal services available, the degrading response received from their informal social circle, lack of education on their options in their situation and a lack of available services when they do seek the help required.
Domestic violence occurs in both rural and urban area, regardless of culture. There are many studies showing the common factors that cause the violent incidents that have regularly occurred in a high number of cases, these factors are all common for both indigenous and non-indigenous Australians as well as immigrant women. Common causes include drug and alcohol abuse, money issues in both high- and low-income earners, lack of knowledge around their rights and available services and the people they have contact with.
Immigrant women suffer with the domestic abuse for reasons unique to them, Immigrant women unlike Australian citizens are more often unable to communicate effectively, nor do they have the same access to informal social services as they are generally alone without family or close friends. In most study cases immigrant women were found to have little to no knowledge of their rights as Australian residents nor were they able to contact any formal services to seek help as they were unsure of what they could do to gain assistance.
Indigenous and Non-indigenous women also have a lack of knowledge however they generally experience other challenges these are reported to be, major inabilities to trust formal authorities to help them thus they do not report the violence, there is a lack of trust in informal social outreaches such as friends and family for fear of them reacting negatively. There is also a lack of trust with local services due to the high reported numbers of women who have gone to seek help from homelessness serves and have then been turned away to return to the violence. Research of data collected from homelessness shelters showed that on average 66% of women who had left their abusive households and sought help from homelessness services were turned away. Many women who have received a negative response or failed to seek help during their first attempt to report and leave the violence will generally not attempt to do so again for fear of the outcome if they are shown the same lack of respect and assistance again.
There are many policies and practices in place throughout Australia to help women who are in need of assistance to report and safely leave the violence however within this system there is also many faults that need to be addressed and resolved before women can feel comfortable coming forward about their situations. Police, prosecutors and judges along with medical staff need more training to better and more effectively deal with women experiencing domestic violence however in the mean time projects set up to research and process information regarding women and domestic violence cases have found they should be focusing on prevention strategies.
Even with all of the faults within the system there are some programs in place that are working efficiently and have been successful in helping the women who have approached them seeking help. In Western Australia a project under the name “safe at Home” has allowed women to seeking help to remain in their own houses with their children and their partner has been removed from the property. This has reduced the number of women returning to their abusive partners for different reasons after leaving, it has reduced the psychological impact on women and children who would have otherwise had to pack up their belongings, move and start a new life with very basic help and no social circle.
A womens social circle highly is important in their success when attempting to seek help. Most often women will seek informal assistance from family or friends, their reaction to the information of the abuse highly affects what the next step for that women seeking help will be. It is believed that by destigmatizing the ideas surrounding domestic abuse women seeking help will gain a better response that may empower them to seek further legal help. They also rely on the their social circle for the support they require when dealing with the process of leaving their partner and reorganising their daily life.
There are many studies that have concluded on the major problems associated with the large number of domestic violence victims, they also state the reason for a lack In reporting and the struggle women face when attempting to seek help they also have a large number of ideas they want to implement to try and reduce the numbers of victims and allow access to help to become a lot easier and more effective to reduce the number of women being turned away and having to return to the abuse. However with a lack of funding and a government not prioritising the domestic violence it has been little to no help for the people attempting to reduce the numbers of women affected.
In order to successfully start decreasing the number of women experiencing domestic violence and those who lose their lives to this abuse, the government needs to make it a priority to fund the research and implement strategies to allow services to better accompany women seeking help and refuge from their homes and the abuse, training the police, prosecutors and medical staff to respond faster and more effectively to help the women instead of turning them away or in general not responding within a reasonable amount of time will allow women to start trusting the services again.
Prevention strategies need to be implemented while the process of rebuilding the trust between Australians and the legal system is rebuilt and a new social standard needs to be placed over victims of domestic abuse to allow women to feel safe in discussing their abuse to people of an informal or formal standard. Women need to be made to feel as though they can comfortably seek help and speak about their abuse, they need to know that they will be treated as a priority and not a problem and that by seeking help their life will get better and not drop to a lower standard. The Australian government needs to organise for polices and procedures to be current throughout every state and ensure domestic violence victims are prioritised and not turned away or made to feel isolated and problematic of their situation. Once women are comfortable seeking help and reporting abuse and the government and all services are able to provide a working system of assistance the number of women killed each year due to the violence will start reducing.