Domestic and family violence rife across our Diocese

November 5, 2020

Wyong (in the Diocese of Broken Bay) is the second highest suburb for police callouts in NSW due to domestic and family violence. And we know that 66% of domestic and family violence incidences go unreported (BOCSAR, 2020).

Many think of domestic and family violence as only physical violence. We hear many women say, “but he didn’t hit me so it’s not domestic violence”. Domestic violence is when one person uses their power and control over another. It includes yelling, throwing things, using finances to control the other person, restricting someone from seeing their friends and/or family, telling someone where they can and cannot go, making someone feel that the abuse is their fault, checking their partners phone messages and social media, using tracking devices, hidden cameras and microphones to monitor and stalk their partner, using children as pawns during separation, telling their partner they can’t live without them and threatening to take their own life, sexual assault and physical abuse. It can be one, two … or all the above.

During the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen an increase in domestic and family violence. Our clients have told us their partner is now working from home or lost their job and the usual “reprieve” they would have is no longer available to them. Abuse is increasing behind closed doors bringing safety challenges to workers unable to visit women at home due to the perpetrator being at home. Men that have been jailed for abuse are being released early due to COVID-19, increasing the risk to families. There has been a dramatic increase in alcohol and drug consumption and gambling which exacerbates the abuse particularly since the introduction of COVID-19 payments such as JobSeeker, JobKeeper and other payments.

If you suspect someone is experiencing such violence, the first thing you can do to support them is to listen – without judgement. Validate their concerns. We hear many women say “I didn’t think anyone would believe me because they are a great person to everyone else” and “They tell me it’s my fault and I’m the crazy one”. Assure them that what is happening is not acceptable and the perpetrator has a choice in how they treat them and their children. Power and control over another person is a choice. Let them know there are confidential support services that can help which are detailed below.

CatholicCare’s Central Coast Family Centre in Tuggerah have two domestic violence programs available – Safe Homes and the Staying Home Leaving Violence program.

  • Safe Homes is short-term crisis support for high risk men, women and their children who have experienced domestic violence. This team also runs Caring Dads which works with men who choose to use violence assisting them to recognise the negative impact of their behaviour on their children. This support can be coupled with one-on-one counselling and/or the Caring Dads group sessions. We also have a child trauma specialist onboard. Call (02) 4356 2600.
  • Staying Home Leaving Violence is a longer-term support program for women and their children wanting to live free from violence in a safe home of their choice. This program offers a therapeutic group both face-to-face or via zoom enabling women to take back control of their lives and regain their sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Support can include safety planning, home safety audits and advocating with housing, Centrelink, police and the courts. We can arrange referrals to key services such as mental health, drug and alcohol, culturally specific services, counselling, family support, Victims’ Services applications, the Department of Communities and Justice (formerly FACS) and Housing Start Safely. Call (02) 4356 2600.
  • Our Domestic Violence Response Enhancement (DVRE) team provide after-hours crisis support to women and children who have left, or are wanting to leave, a violent relationship. This team, located at our Family Centre in Waitara is available 365 evenings a year for assistance which can include emergency accommodation, practical items, safety planning and access to specialist domestic violence, visa and immigration services. Call (02) 9488 2400 (business hours) or 9488 2588 (after hours and weekends)
  • Our Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service is run out of our Naremburn Family Centre. It provides women and their children with information on how to get protection from the court. This service covers the Upper and Lower North Shore of Sydney and the Northern Beaches. Call (02) 8425 8700

Please don’t suffer in silence. If you or someone you know needs help, please call us or visit www.catholiccaredbb.org.au/dvsupport.

There is also a 24/7 free Domestic & Family Violence phone counselling service 1800RESPECT available on 1800 737 732.

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