“Professionally, the biggest difficulty I have is securing successful prosecutions. The vast majority of domestic violence happens behind closed doors; it's very much 'he said/she said', there are no independent witnesses. It takes victims a long time to break away from the abusive cycle. Sometimes we go round to these people two, three, four times. We find that by the time we get involved, the offender has got absolute control over the victim.” - Senior Constable Brian Johnson. Mt Druitt, Sydney
Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch said, about responding police officers, ''You only really get a feel for this by experience. ...For the young ones, it's always a battle because they don't have that life skill and invariably they're the ones … dealing with calls from victims.” - Daily Telegraph
Content warning: discussion of family violence.
Australian police are dealing with 5,000 domestic and family violence matters a week. That's one every two minutes.
Or 264,028 per year.
Data from police forces around the country shows the number of times police are dealing with domestic violence matters has climbed 7 per cent in the past year.
"This is not acceptable," Our Watch chief executive Mary Barry said.
"This is not the society that we in Australia should be living in and we should not be accepting that this is how we live."
The figures point to an increase in victims letting police know about violence, rather than a real-world increase in violence, according to Mayet Costello, the acting chief executive of Australia's National Research Organisation for Women's Safety (ANROWS).
"Historically domestic violence has been underreported but every time there's a campaign or news report we see a spike in the number of reports."Ms Barry said it would take generational change to see a decline in these numbers. "It's not going to happen overnight," she said .
Crucial services are still unable to meet current demands. Last year, 1800 RESPECT - the national crisis telephone line for sexual assault, domestic and family violence – was not able to respond to one-quarter of enquiries made to that service when someone called for help .
PRAY ABOUT IT
Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed…. you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands; the helpless commit themselves to you; you have been the helper of the orphan … Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear, to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more. Psalm 10:12,14,17-18 NRSV
Thank you for police and frontline responders who play such an immediate and significant role at times of crisis. Equip them with compassion and grace - so that they may be your hands and feet helping those in need.
Please pour out your boundless resources for the funding and services that are so desperately needed are made available in our nation. Amen.
- A close look at how police handle domestic violence situations
- Some first-hand accounts from frontline responders