STORIES about domestic violence are challenging for the media.
On one hand we don’t want to intrude on people’s privacy, things that happen behind closed doors and in people’s homes.
On the other, the issue affects so many people.
If we write about it sensitively, could we help remove some stigma, could we help victims realise they are not alone, could we provide a conduit for someone to share a story they do not feel 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. Research found strangulation in a domestic and family violence setting does not always intend to take a life. It can be about about power and control.
Victims feel they must comply or die.
Government pushed for the legislation saying strangulation was an indicator of escalating domestic violence. The Do Something campaign, launched in May, encouraged people to support DV victims.
Neighbours, family members and friends are often the first to suspect something is amiss in a relationship, that someone is struggling to deal with anger or another is being abused – physically or otherwise.
Women and children are most often affected, but men can be victims and women, perpetrators. Debate should not detract from the real issue – violence is never OK.
Nor should we underestimate the progress made. Last week the government announced it would release domestic violence order application statistics in the hope victims’ faith in the system would increase.
Change takes time. This is a complex issue involving attitudes toward women, power struggles in relationships, anger management and respect for others Knowing what domestic violence is, the signs and symptoms, is a good place for anyone to start to explore the issue.