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Addressing community attitudes is key to violence prevention

Domestic violence continues to be a series issue for our community and a recent VicHealth survey has revealed some disturbing attitudes and statistics which only scratch the surface of an issue that is also affecting the Tasmanian community.

The recent Vic-Health survey revealed that most people believe violence is caused by men being unable to control their anger and their need for sex. “This is an insult to men and not an attitude we want to be nurturing in boys or girls growing up in Tasmania,” stated Alina Thomas EO of Domestic Violence Counselling service, SHE.

“Declaring that certain behaviours entice rape and violence against women is a sad indication that we are not placing the responsibility of violence on the perpetrator.

Instead we are blaming the vulnerable person and in doing so excusing the behaviour” says Ms Thomas.

Despite enduring misperception in the community, intimate partner assaults and homicides are beginning to attract more attention however, less explicit violence is still unacknowledged. “We have recorded a stark increase in the number of women contacting our service who are under strict prohibitive monitoring by their partners.

Some women experience such a lack of freedom that they feel unable to come in for appointments, use their phones and in some cases even leave the house,” explains Ms Thomas.

Abuse can be very subtle forms of control, for example financial, where women do not have access to household money and their spending is restricted or controlled by their partner. Stalking and surveillance is another example of women being overly monitored and intimidated by partners and accelerated dramatically with the proliferation of smart phones, personal GPS’s and social networking.

Domestic violence has a profound impact on the physical and mental health of women. It can lead directly to serious injury, permanent impairment, disability or death. Vic-Health (2007) found that among women under 45, domestic violence contributes more to their poor health, disability, and death than any other risk factor.

Domestic violence often has very severe negative impact on the well-being of the whole family. Children’s physical health, learning, cognition, social and emotional development can all be severely impaired by experiencing domestic violence (Chadwick & Morgan, 2009).

Violence against women needs to be addressed in homes, in schools, in workplaces and in parliament . “We have a long way to go before we acknowledge that violence against women affects the whole of our society. Burdens on the legal system and on the health system show the greater impact however the individual costs to women and children is where we see insurmountable evidence that we are failing to provide a safe environment for families in Tasmania” stated Ms Thomas.

Violence against women is preventable but it does require systemic shifts in attitudes and behaviour.

If you need help please contact the Family Violence Counselling service on 1800 633 937 (9am – midnight Monday – Friday, 4pm – midnight weekend and public holidays)

For more information contact Alina Thomas, 0438 788 291

Engender Equality offers a free and confidential counselling and support service to women who have experienced abuse in an intimate relationship. The service also provides community based programs such as KYSS (Keep yourself safe and sane) and educational workshops. Engender Equality is funded by the Department of Health and Human Services.


VicHealth. (2007) Preventing Violence Before It Occurs: A Framework and Background Paper to Guide the Primary Prevention of Violence Against Women in Victoria. Melbourne: Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth).

Morgan, A. & Chadwick, H. (2009). Key Issues In Domestic Violence. Australian Institute of Criminology. Australian Government: Canberra