The definition of Family Violence in Tasmania as per the Family Violence Act 2004 states that family violence means any of the following types of conduct committed by a person, directly or indirectly, against that person’s spouse or partner: this includes assault, including sexual assault, threats, coercion, intimidation or verbal abuse. Abduction, stalking, economic abuse, emotional abuse or intimidation and contravening an external family violence order.
Children who witness assault from one parent to the other can live with scars for the rest of their lives. It can affect their behaviour, their brain development, cause physical, emotional and development delay, as well as difficulties with concentration at school, therefore affecting their educational possibilities. Witnessing violence can cause the child sometimes to make unsafe choices in their lives as adults.
Unfortunately, Family violence remains a huge issue in Tasmania and nationwide. Home should be a place of safety, but for too many in our society home is instead a place of fear and secrets. Many cases of family violence still don’t get reported, for fear of backlash from the perpetrator and not wanting family and friends to know what the victims are enduring. Many women become isolated by their partners moving them away from family and friends to other states, country areas or just by making visitors to the home feel uncomfortable so that they gradually stop visiting.
Some of the reasons women don’t leave can be the financial difficulties involved in having to set up house again in a new area and finding an affordable house to live in, as well as children often having to change schools. Cultural and religious beliefs can also affect the decision of staying or leaving the violent situation. Victims can also be brainwashed into thinking the violence is somehow their fault.
The longer you stay with an abusive partner, the more difficult it can be to leave as self-esteem is eroded more and more every day. Women and children do recover with support and counselling and can with time become self-sufficient and feel at peace and turn around the long term effects of living with violence. Love is not about being a physical or verbal “punching bag” for your partner. No one deserves to live with abuse.
Our advice to anyone who is living in a violent relationship and wanting to leave would be to first assess their personal safety and that of the children and anyone else in their care, then leave the situation as soon as possible and at a safe time, ensuring that they have their children and any identification if possible. The safest way to get out of the situation is to contact the police who can take you to a safe place. If a life-threatening incident is happening call the emergency number on 000.
Women and children who access Magnolia Place LWS can be referred to the Victim Safety Response Team (VSRT), who are part of the police department and have specialised training and experience working with victims/survivors of family violence. We also refer to specialised Family Violence Counselling and Support Services who are able to provide counselling and ongoing support. The Magnolia Place LWS team not only provide safe, high security, affordable temporary accommodation but a caring attitude to support women and children with whatever issues they are dealing with while they are living at the shelter.