Suffering in Silence

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Domestic violence victims live in constant fear all the time. If the abuse has been severe enough, they can have little faith in anyone being able to help them. The fear the victim has that they would be found out can outweigh the need to stop the abuse. Police maintain that any forms of domestic violence need to be reported, whether by the victim, friend, neighbour or support worker. Yet, having the victim report the abuse is what appears to sometimes be the problem. They fear that the police will not do anything is called out, thus also fearing what may happen to them once the police have left. There have been large quantities of literature maintaining that the police do not do much to punish the abuser, or if there is an intervention order, the penalties are minimal. Due to this constant doubt in the back of the victims mind, they are less likely to call the police to help with their situation thus seeking help for domestic violence appears out of reach for many victims. Findings from research conducted by Victorian police using risk assessment analysis, on police responses to domestic violence, show that the police need to pay greater attention to fear as an initial response and take more notice of a victim’s reluctance to apply for an intervention order, due to the fear of what the outcome will be. Findings from interviews conducted from victim’s experiences in formal support, showed dissatisfaction towards outcomes and involvement of police in domestic violence situations.

RESEARCH QUESTION OR HYPOTHESIS

Suffering in silence. Why some women find fear restricts them to seek help in domestic violence relationships.

Domestic violence was defined by The Royal Commissions of Human Relationships as ‘acts of violence by one spouse against the other spouse or against the children and was mainly concerned with physical violence and rape. Domestic violence refers to acts of violence that occur between people who have, or have had, an intimate relationship in domestic settings (Mitchell, 2011). Definitions of domestic violence have changed over time to include areas such as: emotional abuse; verbal abuse; social abuse; economic abuse; psychological abuse; physical abuse; sexual abuse and spiritual abuse (Mitchell, 2011).

This report will examine how fear can affect women in domestic violence, how the police can assist and why women find it so hard to get the help they so desperately need. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to report the abuse and leave an abusive relationship, yet many people are under the impression that it’s so easy to report it to police. Believe me, it is not!

RESEARCH (INCLUDING METHODOLOGY)

Independent research and surveys were unable to be conducted due to limited time constraints, so extensive secondary research was conducted to explore the information that was available on the broad topic of domestic violence. Once the topic had been narrowed down to a component of domestic violence, why women find it hard to seek help in an abusive relationship, library journals and Google Scholar were used to conduct the research.

There is so much information available in journals, web sites and government agencies on domestic violence. Research was initiated by reading an article titled Domestic Violence in Australia – An Overview of the Issues written by Liesl Mitchell (2011). Looking at the journals listed in the reference list, led to many searches in the library database. Statistics were harder to discover that were applicable to this particular area, which led to even more articles, on the many different areas of domestic violence until enough research was found on women’s experiences, police and court responses, and community attitudes, which assisted in discovering why some women found it so hard to seek help in an abusive relationship.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Liesel Mitchell (2011) explains in detail, the issues that are current in...
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