What we don’t see…

While we know how to capture data on reported domestic violence, there is always the unknown number we should never forget.

The Advertiser journalist Lauren Novak has once again done the hard yards reviewing the annual SA Police data to paint the picture of what domestic violence looks like in the state. From it we know for 2018-19 there were 10,645 reported crimes which were connected to abuse in relationships and families.

The good news – this was a slight decrease from 10,864 from the previous year. There was also a drop in “sexual assaults, abduction, harassment and trespass.”

According to Novak; “Serious assaults listed as not causing a physical injury remained the most common crime (4104 reports), but the category includes offences like suffocation or strangulation which can cause internal damage without leaving an external mark.”

This is important because just because there is no physical mark means it is not as significant. According to Safe Steps in Victoria; “Family violence can be defined as any controlling or violent behaviour that causes emotional, psychological, sexual, financial or physical damage to a family member, partner or ex-partner, or causes them to feel fear.”

Just because it is not physical does not mean it is just as damaging. As they go on to say; “many survivors of family violence can attest, supposedly “less serious” types of violence like emotional and psychological abuse can leave very deep scars and are very hard to overcome. All violent behaviour – be it emotional, psychological, or any other form – is harmful and inexcusable.”

While we have SAPOL data and statistics from domestic violence services that help us paint a picture of whether it is increasing or decreasing we also now that “80% of women who experience violence from a current partner don’t contact the police about it.”

This is why we don’t have the full picture and one of the reasons why we hear so little about the full extent of domestic violence.  And when talking to family, friends and others, women are more likely to downplay their experience of violence than exaggerate it.

So while it is important to examine the latest data let’s not forget it under represents what many women are experiencing.