The COVID19 lock down is slowly coming to an end in all Australian states and territories. Despite this, its impacts may have longer term effects in the realms of family violence in Australia.
During the lockdown, we have experienced increased levels of family violence in homes with more women coming forward to report violence. Recent studies coming out of Monash University in Victoria indicates that the lockdowns, although considered necessary for health, have led to the worsened levels of family violence around Australia. In this study, a survey was taken using information from 166 family violence practitioners across Victoria between April and May 2020. The report found that with families being stuck at home, some women have been left in unbearable circumstances. The report showed that close to 60 percent of legal personnel experienced increased cases of violence against women with evidence suggesting that the violence itself had worsened due to the lock down and that the number of ‘first time’ family violence reports had increased by more than 40 percent during this period.
During the study, legal practitioners further reported that in many cases, respondents to family violence refused to let women out of the house in order to ‘protect them’ from the virus and some cases included incidents where respondents demanded their partners to wash their hands to the point of bleeding. Many women also reported to their lawyers that Respondents would monitor their use of electronics making it difficult for them to reach out for help.
As lawyers, we all share concerns for the women who are unable to seek face-to-face supports from Police, courts and family violence workers during these difficult times.
The recent research reveals the ugly truth for some of being behind locked doors with their partners for extended periods of time.
Family violence is an issue that must remain at the forefront of our minds. For every month that the lockdown continues, additional women and children will be exposed to the risk of family violence all around Australia.
If you are the victim of domestic and family violence, or alternatively, if the police or someone else has taken out court application against you, call us I immediately on 1300 066 669 or email us at [email protected]