Speaking Out on Domestic Violence in Strata

By December 4, 2020Safety

2020 has not only seen a deadly pandemic but also a horrific increase  in incidences of domestic violence across the country.

A survey by the Australian Institute of Criminology revealed almost 10% of Australian women in a relationship had experienced domestic violence during the coronavirus crisis.

Two-thirds of the women said the attacks started or became worse during the pandemic. For women with previous experience of physical or sexual violence, 50% said the abuse had become more frequent or severe since the start of the pandemic.

In Queensland, 81% of domestic violence services reported an escalation of controlling behaviour and manipulation in June, and 49% reported an escalation of perpetrators using Covid-19 as a reason for abuse.

At Brisbane Domestic Violence Service, demand across all programs, including legal support, counselling and casework, has increased 30%.

As a community we can and need to do more to combat the horrific and all too common incidents of domestic violence in any form they take.  Being a good neighbour could save someone’s life.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic or family violence occurs when one person in a relationship uses violent or abusive behaviour to control another. This can include:

  • physical abuse
  • damage to property
  • sexual abuse
  • verbal abuse
  • harassment or intimidation
  • financial abuse, or
  • threatening to do any of these things.

Under Queensland law, domestic violence is recognised in several different types of relationships:

  • Spousal – this includes de-facto partners, biological parents of a child, or same-sex couples
  • Intimate personal – two people in an established relationship, which does not have to be sexual
  • Family – related by blood or marriage, or culturally related
  • Informal care – an unpaid carer who assists with day-to-day living.

It is important to remember that although the overwhelming percentage of domestic violence victims are women, men can are also victims of domestic violence and incidences of domestic violence against men during the coronavirus pandemic has also increased.

So, what should you do if you suspect domestic violence in your strata scheme?

A fact about living in strata is that we are all packed in together. Anyone who chooses to live in such close proximity to others knows how important it is to create boundaries and respect one another’s privacy. But sometimes the outside encroaches and our neighbors’ business becomes our own, whether we like it or not.

You’re happily minding your own business and a situation presents itself that you can’t ignore?

Your neighbors’ yelling could be just a regular fight, or it could be something more dangerous; that distinction is hard to make when you’re hearing it through a wall.

If someone is in danger, well, then of course you’d want to help. But what if no one is, and you’re just being a busybody? What if you make the situation worse? There’s also the natural fear almost anyone would feel walking into a potentially violent situation.

Google neighbours fighting and you’ll find Reddit threads and advice columns full of people trying to decipher the line between ordinary disputes and domestic violence.

When does it become my business? What should I do if I hear concerning noises coming from a neighbour’s apartment?

According to domestic violence experts, if you suspect any form of violence in a neighbour’s home you should avoid putting yourself at physical risk by confronting the offender.  But keeping yourself safe does not mean keeping quiet.

You can call the police on 000, or you can also call CrimeStoppers on 1800 333 000.

If you are worried about your safety or your neighbourhood relationships, you can ask to remain anonymous, or ask that your name and details are not shared with the home you are calling about. (The police will honour and respect this request.)

Write down the date, time, and what you saw or heard because if the matter does go to court, these records can be used as evidence to help the victim. You can also use your phone to video or audio record what you are seeing or hearing.

Remember that domestic violence is not just physical abuse: it also involves verbal abuse, emotional abuse, social abuse, psychological intimidation, threats and so on.

So, you don’t need to ‘wait’ for it to escalate to physical violence to take action.

“What if I’m overreacting? I don’t want to cause a fuss”

If you are feeling worried or frightened about what you are seeing or hearing you don’t need to wait for it to escalate before calling for help, even if you’re not certain that someone is in danger.

It’s important to be vigilant. It’s more important that the situation gets checked out because you could save a life. If it turns out to not be too serious, or it’s a loud party or children playing up, the police are also trained in how to deal with that situation too. It’s more important to check on the welfare of people

Do not be afraid that you are wasting the police’s time. The police have stated repeatedly that they would rather come out and not find an issue, than  to not be notified and a tragic event take place.

Take comfort in the knowledge that you are shaping a community where people keep an eye out for the wellbeing of others and victims of abuse are being supported by neighbours and the police.

How to report domestic violence

Is the incident of domestic violence happening now? Is anyone seriously injured or in immediate danger? Is anyone’s life being threatened?

Contact the police on Triple Zero (000)

For all other domestic violence related matters, phone 131 444, 24 hours, 7 days a week.
Alternatively, you can make contact with a police officer or police station by submitting the following form:

Request contact with police

There is also a messaging service that allows vulnerable persons in Queensland to contact police for non-urgent matters through SMS messaging.
Register here

Learn how to recognise the signs of domestic violence and what to do:

 

Get help and advice

DVConnect Womensline

  • 1800 811 811
  • 24 hours, 7 days a week

Mensline

  • 1800 600 636
  • 9am to 12 midnight, 7 days a week

Sexual Assault Helpline

  • 1800 010 120
  • 30am to 11.30pm, 7 days a week

Kids Help Line

  • 1800 55 1800
  • 24 hours, 7 days a week

Lifeline

  • 13 11 14
  • 24 hour Crisis Counselling Line

Elder Abuse Helpline

  • 1300 651 192
  • 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday

 If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800-RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au.

If you are in an emergency or suspect someone else is, please call 000.  CrimeStoppers can also be reached at 1800 333 000.

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