Although there is extensive and growing awareness about domestic violence in contemporary Australia, the true extent, and the consequences, of this violence remain largely hidden. Perhaps as a result, the conversations about domestic violence are mostly focused on how to deal with its victim-survivors, rather than how to stop the violence from happening.
The same is true of policy. Prevention policy is mostly long-term, based on the assumption that we need full gender equality in our society for domestic violence to end, yet there is no federal government plan for how to achieve gender equality in Australia. Another major focus is teaching respectful relationships in schools – another long-term approach that will hopefully pay dividends in the future, but cannot be expected to have much impact on violence being perpetrated today.
This report documents in excruciating detail the violence (physical and sexual) and emotional abuse experienced by these women at the hands of their former partner. It makes for painful reading, but it is a necessary resource for understanding the lives of these women – and the health and other consequences, many of which last a lifetime, long after the relationship is over.