Domestic violence services report rising demand for help from women

Domestic violence workers say they have seen an unprecedented rise in appeals for help from women, with 2,000 calls made in four days to one Queensland telephone service alone.

Key points:

  • Queensland's DV Connect telephone service received 2,000 calls in four days
  • DV services said they could not tell whether more women were being abused, or whether more victims were seeking help
  • Women's Services Network said "more and more women" were reporting to emergency departments with injuries

But domestic violence (DV) services said they could not yet tell whether more women were being abused or whether more victims were seeking help.

In Queensland, DV services said the demand for their help had tripled.

The state's DV Connect telephone service said 2,000 calls were made to them over the four-day new year's period.

DV Connect CEO Di Mangan said, compared to the same period last year, the demand was three times as high.

"It was just under 600 calls for the same period last year," she said.

Ms Mangan said never in her 40 years of working in the sector had she seen that level of demand.

"I'm still trying to digest it myself," she added.

The sector's peak body, the Women's Services Network, said they had heard stories of rising demand from women around Australia.

Julie Oberin, the Women's Services Network's chairwoman, said the number of reports had risen dramatically and police responses to domestic violence had escalated.

"There's more and more women reporting to accident and emergency departments with injuries," Ms Oberin said.

But she said they could not tell whether more women were being abused, or whether more victims were seeking help because of increased publicity and awareness about domestic violence.

Domestic violence services stretched by increased numbers

The last major survey by the Bureau of Statistics in 2012 showed one in six women had experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner.

About one woman is killed each week and Ms Oberin warned a woman was most at risk after the perpetrator learned she was leaving.

"It's really important for anyone, if they have some choice over when they're going to leave, that they actually seek the support of a specialist domestic family violence service before they indicate that they're going to go," she said.

But Ms Oberin said the rise in women seeking help had left domestic violence services stretched.

"We're hearing that women are turned away on a daily basis from women's refuges because they're already full," Ms Oberin said.

She said a major concern within the domestic violence services sector was that women seeking accommodation and who are then turned away because of the stretched services, could then end up being killed by the person they are seeking to escape.

"Coroners' reports have indicated that one of the murdered women from New South Wales had tried to seek refuge a few times and wasn't able to access a service," Ms Oberin said.

Ms Mangan said that victims seeking help needed to persevere and be patient when calling domestic violence services.

"We know the call is in the queue, we can see the light flashing," she said.

"If someone isn't able to stay in the queue, it's not safe for them to do so, we'd certainly say call the police."

Source: ABC News

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