18 October 2020
A survey conducted by The Australian Institute of Criminology found that of the 15,000 Australian women they surveyed, 1 in 20 had experienced physical or sexual violence in the past three months.
Whilst a study from Monash University found that during the coronavirus pandemic there has been a 59 per cent increase in the frequency of physical and sexual violence against women and a 50 per cent increase in the severity of violence.
Northern Centre Against Sexual Assault (NCASA) Manager, Heather Clarke says that raising awareness for sexual assault and family violence through initiatives such as ‘Week Without Violence’ are more important than ever.
“COVID-19 has created unique circumstances where there is increased social isolation and decreased social movement,” Heather says.
“Home is not always a safe place.
“Many victim survivors remain inside their homes with their abuser all day, every day, as people isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“For many people, leaving the house to go to work, school, university or social events breaks up the time spent in the house and lowers the risk of violence. Now, due to the COVID-19 restrictions these opportunities are limited, and people are in a state of heightened fear and anxiety,” she says.
Abuse in relationships can also take non-physical forms which can be just as damaging as physical violence.
These include emotional abuse where someone does things like constantly putting you down, social abuse where someone prevents you from seeing your friends and family, or financial abuse where someone takes control of your financial affairs against your wishes or prevents you from having access to money.
Heather wants you to know that if you’re experiencing family violence you can leave your home to seek support and safety.
If you need help, the following services are available throughout lockdown:
(Both Safe Steps and MensLine also offer online chat, if making a phone call isn’t an option.)
NCASA clients and Austin Health staff have been writing anti-violence messages on t-shirts as part of the ClothesLine Project - aiming to raise awareness about ending sexual assault and family violence. See some of their messages below: