Monday is ‘sorry day’ for domestic violence
Domestic violence workers call Monday “sorry day’’ because that’s when all of the parties experience regret.
Counselling and accommodation referral service Dvconnect community liaison worker “Valerie” (surname withheld) said, “We are busiest on a Monday. We call it ‘national sorry day’ because everyone is sorry; the women are sorry they are at the refuge, the men are sorry that the women have gone.”
Australian Institute of Criminology researchers last year found domestic violence to be the single biggest health risk for Australian women aged between 15 and 44.
Indigenous women are as much as 35 times as likely to sustain serious injury as a result of violence committed by a spouse or partner.
The Queensland police domestic violence division works closely with relevant community and government organisations. A public benevolent institution and police referral point, dvconnect is supported by the Department of Communities.
With a motto of “Not one more”, the aim of the trained staff is to provide counselling and state-wide
co-ordination of placements into emergency refuges and shelters.
“Most of our work is reactive; we take 52,000 calls a year on our crisis response lines and 6000 of these are from men,” said Valerie.
“Increasingly, we are seeing that men are also experiencing domestic violence in interpersonal relationships. We have three dedicated phone lines, including a men’s line – 1800 600 636 – and women’s line – 1800 811 811. We want men and women to know that they have alternatives.”
She said she definitively had a “dysfunctional childhood” but added that she had received a lot of good therapy and that her work with domestic violence was a “calling”.
“I witnessed my two brothers being brutalised, absolutely brutalised by my father; I lost a brother to domestic violence.”
Valerie said the organisation’s budget was often overdrawn when they had to pay for accommodation for a victim in crisis.
Othila’s young women’s housing and support services manager, Jill McKay, echoed Valerie’s lament and said, “We have 50 to 80 young women waiting to access placement in the seven properties available to Othila’s. We just can’t meet the demand.”
She said that violence comes in many guises including sexual, physical, psychological, emotional and emphasised the strong link between sexual abuse and homelessness.
“D/FV protection month is very important for Othila’s as the overwhelming majority of homeless young women who approach Othila’s have been victims of domestic violence in the past and are at risk of violence. It is the major cause of homelessness in young women, “ Ms McKay said.
Statistics and awards relating to the sector are largely divided into Aboriginal / Torres Strait Islanders and non-indigenous communities, urban and rural, creating difficulties in collating figures.
Photo: Valerie with the CWA anti-domestic violence quilt