Monthly Survey: Would you like to participate in Relationships Australia’s quick, two-minute survey? Yes No thanks

Family Forum: Abuse is not okay

Any form of violence in families is unacceptable.

QUESTION:

My wife physically abuses me.  Eye gouging, punching, pouring boiling water on me, telling me she would love to stick a knife into me.

I am stuck, I have nowhere to go and when I go to police looking for support, they give me brochures on domestic violence, which assumes I am the perpetrator. Where can I go for help?

No domestic violence is acceptable (not just against one sex or another).

ANSWER:

Despite recent efforts to raise awareness, family violence against women remains a very serious issue within Australian society.

Forms of family abuse include physical violence, economic, emotional and psychological. However, as your letter illustrates, violence between family members can also take many forms. Elder abuse, parent abuse and abuse of men by women also takes place. Sole parent and same-sex couples are also not immune from family violence.

The Panel agrees that any form of violence within families however constituted is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.

Men who have suffered physical abuse such as that which is described in your letter may be reluctant to report it because of shame or fear of being seen as weak or “unmanly”.

Help for men in your situation is available 24/7 through resources such as the Men’s Helpline on 1300 78 99 78. You can speak to a counselor or visit the website mensline.org.au and download the MensLine Australia Tip Sheet: Are you experiencing violence for men who are being abused. Other tip sheets include Managing conflict and Men and emotions.

These sheets give advice about the most appropriate way of dealing with the abuse, for example if the abuse is physical it is important not to retaliate in the same way.

Given your wife’s physical abuse and her threats to stab you it is important that you take immediate steps to ensure your safety. As it is for women at risk of harm it is also possible for men or anyone who feels under threat of physical harm to seek an AVO (Apprehended Violence Order) or “restraining order”. In an emergency you can dial triple-0 and speak to the South Australian Police service who can issue an immediate Interim Intervention Order on the spot. If you wish to leave the relationship you need to plan this carefully and with support.

As indicated above family violence in all its forms is quite common and you need not feel trapped in an abusive relationship given the supports that are now available to everyone.

Submit Your Questions

Family Forum is a panel of general practitioners, medical specialists, lawyers, therapeutic and financial counsellors to discuss each letter before the appropriate professional answers it. The panel is appointed by Relationships Australia SA.

Have you got a question you’d like us to tackle?

Fill out the form below or send questions to Family Forum, The Advertiser, 31 Waymouth St, Adelaide 5000.

We treat communications in strict confidence except when the law demands otherwise, as in child abuse.

Use this form to submit a question to the Family Forum panel.