Opinion: Abuse victims struggle to reach light at end of tunnel

Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.

The number one thing I took away from researching domestic violence recently was the complex struggles victims face during the relationship and after they leave.

Unfortunately, the struggles do not stop if they manage to escape the relationship.

These include homelessness, navigating the court system, looking after their children's mental health and negotiating childcare with the former partner.

On top of this, if they are living in crisis accommodation, the children and mother are usually sharing a room with others, which is not familiar or comfortable for anybody.

I would hear the woman screaming and furniture smashing into walls on so many occasions I’ve lost track.

The mother has to try and hold down her job. The children have to continue schooling. I worked in the Wheatbelt before this job, and I remember hearing and seeing domestic abuse a handful of times.

A young couple with a baby lived in the unit directly below mine.

I would hear the woman screaming and furniture smashing into walls on so many occasions I've lost track.

The calls to police were endless.

One night, I could hear the girl pleading with her partner to stop.

There was so much banging and screaming and crying.

It was traumatic to hear and I could not even begin to imagine how scared she was.

I felt useless because there was nothing I could do to help her.

Police came after she had already taken off down the street, alone.

I actually called police in tears and asked why they didn't come sooner.

The officer told me it was an ongoing issue and they try to respond as soon as they can.

He sounded desensitized to it because it did happen all the time, and not just between this couple.

But, just because it is so common, it doesn't mean we should turn a blind eye.

There has been progress in recent years, with more women speaking out about domestic violence which is a positive.

However, it's worrying if not all women can be helped in a crisis which is highlighted on page one.

Are you experiencing domestic violence? Call police on 000 in an emergency or 131 444 to report an incident.

For counselling or support services call the free 24 hour Women's Domestic Violence Helpline on 1800 007 339.

Follow Carla Hildebrandt on Twitter @hildebrandt_c or email carla.hildebrandt@fairfaxmedia.com.au to get in touch.