Domestic violence dominated headlines over the past fortnight, with state and federal governments, and a multinational company declaring it a policy priority. Domestic Violence Orders (DVOs) could soon apply nationwide, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has vowed to overhaul the family violence system, and Apple’s Siri can now direct victims of domestic violence to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network’s website.
“Personally, the only terribly helpful thing I can see out of that is the move from a state to a federal structure with DVOs,” University of Wollongong Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Support Services’ (DV and SASS) Bronte Winn said.
“Siri seems like a bit of a cheap trick, I suppose. One thing that’s very hard is to admit to yourself that you’ve either been sexually assaulted or in a domestic violence situation. So I can’t imagine telling that to a computer personally.”
“People from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds, older people, people particularly woman with disabilities, people in gay and lesbian and transgender relationships; all of these people find barriers when seeking help,” Victorian Royal Commissioner into Family Violence Justice Marcia Neave told Nine News.
Chelsey Sanderson, a transgender woman and activist, said there was growing awareness in the queer community about domestic violence.
“I don’t know if, in the grand scheme of things, whether there’s enough focus on it, as it’s always framed as an issue for women, and not just women, but cisgender women. Whereas trans-women are more likely to be victims of domestic abuse. Trans-people in general are at a higher risk of domestic violence,” she said.
“I can speak for the queer community, more specifically the trans community, when i say that you’re not necessarily going to get support from the police and other services…the other thing to remember is that there are intersections of different minorities. Disability, queer – you can be more than one at a time and those people are the ones most at risk.”
Ms Winn said DV and SASS addresses the issue by including two members of the queer community its the team.
“We try and maintain close links with the LGBTQI community, and especially the Queer Alliance and FemSoc,” she said.
“So we try and have people who can relate to their experiences, rather than coming to someone like me, who would have no idea what a gay or lesbian relationship is like. Admittedly that goes for straight relationships as well, but sometimes it makes people feel more comfortable talking to people that have a bit more of a shared experience.”