Domestic violence: More women reaching out for help

While ACT Policing last week announced that call outs to reports of domestic violence in Canberra had dipped in the last financial year, the ACT’s Domestic Violence Crisis Service (DVCS) received almost 5,000 calls from women needing urgent assistance during November and December. This was a 34.5% increase across November and December compared with the same period in 2014, when 3,269 calls were received.

Across November and December, DVCS also conducted face-to-face crisis visits with 393 families to support them after domestic violence incidents, which was a 22% increase compared with the same period in 2014, an accommodated 24 women in a hotel, which was a 54 % increase on the previous year.

Over the full year of 2015 DVCS received 21,361 calls, compared to 16,270 in 2014 – a 23% increase.

DVCS Executive Director Mirjana Wilson said that the holiday period over Christmas and New Year was a time during which domestic violence occurred in a higher reported numbers of incidents, often due to the added financial stress and the extra time spent with family. Access issues – who has the kids and when – can also come to a head at this time.

Marcia Williams, Chair of the Domestic Violence Prevention Council, said that the increased focus and messages about domestic violence by the ACT and Commonwealth governments throughout the year, as well as strong media coverage of the issue, had contributed to women deciding to get help.

The increase in demand over November and December compared to the previous year reinforces the need for more resources for front line domestic violence services to meet the demand, and to ensure services are available for the safety of women and children.