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Domestic violence: An all too familiar story

Headlines come and go, but this one repeats itself with a familiar refrain: “In one week, three Australian women were allegedly killed by men they knew.”


The figures are staggering. Despite the programmes we instigate and the enormous amounts of money we invest to combat domestic violence, on average one woman is killed by a husband or partner every week.

Should I repeat that? One woman has her life taken from her by a man close to her every week.

Three women were allegedly killed by a man close to them a couple of weeks ago.

“Christine Rakic, Amira Moghnieh, and a woman in the Northern Territory had their lives terminated.”

The people who analyse these things use words that make you think, but it’s hard to get one’s head around it, the why of it seems beyond me.

“The advocates in this area say things like “absolutely horrifying.” Domestic and family violence experts say violence against women is at “epidemic proportions.”

All the statistics combined tell a story that might be called “How they suffer for their femineity.”

Tarang Chawla, an anti-violence advocate, recently told SBS News that.

“At a human level, it is absolutely horrifying.

“It’s horrible that we’ve had to have so many tragedies in such a short space of time for us to really take stock, listen and think about why this is occurring and what we need to do to stop it from happening with such frequency.”

I have heard Chawla speak of his own experience on ABC’s The Drum.

He had lived through a similar experience, losing his sister Nikita in 2015 when she was murdered by her husband in Melbourne. He urged the community to understand the true human cost of particularly men’s violence against women.

“When we talk about these things in the media, we sometimes gloss over the fact that these are real human beings and the tragedy will have lifelong consequences – and that’s the people who are left behind.

“The families of these people will never be the same.”

It has now become a familiar story. One that I have written about myself and in the annals of my own family history, I wonder if my mother may have experienced similar acts of cowardice.

Then I heard that police had raided the homes of almost six hundred male offenders due to the three murders mentioned earlier. The NSW police targeted the state’s most dangerous domestic violence offenders and turned up illegal firearms and guns – and a corn snake (whatever that is).

“The four-day operation dubbed Amarok III resulted in 1107 domestic violence charges being laid against 592 people, who were mostly men, but there were at least two women.”

As I read on, I’m told that 139 men were arrested, and of these, 103 had outstanding warrants for violent offences and were amongst NSW’s most dangerous offenders.

The article went on to say that of those charged, many face other severe offences, including prohibited firearm and weapon possession, drug possession and supply.

From what I have read to this point, I am shocked at the criminal element involved in Domestic Violence. It’s enough to overwhelm one’s emotions.

Am I that naive I ask myself to have not known this?

“Some 139 were amongst NSW’s most dangerous offenders, and 103 had outstanding warrants for violent offences. Some of those charged also face other serious offences, including prohibited firearm and weapon possession, drug possession and supply.

Police seized 22 firearms and 40 prohibited weapons, as well as various types of illicit drugs located with 89 detections.”

An article from The Courier quotes many more facts and figures, saying:

“We know domestic and family violence is one of the most under-reported crime types.”

That I am left in a state of shock would be an understatement.

Reporting for, Blake Antrobus says that:

“… specialist teams such as the Domestic Violence High-Risk Offender Teams (DVHROT) were also involved in the operation.”

“The NSW Police Force invests significant resources into responding to domestic and family violence, attending some 139,000 calls for assistance in 2022 – with more than 33,100 of those actual assaults and 17 domestic-related murders.”

What, in God’s name, I ask myself, am I missing here? What if I were to multiply all these facts and figures across the nation? The statistics would be incredible.

They have undoubtedly worsened because of the Covid pandemic and multiplied again due to the economic crisis and cost of living problems. And these figures don’t mention what I shall call the non-criminal cohort. However, I might be corrected on that one.

The next question I ask myself, is what is to be done? In the totality of what I know, I suggest seeing the crisis as a community problem; not just a family one. We should educate ourselves on the subject. Be prepared to report cases of abuse. Enlighten our children about what it means.

What exactly causes men to commit these terrible acts of abuse? What makes us tighten our fists and strike out? Low self-esteem, culture, misogyny, tempestuous or explosive personality, incubus personality, borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder. Anyone with these personality disorders might commit domestic violence when under the influence of drugs.

Our first port of call must be education. To familiarise ourselves with the problem and arm ourselves with all the information we can digest and then speak it.

My thought for the day

If you are looking for the ultimate expression of the purity of love, there is no better place to look than in the sanctity of motherhood.


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  1. New England Cocky

    Radical change is required. Legalise personal quantities of Cannabis, licence growers and retailers, the same as alcohol & tobacco then set excise levels to produce revenue streams. Enforce compliance with corporate executives held personlly liable for breaches and disqualified for life on second onviction

  2. Lyndal

    As the mother of an autistic and alcoholic 40 year old son who lives with me, I confront a level of emotional violence almost daily at a level that makes me sometimes fear for my safety. I don’t want to involve the police, and an Apprehended Violence Order does nothing. The mental health system is overstretched, and requires consent from the person to do anything. Making my son homeless is not acceptable to me.
    Physical violence between partners gets a lot of attention, but the method of dealing with it – one of the failures of the current system, basically call police, get AVO and cross your fingers – doesn’t help.
    Most of these couples and families love each other and have long-term goals and commitments that make them want and need to stay together. As well as the conditions listed in the second last paragraph, which should be recognised as applying to both, or either, of the parties, there are other stresses such as indebtedness, unemployment and different standards and goals that can create underlying stress and frustration. There are no easy solutions

  3. wam

    An important causerie today, Lord. For every death there are many bashings, many sexual assaults and a great many verbal denigrations and a myriad of visual mental reminders that we live in a man’s world where only exceptional women are needed. Your thought being a prime example of the latter. It is tragic but my experience of 45 years in secondary schools shows that the majority of the ‘worst’ kids came from homes with an aggresive, loud and earless father. Sadly the visual media reinforces the aggression of society constantly showing that it is normal for men and women to smash something when frustrated. It is universal for us to label any animal that is cute, large, small bright, colourful, even ball-less, as HE. She is not used but shit fish a often called ‘mother in law’. It is long past the need for societal change but the churches need to educate children about the ravages of jealousy and that marriage does not mean the subjucation of women and children.
    Yes, Lyndal,
    We had a year with a depressed, alcoholic Tasmanian teacher who was on sick leave. She was violent and self harming. It was a constant worry about what she was going to do.

  4. Bruce

    Lyndal, sorry to hear of your situation.
    You rightly mention some factors that can add to abusive tendencies.
    To name one more common cause of abuse that’s systemic and the result of deliberate intention: war.
    Who declares war? There’s a saying all wars are bankers’ wars. The same bankers funded both sides in the WWs. War profits, tick.
    Wars also create millions of victims, shell-shocked individuals – soldiers and civilians. Sounds like a cost, but to the people who vote with their wallets to create wars, victims are very useful. Like ripples in a pond, the devastation done to the psyches of victims of war spreads out through time and space. Think of the extra cost, and subsequent profits, of policing, courts, medical costs, jails, et.
    No-one can know if they will be struck a wave of distorted psychic ‘war’ energy in life, the genesis of inter-generational trauma. Someone doesn’t have to go to Iraq, Kuwait, Ukraine to be hit by this kind of energy, just coincide with someone who did.
    Who are the real perpetrators, a civilian victim of war or a soldier sent by a govt to do some job? It’s still happening today. Cluster bombs. Sent by govt. More trauma incoming. I should be baffled but I see who profits.
    Maybe someone could ask Hollywood film makers to look into this matter and advocate for an end to glorifying violence in the themes of its movies. But then again, looking at the celebrity reaction to the recently-released movie about child abduction and sex slavery, ‘Sound of Freedom’, it’s obvious they are more than happy to remain part of the problem, not part of the solution.
    If the choice is more or less trauma in the world, Idiots Inc Hollywood is in the more camp.

  5. Caroline

    When the ugly, inegalitarian face of misogyny runs rife within the ranks of government, as it clearly did right throughout the Menzies, Howard, Abbott and Morrison’s ultra-conservative regimes, it is not surprising that the targeting, persecution, verbal and physical violence towards women by cowardly, controlling men is being overlooked, disregarded and even tolerated. Going back decades, misogyny is an integral part of right-wing extremism (along with ingrained racism and homophobia) where ultra-conservative, paternalistic views maintain an inherent condescending contempt for women and a rigidly draconian belief that women should be kept barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen!

    It is no coincidence that highly intelligent, successful and/or ambitious women – or the rising number of women who are now earning more than their male partner or spouse – are often the target of insignificant men who’s lack of success has led to their fragile egos being “bruised”, their shaky self-confidence taking a nose dive and, as an inevitable result, their overwhelming desire to completely control, dominate and/or emotionally/physically abuse a female partner they irrationally see as the “cause” of all their woes. Such cowardly abuse and murder of women by such bullies is far worse than pathetic, it is a dangerous phenomenon that MUST be addressed as a matter of urgency. Boys need to be taught to respect women from a very young age and young girls MUST be taught that it is imperative to report any man (whether it be their fathers, brothers, boyfriends, partners or male employers) the nano-second emotional or physical abuse comes into play. Girls must be aware that it is absolutely imperative to immediately leave a man who chooses to use his superior strength to intimidate, “punish”, abuse and/or control them and NEVER give such men a “second chance” because history has proven that such men rarely improve and, if anything, this pattern of behaviour only gets worse often leading to murder. This is why it is extremely important that when such men are arrested for domestic violence and their ensuing stalking of women, harsh penalties and long jail sentences MUST be enforced to give their female victims enough time to flee and find refuge.

    WARNING! According to intensive research on this subject, one of the BIGGEST red-flag-warnings that a man is likely to murder a women in a physically abusive relationship, is if they put their hands around their necks and try to strangle them. If any woman is currently in an abusive relationship where their male partner has put their hands around their necks, it is vital that they GET OUT NOW while they can! Any attempt to strangle a woman is one of the final acts of total dominance and proof that their male partner is losing all forms of self-control or any pretence to reign in their rage. At this stage, there is NO LOVE left in the relationship (from his end) only an absolute obsession to control, dominate and force their female partner into total submission. GET OUT NOW and seek refuge in a safe place and remember that one of the most dangerous times for women leaving violent partners is the months directly after the separation.

  6. Canguro

    The title of this essay is both poignant and challenging… why, it may be asked, is DV all too familiar? Why, when it is such a commonplace, do societies at large fail to adjust the parameters such that it becomes a vanishing phenomenon rather than this ugly ogreish expression of the worst kind of social interaction?

    On first reading, I was inclined to argue that it’s a curse that afflicts some but not all cultures and societies. Further investigation revealed the following: Global, regional, and national prevalence estimates of physical or sexual, or both, intimate partner violence against women in 2018, an analysis published in The Lancet based on a WHO Global Database on Prevalence of Violence Against Women. To be frank, it’s an eye-opener. Scroll down to Results (or click Results in the left-sidebar) and look at the graphics on display. DV, it seems, is everywhere, ranging from percentile lows of 16% in Central Europe to as high as 49% in our near neighbourhood. Shocking, indeed.

    And just as starkly, DV is not confined to lower socio-economic strata, though it may be more prevalent on a per incident basis, but the levels of education, relative wealth, social position etc. don’t appear to mitigate against the temptations of (predominantly) men to resort to violence against their partners or children.

    George Gurdjieff, the Greco-Armenian mystic & master psychologist, as well as being a ruthlessly pragmatic individual when it came to his assessment of the human condition, constantly reminded his followers as well as the wider audience via his writings that there is something fundamentally flawed about the human condition; that we live in a state of psychological sleep, that we are unable to see reality as it really is, and that we are prone to all sorts of errors in our daily behaviour with respect to our relations with each other and the world at large. Self-evidently, very few people share that perspective.

    My sister’s first husband was a doctor. His father a banker. The family migrated from England when the children were young. He (the husband) would come home from his shift at the hospital where he worked and punch holes through the laundry wall. I suspect the walls were a proxy for my sister’s body or face… not to make too much of it but she was an annoyingly passive-aggressive hide in the shadows kind of person and I can see how he would have been frustrated by her inability to engage along with his sense of having made a poor choice of partner by marrying her – none of which, obviously, excuses his appalling behaviour. He also held his 18 month-old son by his legs, upside down, outside of a train window when they visited England to meet the relatives, because the toddler wouldn’t stop crying. She divorced him after that incident. The doctor’s siblings, a brother & sister, became respectively a chronically addicted gambler and a sex worker… all three raised in an ostensibly middle-class well to do family. I’d suggest a safe bet that there was damaging DV occurring within that family domain.

    Given the prevalence of violence that is characteristic of the behaviour of humanity, and which has been for millennia or to coin the cliche, since Adam was a boy, it’s hard to see any change coming anytime soon. All of the historic sages, seers & teachers, without exception, have taught that change begins from within, and if that’s taken as an axiomatic expression of truth then all else is just whistling in the wind… futile, pointless, impotent, and bound to fail.

  7. Joe Flood

    As someone who was the subject of extended violence and general senior abuse by three different females when I was ill, it is always hard for me to be neutral on this one, and nor do I care to see this subject used for male-thumping. However, while every study shows that men and women initiate domestic violence at the same rate, men are much stronger and can do a lot more damage. So it is more important to change the behaviour of male offenders – but preferably everybody.

  8. wam

    Joe neutrality is a non-issue we are talking about killing.
    The key to change is through the women who accept the male dominant society and women and men who don’t.

  9. leefe

    First up, don’t pathologise it. The vast majority of violent, abusive and/or controlling blokes do not have any form of recognised mental illness or personality disorder*. The biggest problem is entitlement. Society tells them – in a myriad of ways, both subtle and obvious – that they’re important; more important than those who aren’t blokes. It tells them that they’re the bosses. That they rule. That they should always get what they want. And that especially applies when what they want is one of the things society tells them measures their value as blokes: women and/or sex.

    It’s not just education. We have to change the way we value people. We have to change the way we judge them. Give up the double standards, for one thing; no more of the “he’s a stud, she’s a slut” mentality. No more praising blokes but ignoring or decrying non-blokes for the same behaviour. No more making excuses for blokes’ misbehaviour.
    Change the socialisation. Teach ALL children the same things, value ALL children the same way. If it’s OK for him, it’s OK for her; if it’s not OK for her, then it’s not OK for him either. Let boys be gentle, sad, let them cry, let them feel. Let girls be loud and dirty and active. Grow complete, rounded humans from the start, regardless of their sex or anything about their personal identity. Stop making girls and women and other non-blokes responsible for what the boys and blokes do.

    *note: in support of this contention – non-blokes have mental illnesses or personality disorders just as much as blokes, but they don’t get violent when denied intimacy or control at anywhere near the frequency – or severity – that blokes do.

    Joe Flood:

    That sucks. Older people are particularly vulnerable to some types of abuse/control and I’m sorry you’ve experienced it.

    But the trope that there is no gender difference in the initiation of domestic violence is due to flawed data gathering. As throughout every other aspect of society, misbehaviour by blokes tends to be downplayed, and their grievances exagerrated. Police attitudes make it even worse – it’s not uncommon for police to attend a DV incident and arrest the victim because the bloke is in more control and able to present himself to them better. There are plenty of studies about this.

  10. Caroline

    Canguro, the fact that you are trying to excuse your brother-in-law’s appalling violence towards your sister by calling her a passive/aggressive is symptomatic of the problems of sexual, physical abuse against women! FFS, STOP BLAMING THE VICTIM – the targeting of female victims in domestic abuse is NEVER acceptable, ever! Have you ever wondered WHY your poor sister is passive when she is living with an irrational, totally deranged psychopath who gets his kicks through his physical and emotional abuse and unlawful control of your sister? The total domination and subjugation of women is the hallmark of an insignificant male who is nothing more than a bullying thug who has neither the patience, compassion nor intelligence to debate ANY issue and sees their girlfriend or significant female companion as nothing more than HIS property!

  11. Canguro

    Caroline, I think I’m more than qualified to assess the nature of my sister’s personality given I’ve know her all my life and that she’s significantly younger than me; fyi, she, along with her two elder brothers, were raised in an utterly dysfunctional domestic environment characterised by emotion and physical abuse and all of us carry the scars of those early years. Passive-aggressive is an appropriate descriptor… it’s not a term concocted in the febrile imaginations of fiction writers but an actual feature of certain personality types. If the hat fits, wear it, as the saying goes. Your post seems to have overlooked the point I made that her personality type was not an excuse for her spouse’s appalling behaviour… so, FFS, I was not blaming the victim, nor did I imply that targeting of female victims is ever acceptable. Your rant is off-tangent, completely.

  12. Lyndal

    Caroline, your response reflects something that is very wrong about the current view of women as perpetually victims and men as perpetually perpetrators. This is stereotyping and fails to recognise that. As an abused woman myself, I know it is in my power to make things much worse in many situations.

    A man who is labelled an abuser will find that many domestic violence support organisations are focused on rescuing the woman, not on helping him to get away from a situation he is not coping with. AVOs for example can put a man into homelessness without any assistance, and then they wonder why he is overwhelmingly filled with anger and hate.

    It would be better if there was a possibility of intervention that treated both members of an abusive relationship as in need of help, because they are. I have seen my daughter in law stand blocking the door when my son is angry and wants to leave to cool down for example. If he hit her at that point, only he would be seen as the violent bully.

  13. Clakka

    When great apes as a group are under attack, they form a phalanx; young to mid-aged males at the front, behind them old males, behind them old females, behind them sub-youth males, and at the rear mothers and children. It appears they understand their capabilities, the risks and what it takes to best preserve the continuity of their blood-line.

    I am unsure in pre-history, how humans arranged themselves to best preserve their tribal blood-lines. And for that matter how they arranged themselves to achieve best inter-tribal relationships with their species and the greater surrounds, a detente per se.

    It seems, however that since the advent of civilisation, the egos of many leaders became pathologised. That their pursuit of betterment for their mob turned to a paranoid obsession. Even so far as creating ‘external’ rivals, real or imagined, ‘you’re either with us or against us’, so as to reinforce their grip on power. And as an extension to that, subjugation of the mob, via reward and punishment, varying to brutality and extermination. Few, if any civilisations under such m.o. survived.

    Nevertheless, the pathology persists as an irresistible corruption of power, both sectarian and secular. Societies developed their own brand of sophistry creating the levers for those inclined to the pursuit of power, and an inculcated cause and effect belief system participated in by the greater mob. And over time, in the name of God, or not, goodies and baddies have become indistinguishable; ‘one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.’ Giving rise to a prevalence of ‘absolutism’ at odds with the self-governing complexities of nature seeking an equilibrium.

    And so it goes on, waning and fluxing dependent upon the gains and losses of individuals, families, communities and countries, attributable not only to human and environmental capacities, but largely by the decisions of those affected by or wielding power and its pathologies. In modernity, it could be seen that First Nations folk are better attuned to human and environmental capacities, and not power. However the creep of those pathologies, embedded in folklore, stories, religion, academia and the writs and behaviour of parliaments, is pervasive and insidious.

    And in the main, in a continuum of damage, few are encouraged or taught to continually look into their heart and their own resources of peaceful, joyous interdependence, but rather to knuckle down and accept and thrive or fight within the status quo of might and power come what may. The grip of such knuckling down may be fine as good times roll, but in times of stress and desperation, rather than constructive, peaceful, joyous interdependence, the taught response is to power and its pathologies and an inevitable magnifying conflict and destruction.

    We are all subject to the underlying omnipresence of those pathological inculcations, and to a greater or lesser extent, as Reich said, “we armour our souls.” Such armour and our chosen weapons of defence and / or attack will come to the fore as we feel threatened or our diary of accumulated deficits, real or perceived, overwhelms us. Or in the absence of alternatives, a resignation to a path to oblivion.

    But, of course, there is an alternative, and that is education, from infancy onward, in constructive, peaceful, joyous interdependence, and internal and external conflict resolution. If we are so stuck or troubled we cannot reach into our hearts, we must be made aware that we are not ‘the top of the stack’, but an interdependent part of nature as a whole, and that to nurture and participate in nature is the only constructive path. Then and there we might find ourselves and others.

  14. leefe

    ” … she was an annoyingly passive-aggressive hide in the shadows kind of person and I can see how he would have been frustrated by her inability to engage … ” (my italics)

    That is, while not overtly blaming the victim, expressing understanding for the perpetrator. Even suggesting a degree of sympathy. And this is part of what we face and why we face it.

    Did she hit him? Did she believably threaten to hit him? Was she an immediate physical threat to someone else? Those are acceptable reasons for using a (limited) degree of physical violence yourself; not excessive, just what is required to neutralise the situation if there is no other feasible option. She did none of that? Then her “passive aggressive” behaviour and “inability to engage” are not relevant.
    Did the perpetrator face annoyances and frustrations at work? Well, we all do, don’t we. Did he react to those annoyances and frustrations with physical violence? Very, very few do. That shows DV perpetrators are perfectly capable of controlling themselves; they choose not to when in a situation where they are certain they have the ascendance.

    Stop framing the victim – however subtly or gently – as being part of the problem. The problem is the people who chose to resort to violence.


    I don’t care. If he has made the choice to get violent, he can find his own path to redemption. The victim has the priority.

  15. Lyndal

    Leefe: I don’t think you read my example. My daughter in law is quite willing to physically attack when she is angry. Many people are only just holding it together and when alcohol, drugs, and terrible fear, stress and anxiety , not to mention mental illness, are added to the mix, it is not smart to decide the female was the poor suffering victim and the great hulking bully is the male..
    I agree that the problem is that some one decides to resort to violence, and the Stronger person really needs the greater amount of self-control. Still, I have seen terrible marks inflicted on my son, and he is not going to call the Police because his girl attacked him. This is another problem that our society is not helping to deal with.
    My own problems with dealing with abuse from my other, autistic, son have shown me that there is little help if you do not want to involve police, AVOs and the legal system. Although there is a “pop-in” centre that is supposed to help people who are in fear of domestic violence, it closes by 5pm and on weekends –
    All I am trying to say is that there needs to be help for both people in an abusive relationship.

  16. Caroline

    What Lyndal, and many people on this site, fail to appreciate is that the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of victims of physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse, and who are victims of stalking, are women as outlined in a national research revealed on this issue (click on the following link). Furthermore, the statistics revealed fail to present the TRUE extent of abuse experienced by women by a close and/or intimate partner because, in the huge majority of cases, such ongoing abuse is NOT reported by many women who are terrified of the repercussions they (and their children) will experience if they report the offender.

    Yes, there are men who are, sadly, victims of abuse by their female partners or a close female relative, however, men have the strength to defend themselves (or walk away), whereas many women are totally defenceless and, in conjunction with physical and sexual abuse, are often the victims of financial abuse where they are not “allowed” to seek outside employment, have no money and, as such, nowhere else to go, especially if they also have young children to defend and take care of.

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