Domestic Violence

Table of Contents

About Us

The goal of Michelle Barratt Psychology, a clinical psychology practice in Toowong, Wynnum- Manly, is to offer the best possible care for victims of domestic violence in Brisbane. The clinic places high importance on providing assistance and care that not only aims to make all children and teenagers feel safe, heard, and understood but also aims to provide efficient care that will enable patients to gain new skills that will help them in the future. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you are unsure of what you are dealing with so we can help you through the process of deciding what to do or how to arrange an appointment.

What is Domestic Abuse

Abuse can take various forms, each with its own damaging effects on individuals. This short write-up provides a concise overview of different types of abuse, including physical abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse, and sexual abuse.

Physical Abuse:

Physical abuse involves the deliberate use of force against another person, resulting in physical harm or injury. It encompasses actions such as hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, choking, burning, shaking, or using objects as weapons. Physical abuse can cause immediate injuries as well as long-term physical and emotional consequences for the victim.

Verbal Abuse:

Verbal abuse refers to the use of spoken or written words to belittle, insult, threaten, or demean another person. It includes yelling, name-calling, constant criticism, humiliation, mocking, or using derogatory language. Verbal abuse can cause significant emotional and psychological distress, damaging the victim’s self-esteem, sense of worth, and mental well-being. 

Psychological Abuse:

Psychological abuse, also known as emotional abuse, involves behaviours that manipulate, control, or undermine another person’s sense of self-worth and autonomy. It includes tactics such as gaslighting, constant criticism, humiliation, isolation, intimidation, threats, or withholding affection. Psychological abuse can lead to long-lasting emotional trauma, anxiety, depression, and feelings of powerlessness in the victim.

Financial Abuse:

Financial abuse occurs when an individual exerts control over another person’s financial resources without their consent or knowledge. It can involve actions such as stealing money, controlling finances, preventing access to financial information, exploiting assets, coercing financial decisions, or sabotaging employment or educational opportunities. Financial abuse can leave victims financially dependent and vulnerable, restricting their ability to escape the abusive situation.

Sexual Abuse:

Sexual abuse involves any non-consensual sexual act or behaviour imposed on an individual against their will. It includes actions such as rape, sexual assault, molestation, unwanted touching, coercion, or any sexual activity involving a person unable to provide consent (e.g., due to age, intoxication, or incapacity). Sexual abuse can cause severe physical, emotional, and psychological trauma, often leading to long-term consequences for the survivor.

Understanding the different forms of abuse is crucial for recognizing and addressing these harmful behaviours. Whether it is physical, verbal, psychological, financial, or sexual abuse, it is essential to promote awareness, support survivors, and foster a culture of respect, consent, and non-violence. By working together, we can strive to prevent and combat all forms of abuse, ensuring the well-being and safety of individuals in our communities.

How we can help!

  1. Emotional support: Psychologists and therapists can provide a safe and non-judgmental space for individuals to express their emotions, fears, and concerns related to domestic violence. They can help victims process their experiences, build resilience, and develop coping strategies.
  2. Trauma-informed care: Psychologists who specialize in trauma can help individuals address the psychological and emotional impact of domestic violence. They can assist in managing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or other mental health conditions that may arise from the trauma.
  3. Safety planning: Psychologists can work with individuals to develop personalized safety plans, taking into account their unique circumstances and needs. These plans may include identifying triggers, exploring strategies for self-protection, and establishing support networks.
  4. Self-esteem and empowerment: Domestic violence often erodes an individual’s self-esteem and sense of agency. Psychologists can help rebuild self-worth, foster resilience, and empower victims to regain control of their lives.
  5. Breaking the cycle: For individuals who have experienced or witnessed domestic violence in their upbringing, psychology can assist in breaking the cycle of violence. Therapists can help individuals understand unhealthy relationship dynamics, learn healthy communication skills, and promote positive relationship patterns.

It’s important to consult with qualified mental health professionals or psychologists who specialize in trauma and domestic violence to receive appropriate support tailored to your specific situation. They can provide personalized guidance and interventions to help you navigate the challenges of domestic violence and facilitate your healing process.

Family Violence and The Impact on Our Children and Adolescents

Family violence, sometimes referred to as domestic violence or intimate partner violence, is conduct by a family member or other major relationship member that poses a threat to or poses a risk to other family members or relationship participants. Physical violence, psychological/emotional abuse, sexual assault, financial abuse, and cultural and religious abuse are all examples of violence. The violence frequently results in fear, distress, isolation, severe bodily injury, and even death because one person is using their power and control over others (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018). Children and teenagers are more likely to witness or become victims of domestic and family violence during and after parental separation than other age groups (Campo, 2015).
Having a violent upbringing and growing up in a family full of stress and anxiety can have long-term effects on a child’s and adolescent’s development, mental health, behaviour, and ability to learn (Campo 2015). For a kid or adolescent, emotional abuse (such as name-calling, humiliation, screaming, insults, or swearing) can be extremely unpleasant and result in enduring issues with feelings of low self-worth and concern for their safety. A child or adolescent who witnesses physical violence against a person they care about may experience feelings of fear and powerlessness.
A child or adolescent may not be able to “see” violence, but it can nevertheless cause great fear, worry, and stress because it frequently involves shouting, screaming, and breaking objects. Violence makes the home and school environment more stressful and anxious. Children and teenagers become particularly sensitive to changes in the climate, stress levels, and mood in the home, which might make them continually alert for danger indications (Australian Child & Adolescent Trauma, Loss & Grief Network Stepping Up for Kids, 2016).
Family violence can have an impact on how a child perceives what typical interactions with parents and friends are like, as well as normalise violence as a necessary component of society. When a youngster witnesses familial violence, the effects can be more severe the younger the child (Australian Child & Adolescent Trauma, Loss & Grief Network Stepping Up for Kids, 2016). The development of a mother’s unborn child, particularly the development of the brain, can be seriously impacted by her ongoing exposure to “chronic stress” associated with familial violence. Infants who are exposed to parental violence are significantly more likely to bond insecurely, which can have a severe effect on their relationships later in life.
Adults who live or work with children frequently fail to take into account a kid’s or adolescent’s exposure to violence. They also frequently fail to recognise the active role a child can play in ensuring the safety of themselves, their siblings, and even their parents. The child or teenager may suffer from financial instability, housing instability, a break in touch with extended family, and disruptions in their schooling as a direct result of the violence. While it is vital for adults to be concerned about a child’s safety if they exhibit aggressive or violent behaviour in public places, this is not always a sign that they are in danger. It’s critical that we get what anguish looks like when it’s not “messy and noisy” because not all endangered youngsters “act out” (Australian Child & Adolescent Trauma, Loss & Grief Network Stepping Up for Kids, 2016).
Not all children and adolescents are impacted by family violence in the same way. ‘Protective’ factors that may provide better mental health outcomes include:

  • a non-violent parent that provides structure, warmth, emotional support, and positive reinforcement
  • positive support from other adults outside their immediate family, such as relatives, family friends and teachers
  • close and supportive sibling relationships
  • a child’s unique characteristics (e.g., personality, resilience, age)
  • being able to maintain regular routines such as attendance at school and extracurricular activities.
  • whether the child received an adequate response/treatment following the domestic and family violence

The prevention of family violence must be a top concern, as must providing surroundings that are physically and mentally secure for children and adolescents. In order for us, as a community, to be able to give our children the tools to build healthy and respectful relationships in adulthood, it is crucial that they have the critical thinking abilities to question gender norms and attitudes that enable violence (Campo, 2015).

Author: Dee Pakendorf

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