Domestic violence is having an increasing presence in the New South Wales community according to recent figures from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics.
While other crimes across the state declined over the four year period to December 2013, the rate of domestic violence assaults increased 1.9 per cent. The rate is the highest in the state since 1999 and calculates to 94 domestic abuse cases reported to police daily.
Deputy Police Commissioner Nick Kaldas told The Age that domestic violence is one of the major focuses for police, and regional NSW statistics are of greatest concern.
''The Department of Community Services, health, education and the police are working much closer together than we have in times gone by to try and stop the problem rather than trying to deal with it as purely a law enforcement issue,'' he said.
According to the bureau's director Don Weatherburn, who was also speaking to The Age, the rate of domestic violence in regional NSW is 11 times higher than in Sydney. Some examples he gave were quite disturbing.
In Walgett, the domestic violence rate was eight times the NSW rate, in Moree four times and in Bourke more than 11 times the state rate.
If you are in an abusive relationship
Anyone who is the victim of domestic violence - regardless of gender - is urged to contact police and consult with a family lawyer.
A lawyer can help sort out legal issues around the violence and suggest options the victim can take. If a spouse or children are involved, then a lawyer can assist with drawing up divorce proceedings and child custody agreements.
The rate of reported domestic violence cases is only the tip of the iceberg with police believing up to half of all incidents go unreported. As a community, it is important to notice the signs of domestic violence and if you are in a abusive relationship what steps you can take to protect yourself and your family. To recognise there is abuse is the first step to solving the issue - some signs to watch out for include:
- Friends not wanting to go home after work or being out
- Bruises around hands or neck could be a sign that abuse is taking place
- Anxious to please or wait on their partner
- Controlling a person's finances is a form of emotional abuse
- Explaining unusual injuries as "accidents"
If you suspect someone is the victim of abuse.
- Offer support to someone you think is in need
- Back their decision to contact a family lawyer and police
- Offer a safe environment for them to stay in.