Kudos to the Federal Government. No, I never thought I would say it, but they took me by surprise and I can’t deny that the Federal Government seems finally to have done something right.
So why is this survivor so excited? The Government has made announcements that show some very real understanding of the experiences of survivors of domestic violence.
Specifically, the provision of funding for CCTV, lock changes and for “tracking free” mobile phones. Clearly these announcements have been informed by survivors, and that is great news.
If a woman chooses to stay home her safety is not assured, but can be protected a little by measures such as changing the locks and installing CCTV. Few women leaving an abusive relationship have a spare $700 to $1200 up their sleeve, because with physical and psychological abuse come financial abuse and isolation from support networks.
In my case a friend gave me $300 to change my locks. That is a kindness I will never forget.
It is no surprise that Victorian domestic violence workers had overwhelmingly reported clients experienced “technology facilitated abuse”. (ABC 24th Sept. 2015).
GPS tracking software, hidden cameras and key logging software are now readily available at a bargain price. Inline GPS trackers that can easily be hidden in the victim’s car are readily available online and at electronics stores. Just google spyware and take your pick. They are also simple to use. Sites selling spyware often tout them as “spouse busters” but in my experience it is the abusive partner who employs technology for monitoring the other.
Such technologies allow an abuser to monitor their victim’s activities, to access her contacts, to access her passwords and bank accounts. While he is with his target he can carry on his own activities with confidence, for example seducing his next victim, because he knows his current victim is not where she will discover his affair.
He can drop hints about where she has been, giving her a sense of confusion and craziness. Post-separation the technologies really come into their own. A woman who is being tracked via her mobile phone is easily stalked, and cannot confidently secure a space in a Safe House. The abuser has access to locations of friends and relatives who may be supporting the victim.
The announcement of training for hospital staff is welcome, but must be extended to mandate training for GP’s, psychiatrists, police, teachers and Child Protection workers.
Domestic violence and child abuse are not exclusive issues. While we have police who actively discredit victims and teachers who allow abusers access to their students, and psychiatrists who willingly diagnose Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as delusion and psychopathy, survivors of both domestic violence and child abuse will continue to be traumatised by the system that professes to protect them.
A GP who does not recognise trauma and who does not understand cognitive dissonance at work in their own thinking will often resist requests for appropriate treatment, putting the survivor at further risk.
For example, infections associated with sexual abuse are treated as a symptom of diabetes despite no clinical indicator, bleeding from rape is investigated as potential cancer, and there is resistance to testing for STI’s in women and children who have been raped.
It is all very well to spread the message that “Real men don’t hit women”, but domestic violence is far more complex than that.
Domestic violence often leaves no bruises on the body, but debilitates psychologically and financially. The community rarely sees tangible evidence of the abuse. Psychopathy has been linked to childhood sexual abuse and family dysfunction.
No psychopath will be swayed by a perception that his peers do not approve of his secretive rape, stalking and control of his partner and her children.
*Becky Morgan is a pseudonym. Becky is known to the Editor ...