Domestic violence and children
Western Australia has the second highest rate of reported physical and sexual violence incidences. The Northern Territory has the highest.
1 in 6 women have experienced physical or sexual violence perpetrated by a current or previous partner. The rate of abuse for Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander women is considerably higher. Furthermore, 1 in 16 men has reported being a victim of family violence (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017).
Of the women who have reported suffering from family violence, more than two thirds who had children in their care have reported the children witnessed the violence (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017).
Violence against men and women not only affects the parents but also their children.
In Western Australia between 2015 and 2016, 4582 reported allegations of child abuse or neglect were substantiated, meaning there was reasonable cause to believe a child had been harmed (Child Protection Australia 2015-2016). In Western Australia, the most common type of harm reported was emotional abuse. Emotional abuse in Western Australia includes witnessing domestic violence.
Some of the effects this may have on children include:
- Behavioural problems;
- Mental health issues;
- Being the perpetrator or victim of bullying; and
- Learning difficulties and lower attendance at school.
Additionally, the child or children may form a misrepresented understanding of family relationships and the correct treatment of both women and men.
The Family Court deals with issues around family violence and will first and foremost consider the best interests of the children.
However, even before commencing action in the Family Court, there are a number of other avenues and resources a person can use to escape family violence and protect the children.
If you want more advice regarding what might be considered family violence or abuse, or you would like to know the options to take to protect yourself or your children, please contact one of our family law solicitors.