Raymond Terrace community groups have banded together in the face of a significant spike in the number of domestic violence cases being reported to police, due in part to the restrictions and isolation brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
It was reported this week that NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research’s latest findings had revealed an increase of 59.6 per cent in domestic assaults in Raymond Terrace for the 12 months to June 2020.
“It is critical that any victims, often women and children, fearing for their safety should immediately contact police. Our service is available to support victims seeking to escape violent relationships or end up homeless,” Ms Fletcher said.
“The COVID restrictions have made it more difficult for victims to flee a violent relationship, especially when the perpetrator is spending more time at home or is out of work.”
She said that accessing secure homes and family sharing had also become a juggle due to COVID physical distancing protocols.
Medowie solicitor Brooke Vitnell, who has worked with victims of domestic violence and elder abuse, described the increase as “a horrifying blight on the community”.
“With isolation and social distancing from COVID-19 comes many vulnerable people in our community are forced into close confines with domestic violence perpetrators,” Ms Vitnell said.
“In the current environment, the availability of emergency shelters for victims of domestic violence is a major concern. Financial security or a lack of, often prohibits domestic violence victims from leaving their abusers.
“As some normal life and services have been shut down, victims are exposed to abusers for long periods of time and are cut off from society and from supports. We must be vigilant by asking our neighbours, friends, family and colleagues if they are okay – via phone or from over the fence, and by continuing to check in.”
She said that domestic violence did not have to be physical, “it can also be found in the forms of verbal, financial abuse and coercion”.
Paterson MP Meryl Swanson said that she was deeply saddened by the increase in domestic and family violence across the Raymond Terrace community.
“More must be done to help communities grappling with the scourge of domestic violence. If you or someone you know are struggling please reach out because help is available.”
For domestic violence help phone 1800Respect (1800 737 732) or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au. Alternatively call the NSW DV Line on 1800 656 463.
If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, phone Triple Zero (000) immediately.