May is Domestic and Family Violence Prevention Month in Queensland and this year we are all called on to Do Something to address the impact of domestic and family violence in our communities.

The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s Family, domestic and sexual violence in Australia 2018 provides an insight into this issue, drawing from over 20 major data sources on causes, impacts and outcomes. The report finds 1 in 6 women over the age of 15 experience violence at the hands of an intimate partner, and are more likely to experience violence at the hands of a current or previous partner than from any other source. This type of violence most often takes place within the home, usually out of sight of others, but often in front of children whose exposure to this violence can result in long term effects on their development and an increased risk of mental health issues, and behavioural and learning difficulties. The report also found that children who experienced physical abuse or sexual abused themselves before they were 15 were around 3 times as likely to experience domestic violence after the age of 15. Other vulnerable groups with heightened risk of experiencing violence are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, young women, pregnant women, women with disability, and women experiencing financial hardship.

A decade-long study published in the journal BMJ Open examined more than 33,000 ethnically diverse women presenting to give birth at a major hospital in Western Sydney between 2006 and 2016, and found that experiences of intimate partner violence (IPV) during pregnancy spanned all cultural groups, suggesting pregnancy is a risk factor across all cultures. Violence during pregnancy increases the risk of low birthweight, premature birth, diabetes and heart disease. The study found that women born in New Zealand (7.2 per cent) and Sudan (9.1 per cent) were most likely to disclose IPV during routine psychosocial assessment at the first antenatal booking visit, with women from China and India least likely to disclose IPV. The study found that nearly a quarter of women disclosing domestic violence also disclosed childhood abuse.

Brain Injury Australia in conjunction with researchers at Monash University and the Centre for Excellence in Child and Family Welfare recently conducted an Australian first project into the prevalence of acquired brain injury for domestic violence victims and perpetrators. The researchers found that 40 per cent of 16,000 family violence victims admitted to hospital between July 2006 and June 2017 had sustained a brain injury, and that 1 in 3 of those admitted were children under 18 years. Researchers contended that the figures potentially still don’t reveal the full extent of brain injuries inflicted by perpetrators of family violence. Read more about survivors’ stories or view the report.