This article deals with domestic violence and abuse which could be triggering to some. If you, or someone you know, needs help contact 1800RESPECT.
It's been well established that rates of domestic violence increase during times of crisis, and while the world continues to grapple with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of domestic violence in Australia, whether it be emotional, physical or verbal, remains one of our countries most prevalent issues.
On average, 1 woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner in Australia, according to the National Homicide Monitoring Program report. Almost 10 women a day are hospitalised for assault injuries perpetrated by a spouse or domestic partner, per the AIHW, and in 2019 alone 3600 women hospitalised for assault injuries identified a spouse or domestic partner as the perpetrator.
But while many of us have been adapting to life at home, that reality can present a serious challenge for those living with an abusive partner or family member.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows that stress, unemployment, a disability or health condition, poor or fair health, and low levels of life satisfaction are all significant factors for increased partner violence, almost all of which have hit Australians in a perfect storm since the global health crisis began.
On February 20, just before COVID-19 became virtually the world's sole focus, Australia witnessed one of the most horrifying family violence murders in recent history. Thirty-one-year-old Hannah Clarke and her three children, Aaliyah, six, Laianah, four, and Trey, three, were burned to death by the children's father and Hannah's estranged partner, Rowan Baxter. He ambushed them as Hannah was putting the kids in the car to take them to school, dousing the vehicle in petrol and setting it alight in broad daylight outside Hannah's parents' home on a suburban Brisbane street. The three children were killed inside the car. Hannah was on fire as she stumbled from the burning vehicle and died in hospital later that day, after suffering burns to 97 per cent of her body.
Since then, Google reports a 75 per cent surge in searches for domestic violence.
And while the murder of Hannah and her three children was meant to be the catalyst for change in Australia, to finally see coercive control and partner violence taken more seriously, as Jaeneen Cunningham, the chief executive officer of Safe Haven Community, previously told marie claire Australia: "We've done nothing."
In a period of four weeks, Australia has seen five women lose their lives to violence.
Emerald Wardle, an 18-year-old woman, was found dead inside her home near Maitland on June 20. Her boyfriend, 20, has been charged with murder.
Karen Gilliland, a mother-of-three from Rockhampton, died on June 23 after being stabbed by her estranged husband in front of two of their children.
Liqun Pan, a 19-year-old student, was found dead in her Wolli Creek apartment on June 28. Her boyfriend is alleged to have attempted a murder-suicide, and he was later found with serious injuries and remains in an induced coma unable to speak to police.
Roselyn Staggard's husband found the "doting grandmother" in their home in Caversham, WA, on July 1 after allegedly being killed at the hands of her own son.
Elaine Pandilovski, an education support staffer, was found murdered in her Melbourne home on July 14. Her estranged husband Zoran Pandilovski has since been taken into custody.
It's five lives too many.
The National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line – 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) – is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any Australian who's experienced, or is at risk of domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
This article originally appeared on marie claire
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