- Join Got Your Back Sista and stand up to domestic violence at the Newcastle Knights versus Canterbury Bulldogs NRL game on July 12. Register at https://www.mycause.com.au/events/2019gybsknights
MORE research needs to be done into the reasons why people commit acts of domestic violence in order to stop the problem, according to University of Newcastle associate professor and clinical psychologist Lynne McCormack.
"Researchers need to engage with people who have received an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO)," she said.
Associate professor McCormack was part of a team of researchers that developed mobile phone app Bernie in 2017 to support defendants issued with an ADVO to strengthen positive decision-making around behaviours and emotions and help them understand their legal responsibilities under the ADVO.
"We're struggling to get money to take our research further.
"This is a community problem and we need to put money into researching everyone involved - but not at the expense of women and children."
Associate professor McCormack said research indicated about two thirds of people who commit domestic violence are able to positively engage in rehabilitation programs, but when people re-offend it's usually within four months of an ADVO.
"Because there's such little research on reasons why people offend, it is very hard to find out why that is happening," she said.
"Is it they don't understand the ADVO? Do they feel unsupported, do they not have the right person to speak to?"
She said research indicated there was a greater likelihood of children becoming victims or engaging in personal violent acts as adults if they had been exposed by one or both of their parents to abuse.
"Therefore research that includes trans-generational patterns of behaviour within relationships is important," she said.
"But that's no excuse for perpetrating violence or for bad behaviour in your adult life - they still have to take responsibility. We need to work better with families and children about healthy relationships."
She said other factors that were likely to impact people's behaviour choices included exposure to extreme trauma; mental health problems; poor coping mechanisms; emotional irregulation; the increasing stresses of family life and societal factors including a lack of public housing.
"Anybody who is feeling intense emotions and that they may harm someone should remove themselves from the situation and please not be afraid to seek help and talk to someone about it."
The Newcastle Herald reported last week that a new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report had show the rate of hospitalisation of women assaulted by a partner rose at an average of 2.8 per cent per year between 2002-03 and 2016-17, when two thirds of hospitalisations were for injuries to the head and/or neck.
"Someone who is doing this is extremely angry," Associate professor McCormack said.
"They may be feeling powerless and are trying to get power back. I suspect they have gone beyond thinking they have a responsibility to not hurt someone else.
"They may think 'This is our family and we sort our own problems out'. Some don't realise it's a criminal offence to touch someone in a damaging way."
She said while physical attacks sometimes escalated to extreme assault, there were even more "warning bells" if a person targeted their victim's head and neck the first time they were physically violent.
"This is not a normal one-off," she said.
"It suggests this person needs some specialist and maybe immediate help.
"It's a very intense warning sign for the victim that something is extremely wrong - something is happening for the other person. They should seek support straight away."
Anti-domestic violence charity Got Your Back Sista (GYBS) and its chief executive Melissa Histon-Browning has asked the community to make a public stand against abuse at the July 12 game between the Newcastle Knights and Canterbury Bulldogs.
"Domestic violence is a huge, huge problem in our community," Ms Histon-Browning said.
"We need to do something to engage our community and... it doesn't get any bigger than a Newcastle Knights game.
"We see a whole cross section of society... we've had people say 'Thank you so much for raising awareness because I've experienced domestic violence myself'."
GYBS will hand attendees 'say no' banners and ask them to hold the banners up when asked what the community should say to domestic violence.
Those who register and donate will receive a shirt and ticket in the GYBS supporters' bay.
Details: https://www.mycause.com.au/events/2019gybsknights. For help: 1800 RESPECT.