Young Aussies’ alarming blindspot
CONCERNING new research has highlighted a worrying blindspot for young Australian women.
Though public awareness and discussion of domestic violence has skyrocketed in recent years following a spotlight being shone on the issue by governments and campaigners like Rosie Batty, it seems the message isn't getting through to everyone - particularly those who need it most.
A survey of 1000 Australians showed younger respondents - those aged 18 to 24 - were least likely to recognise examples of domestic violence and abuse.
The survey, commissioned by support provider BaptistCare, showed a majority of young Australians were unable to recognise an example of social abuse as domestic violence, while older women were on the ball.
When given an the example of a man texting his partner incessantly to check up on where she is and who she is with, only 40 per cent of respondents aged 18 - 24 recognised this as an indicator of abuse.
When it came to those over 65, 80 per cent recognised the example as an indicator of social abuse.
Younger respondents were less likely to recognise indicators of all types of domestic violence they were given examples of, including financial, sexual, spiritual, emotional, verbal and physical abuse.
Controlling all the money and making the woman explain every dollar she spends? A third of those aged 18 - 24 didn't consider this financial abuse, while 86 per cent of those over 65 did.
Telling a woman she is fat, ugly, stupid and no one else would want to be with her? More than a quarter of 18 - 24-year-olds said this was not an example of domestic violence while only 14 per cent of older respondents thought the same.
Of all types of domestic violence, younger women were least likely to recognise the signs of social abuse, and most likely to recognise sexual abuse.
While the recognition of physical violence, given the example of pushing a woman or pulling her hair - was high at 82 per cent, there was still a great disparity with those in higher age brackets, who were all more likely to consider this an example of domestic violence.
The study also found those across all age groups were far more likely to recognise examples of domestic than men, particularly when given examples of economic abuse. Only 67 per cent of men identified examples of economic violence compared with 82 per cent of women.
BaptistCare's general manager of community services Robert Ellis said the research highlighted the urgent need for investment in education for young Australians about healthy relationships, and how to identify and respond to abusive behaviours.
"We know abusive patterns in relationships can start with seemingly minor changes in behaviour and rapidly escalate to more dangerous, sometimes fatal situations," Mr Ellis said.
"In many cases where women have been murdered by their current or former partner, it has been the first time that person exhibited physically violent behaviour, but in retrospect there are often warning signs.
"The partner may have successfully isolated the woman from her friends and family, taken control of her finances, or chipped away at her confidence and self-worth. If we want to end the cycle of violence, younger generations need to be more aware of those early warning signs."
Despite gaps in recognition, Millennials were the most likely to think that tougher laws are needed to combat domestic violence, compared to about a quarter of Baby Boomers.