DV, the ‘hidden scourge’

Would you know what to do if you witnessed domestic violence in a public setting? Picture: UNSPLASH

Moore resident Bradley Love and his 14-year-old son were traumatised after witnessing a man physically assaulting a woman at the service station in Harlin in late March.

Mr Love said the community had turned out to support a charity organisation at the Harlin Hotel, but the incident likely traumatised people and ruined a positive experience.

“Sadly, walking to the premises I was alerted by a scuffle at the nearby service station,” Mr Love said.

“It came to my awakening from the screams and argument that a man was physically assaulting a woman at the service station.

“It was hard to initially see as it was dark and a man was on top of another body.”

Locals heard the concerns and walked over to defuse the situation, and Mr Love said QPS were alerted, but the man and woman left before police arrived.

Toogoolawah Police Station Officer in Charge Sergeant John Cumner confirmed police attended Harlin in relation to a report of a female being assaulted by a male, and the matter was before the courts.

“Police conducted investigations that evening and into the next day, resulting in police making an Application for a Protection Order,” Sgt Cumner said.

“Similarly to the rest of the country, domestic violence is an ongoing issue in the community.

“Local police respond to domestic violence matters on a regular basis, with DV calls for service the most regular and consistent call for service attended.”

Mr Love said Australian Bureau of Statistics data from 2017 showed 23% of Australian women reported having experienced at least one incident of violence by an intimate partner or ex-partner since the age of 15.

“In light of these figures I sincerely encourage both people involved in the physical altercation to seek support and assistance,” Mr Love said.

The incident prompted Mr Love to investigate education opportunities for bystanders to domestic violence.

“I think DV is a hidden scourge… the reluctance of some I witnessed to engage in any form of de-escalating the incident highlights societal ambivalence or insights,” he said.

“I relayed my concerns to the security guards, but they highlighted that as it was off the premises they could not partake in any measures.

““Would the reaction of some people be different if a car accident occurred in front of the premises?”

Sgt Cumner said bystanders should contact police immediately.

“If a person observes any incident where they suspect or believe the physical welfare of a person is at immediate risk, call 000 and provide as much information as possible,” he said.

Domestic Violence Action Centre (DVAC) Ipswich and Toowoomba is the regional domestic and sexual violence service for the Lockyer Valley and Somerset regions.

DVAC service manager Kathleen Turley said bystanders to public domestic violence should assess their own safety before considering engaging.

“If they observe somebody who might be starting to yell or talk loudly or to be verbally abusive to a partner, from a bystander’s point of view there’s the option, if they feel it’s safe, to go in and interrupt into that conversation,” she said.

Ms Turley suggested using excuses to interrupt verbal abuse such as ‘can you tell me where such-and-such is, I’m new to the area, can you give me directions’.

“If things are more escalated, from a bystander’s point of view there’s no expectation that they would then engage and become part of what’s going on,” Ms Turley said.

Ms Turley said DVAC provide a range of support services to victim survivors including information, counselling, referrals to other services and to legal support.

Contact DVAC on 3816 3000 or visit dvac.org.au