By Georgia Terry. Edited for online by Cameron Kirby.
Ethnic women who are victims of domestic abuse across Australia are often reluctant to come forward about their ordeal, however community organisations are hoping to encourage them to speak up.
Community organisations say women from culturally diverse backgrounds are increasingly victims of domestic violence in the home.
Domestic violence month is held during May each year to raise community awareness and promote a clear message that domestic and family violence will not be tolerated in our communities, and this year ethnic women are the focus.
Queensland’s Centre for Domestic and Family Violence interim director Heather Lovette says ethnic women do not come forward for many reasons.
“There are particular difficulties around social isolation, possible language difficulties, negative stereotyping and sometimes misrepresentation,” she said.
A growing number of support services are available for domestic abuse victims, and some catering specifically to ethnic women.
Enough is Enough chief executive officer and founder Ken Marslew says more ethnic women are beginning to speak out.
“I believe that ethnic women are now starting to come forward, whereas previously it was something that was kept behind closed doors,” he said. “But now I think the women are prepared to step up because they know that there are support mechanisms for them.”
Immigrant Women’s Support Service Director, Cecilia Barassi-Rubio, works daily with women who experience abuse in the home.
“In terms of what the women experience, they can experience the whole range of abuse that might go from physical to emotional and sexual violence in a relationship,” she said. “That relationship might be a spousal relationship.
Speaking up about domestic abuse is a complicated issue, and tight ethnic communites can often make encouraging speaking up problematic.
Mrs Barassi-Rubio says pressure is often put on the victims to remain quiet.
“Some women will experience a lot of pressure from their community in terms of keeping the marriage together, keeping the relationship together,” she said. “Because if they disclose the abuse then somehow the community may feel they are shaming the community by disclosing that.”
Support groups encourage anyone suffering from domestic abuse to seek help or call the Immigrant Women’s Support Service on (07) 3846 3490.