Police say blaming family violence on drugs and alcohol is a cop out

THE largest form of violence facing south-west women with a disability is family violence.

The disturbing trend comes as Warrnambool police warn they are upping the ante on those who commit violence in the home.

VIOLENCE: South West Carers and Respite Services Network co-ordinator Wendy Jones says women with a disability are twice as likely to experience family violence as a person without a disability. Picture: Christine Ansorge

VIOLENCE: South West Carers and Respite Services Network co-ordinator Wendy Jones says women with a disability are twice as likely to experience family violence as a person without a disability. Picture: Christine Ansorge

South West Carers and Respite Services Network co-ordinator Wendy Jones said women with a disability were more likely to experience violence from a range of perpetrators, often more than one, over a lifetime. 

“They’re twice as likely to experience family violence than women and children who are able bodied,” she said. She said women with a disability also faced abuse that would not be perpetrated against an able bodied person. “So for example withholding medication, withholding mobility aids or threatening institutionalisation,” she said. “The other issue could be that the violence is perpetrated by a carer and when you rely on a carer for your daily needs it’s a lot more difficult to remove yourself from that violence or have access to services.

“It’s happening locally because it’s happening everywhere.”

Warrnambool police Inspector Gary Coombes said addressing family violence was as much of a priority as drug offences or road trauma.

Research showed one in four Australian women had experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner and women were at least three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner.

Inspector Coombes said family violence occurred because of a power imbalance and a lack of respect. He said using drugs or alcohol as a reason to explain violence was shirking the real causes. “Not every male in this world commits family violence,” he said. “It gets back to the inequality of the sexes and how some men interpret that. The number one ticket item is respect. Using drugs or alcohol as an excuse is absolutely pathetic. People have got to be able to control themselves.”

If you know anyone in immediate danger, phone police on 000.