There are many psychological and practical barriers faced by women who are victims of domestic violence when dealing with domestic violence services and the legal system. These may include:
- fear of reprisal
- feelings of shame
- responsibility for children
- concerns about financial consequences
- lack of knowledge of the legal system.
It is also recognised that some groups of women may face additional barriers in dealing with the legal system, due to their race, ethnicity, sexuality, and/or disability. It may be that a woman’s background means that she faces a complex range of barriers, for example, an immigrant woman who has a disability may face barriers because of her immigrant status and because of her disability.
Some additional barriers to culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) victims of domestic violence include:
- cultural mistrust of police and legal systems
- cultural stigma and risk of being rejected by family and communities in which they are settled
- language barriers
- reliance/perceived reliance on abusive partner for visa/immigration and for financial support
- lack of family and other support systems to assist them in leaving the situation – particularly where there are children born to the relationship.
Services need to be equipped to reach out to all victims of violence to ensure equity in accessing assistance.
Pets and domestic violence
It is common in domestic violence situations for a perpetrator to threaten or even harm pets. As a result of this some women delay leaving a violent relationship out of fear for the safety of their pets. Many women’s refuges are unable to accommodate pets, but there are some temporary housing options for pets of people who have escaped domestic violence. One program is Safe Beds for Pets through the RSPCA.