Beyond the Surface: The Dual Injustice of Unreported Family Violence

Unreported family violenceRecent statistics show 60 per cent of victim-survivors of domestic and family violence don’t go to police, and the experts we spoke to say that figure is likely much higher. Understanding why could help you better support a loved one experiencing domestic violence.



In the hidden corners of our world, behind closed doors, an insidious scourge silently thrives, transcending borders, cultures, and languages. It is the haunting spectre of family violence, an affliction that knows no discrimination, afflicting souls irrespective of gender, age, or social standing. This global epidemic casts a long, dark shadow, leaving in its wake a trail of shattered lives, fractured families, and communities scarred by the unspoken cycle of violence within.

From the bustling metropolises of Asia to the tranquil villages of Europe, family violence, in its various forms, remains a universal challenge, plaguing the human experience. It thrives beneath the surface, hidden behind facades of normalcy, perpetuating a cycle of fear, trauma, and despair. But as we embark on this exploration, we shall turn our gaze to the heart of Australia, where cultural traditions and societal norms conspire to obscure the true extent of this crisis. It is here, in the land down under, that we find ourselves on a mission to reveal the concealed truths of family violence, truths that resonate not only within this vast continent but echo around the world.

The Australian Landscape: A Complex Tapestry

Australia, a nation celebrated for its rich cultural diversity, weaves a complex tapestry of traditions and norms that often shroud family violence in silence. This mosaic comprises a myriad of immigrant communities, each with its unique blend of heritage and customs. Within these communities, a challenge arises as they sometimes operate under traditional laws that hold sway over the country’s legal framework. This intricate cultural conundrum becomes a barrier to reporting abuse, as victims grapple with the fear of ostracism or are compelled to seek resolutions within the tight-knit confines of their community, echoing age-old patterns followed by generations before them.

Adding to this complexity, perpetrators may exploit religious or cultural beliefs, deepening the isolation of victims and ensnaring them within an unending cycle of violence. In this multifaceted Australian context, the insidious grip of family violence is amplified, rendering the path to justice and support all the more elusive for those who suffer in silence.

A Hidden Crisis Beyond Current Reports

Within the troubling landscape of domestic and family violence in Australia, the figures themselves reverberate with sombre resonance, laying bare the profound severity of this issue. Each passing week, we bear witness to the heartbreaking loss of one woman’s life at the hands of partner violence, and the grim tally for the year 2022 stands at a devastating 56 lives lost to violence against women. Even more disconcerting, a distressing statistic emerges: two in every five Australians have experienced the chilling touch of physical or sexual violence, with a significant majority of these victims pointing to male perpetrators. These numbers, while alarming, merely scratch the surface of a crisis that lurks in the shadows, for national statistics, as revealing as they may be, offer only a partial glimpse. Tragically, many victims of domestic and family violence will never report their harrowing experiences, ensnared by fear, shame, or the complex web of barriers that conspire against their voices. This concealed reality paints a darker, more elusive portrait of suffering—a silent cry for our collective attention and resolute action.

The Concealed Truth:

While the statistics on domestic and family violence in Australia are deeply troubling, the most disconcerting reality is the thousands upon thousands of unreported cases that remain concealed. Yes, the national statistics lay bare a disturbing reality: one in five women and one in sixteen men have endured the harrowing ordeal of physical or sexual violence at the hands of a current or former partner. Nevertheless, these stark figures, while chilling in their own right, are but the tip of the iceberg. A vast chasm of unreported cases in the realm of domestic and family violence looms ominously beneath the surface, obscuring our comprehension of the issue. The causes underlying this underreporting are intricate and manifold, requiring meticulous examination.

Complex Under-reporting Factors:

This section will primarily delve into a particular factor intertwined with cultural and religious influences that often fuels the cloak of silence surrounding domestic and family violence. However, it’s essential to note that this is just one facet of a multifaceted issue, and various factors contribute to the underreporting of these incidents.

Fear of Retaliation: Victims often grapple with the spectre of retaliation should they dare to report the violence. This fear intensifies when the abuser holds familial ties or resides within a tightly woven community, amplifying the dread of reprisal.
Community Pressure: In close-knit communities, victims confront a unique form of pressure that discourages them from seeking assistance. The prospect of tarnishing the family’s reputation or facing ostracism from their closely-knit community casts a long shadow over their decision to speak out.
Cultural Norms: Embedded cultural norms and expectations form an imposing barrier to disclosure. Some victims are burdened with the belief that enduring abuse is their solemn duty, while others are hesitant to break away from long-standing traditions that normalize silence.
Lack of Awareness: A significant cohort of victims remains oblivious to available resources and support services, exacerbating their isolation. Language barriers and limited access to crucial information further entrench their seclusion.Religious Influence: In certain instances, religious convictions are cynically manipulated to rationalize abusive conduct, rendering victims feeling powerless in the face of violence. The interplay between faith and exploitation compounds the difficulties of those seeking help.

Faith and Culture: Embracing Love and Rejecting Violence

Neither religion nor any community group can authentically condone domestic violence. In fact, many religious texts and teachings explicitly reject such harmful behaviour. For instance, in Islam, it is stated that “Paradise lies at the feet of your mother,” emphasizing the utmost respect and care owed to women, particularly mothers. Likewise, in Christianity, the Bible exhorts, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” underscoring the importance of love and selflessness in marital relationships.

Even within diverse Asian communities, a popular proverb asserts that “A family united is unbreakable,” emphasizing harmony over discord, while in Arabic culture, the saying “A house with love in it has no locks” highlights the belief that a loving home should be free from harm. An African proverb: “A child who does not honour the mother will end up in the belly of a lion.” underscores the significance of showing reverence and gratitude to one’s mother, as failing to do so can lead to perilous consequences: These teachings and proverbs serve as compelling reminders that, at their core, religious and cultural values uphold the sanctity of familial bonds, imploring individuals to reject violence within the home and instead foster environments of love and respect.

Hence the individuals who conceal their actions behind religious or communal settings must confront a stark reality: their actions hold no moral or religious legitimacy. Such behaviour, often rooted in selfish motives, flagrantly disregards the principles of respect, compassion, and justice upheld by both religious and communal values.

Conclusion: Unearthing the Unreported

Australia stands at a crossroads, faced with the grim truth of unreported family violence. To address this crisis, we must abandon complacency with the reported cases and instead, kindle an insatiable curiosity for the unspoken stories; for within them, victims are doubly victimized – first by the violence itself and then by the travesty of justice through silence. It is incumbent upon us all, from community leaders to law enforcers, to look beyond the surface, to break the chains of fear and cultural barriers that restrain victims. Only by creating an environment where victims feel safe to share their truths can we hope to uncover the hidden facts and, in turn, gain a comprehensive understanding of this pervasive issue. It is not merely a societal duty, but a moral imperative to eradicate domestic and family violence, ensuring that no one suffers in silence, and that every voice, once silenced, is heard and empowered to speak for change.

Family violence must end, for within each victim lies a mother, daughter, or grandmother — a testament to the enduring strength and love of women. Those who perpetrate such acts hiding behind religious or traditional myths are not just perpetrators; they are cowards who use the religion to hide behind it and perpetrate cruelty instead of embracing compassion.

Women deserve flowers, not sticks; caring words, not swearing and bad-mouthing; a touch with love to soothe their cheeks, not a slap in their face; hugs and necklaces, not bullets; and the warmth of love, not the coldness of knives.


Unreported family violence