GET HELP: Support workers encourage people to seek help as part of domestic violence awareness month.
GET HELP: Support workers encourage people to seek help as part of domestic violence awareness month.

Increased domestic violence cases amid COVID-19 restrictions

DOMESTIC violence cases have increased since isolation and coronavirus restrictions were introduced, putting strain on many families across the region.

Emerald Neighbourhood Centre Community Connect Coordinator Amanda McNamara said many issues at play included job loss, home schooling, lack of socialisation, financial stress and pure frustration.

"People have been isolated for a couple of months now which has caused strain for the family unit," she said.

"Unfortunately, I don't believe people are educated enough when it comes to the different types of domestic violence.

"I still see clients who think they are not experiencing domestic violence because their partner does not hit them."

While domestic violence includes physical abuse, it also includes verbal, emotional, financial, psychological and cultural abuse.

Domestic and family violence support worker for Emerald and surrounds, Chanell DeKlerk said she had seen a major drop in calls for help since coronavirus restrictions were implemented.

She has also received more than 20 referrals from police about local cases since Sunday.

"In these situations, people tend to go quiet about things that happen, they may feel it's better to keep quiet than to reach out," she said.

"But keeping quiet gives that situation the chance to escalate."

Ms DeKlerk said it was important to make the call and ask the questions to prevent situations from escalating and ending with physical violence.

"I like to say it's better to be safe than sorry," she said.

"Just ask the question so you know. It could nothing.

"A police officer would rather have a phone call and turn up to find a man screaming at the TV because his football team was losing than to turn up and it be a severe case of family violence."

Ms DeKlerk deals with cases in Emerald, Blackwater, Capella, Gemfields and surrounds, and said domestic violence was a big issue in the area.

She said it was important to raise community awareness as part of Domestic Violence Awareness month, held each May.

"If you or someone you know is experiencing some form of domestic violence, reach out," Ms DeKlerk said.

Seek help by calling CentacareCQ on 1300 523 985, Emerald Neighbourhood Centre on 49821696 or Domestic Violence Connect on 1800 811 811.