Australian women based in regional, rural and remote locations experience longer periods of domestic violence than city women before accessing support services, a new study has found.
Ahead of White Ribbon Day, Flinders University lead researcher Professor Wendt studied the coping experiences of women from rural South Australia and Western Australia, alongside help-seeking behaviour.
Professor Wendt said many women who participated in the study didn’t see distance as a barrier to accessing services, instead relying on friends and relatives for support.
“Women from remote or regional share similar experiences to all women who face this issue, but they cope alone for long periods. Often a crisis is the catalyst for seeking help,” Professor Wendt said.
The study found strategies for seeking help were often influenced by their network of friends and family outside of the home, with differences in the way Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal women experienced domestic and family violence.
Aboriginal women mostly described having strong family networks and support, but most non-Aboriginal women had limited family networks so were more likely to seek support from friends and acquaintances.
In some cases the absence of informal networks means some women did not reach out for help at all.
Professor Wendt said domestic workers were often impacted by their geographical location.
“Domestic violence workers are often working in crisis mode due to limitations and lack of resources; preventative or other work is harder because of this. Workers felt the geographical isolation, rather than social isolation, negatively affected their wellbeing,” Professor Wendt says.
The study also found that men from regional, rural and remote locations who used violence in their intimate relationships were usually only offered a legal response.
White Ribbon Day will be marked across the country on November 25.
The National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service can be reached on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline can be reached on 13 11 14. If you are in crisis call 000.