Domestic Violence in South Asian Communities: Breaking the Silence

November 12, 2023

“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Domestic violence is a global crisis that knows no boundaries, affecting people of all backgrounds and walks of life. While it’s essential to acknowledge the prevalence of this issue across society, we must also recognize that it can manifest differently within South Asian communities. It’s a challenge that requires both cultural sensitivity and a strong collective effort to address. In this article, we shed light on domestic violence within South Asian communities, share some key statistics, and offer guidance on seeking help and support.

The Silent Struggle

Domestic violence is not bound by culture, religion, or ethnicity. It affects everyone. However, within South Asian communities, unique challenges exist. One significant barrier for South Asians is the conflict between cultural values and the urge to escape domestic violence. Many individuals in these communities face a dilemma – whether to speak out and risk alienation from their families and cultural circles or to endure the abuse in silence.

It’s vital to remember that domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of their cultural background. To overcome this challenge, it’s essential to dispel the stigma associated with seeking help and to promote harmony within the community.

Statistics Speak Louder

Statistics from the 2021-22 Personal Safety Survey (PSS) are eye-opening. In Australia, an estimated 20% of adults (3.8 million people) have reported experiencing physical and/or sexual family and domestic violence since the age of 15. This crisis takes various forms:

  • 11.3% (2.2 million) experienced violence from a partner (current or previous cohabiting).
  • 5.9% (1.1 million) experienced violence from a boyfriend, girlfriend, or date.
  • 7.0% (1.4 million) experienced violence from another family member.

In the 12 months before the survey, 1.5% of women experienced violence by any intimate partner, marking a decrease from 2.3% in 2016. Partner emotional abuse is also a significant concern. An estimated 19% of Australian adults (3.6 million people) have experienced emotional abuse by a partner since the age of 15.

Breaking the Silence and Seeking Help

Domestic violence survivors within South Asian communities face unique challenges, but they are not alone. Prominent leaders from various walks of life emphasize the importance of breaking the silence.

“Silence does not protect us. Silence allows violence to flourish.” – Malala Yousafzai

Moving past the silence is the first step towards a life free from domestic violence. We must encourage victims to reach out and seek help. It’s crucial to support them in understanding that they deserve to live without fear and violence.

Several organizations in Sydney are dedicated to assisting victims of domestic violence, including those from South Asian communities. Some of them include:

  1. White Ribbon Australia: This organization focuses on engaging men to become part of the solution against violence.
  2. 1800RESPECT: A national helpline for those affected by sexual assault, domestic or family violence.
  3. Relationships Australia: Providing support for relationships, including those affected by domestic violence.
  4. Crisis Support Services: Services such as Lifeline (13 11 14) offer 24/7 support for those in crisis.
  5. South Asian Women’s Community Centre (SAWCC): SAWCC, based in Sydney, is committed to promoting the well-being and empowerment of South Asian women and their families. They provide support and resources for women facing domestic violence, including crisis intervention, counseling, legal assistance, and referrals to relevant services.
  6. Australian Muslim Women’s Centre for Human Rights (AMWCHR): AMWCHR is an organization based in Victoria that specifically focuses on the rights and well-being of Muslim women. They offer support, counseling, and advocacy for those affected by domestic violence within the Muslim community.
  7. InTouch Multicultural Centre Against Family Violence: While not exclusively South Asian, InTouch is based in Victoria and offers support to culturally diverse communities experiencing family violence. They provide crisis accommodation, counseling, legal advice, and outreach services.
  8. Halo India: Halo India is a non-profit organization based in Melbourne that focuses on various social issues affecting the Indian community, including domestic violence. They offer counseling, workshops, and support to individuals and families facing abuse.
  9. Shakti Community Council: Shakti operates in multiple Australian cities and is dedicated to empowering immigrant and refugee women of South Asian origin. They provide support for domestic violence survivors, including safe housing, counseling, legal assistance, and advocacy.
  10. MensLine Australia: MensLine is a national telephone and online support service for Australian men. They provide counseling and emotional support to men experiencing domestic violence or relationship issues. Their trained professionals can offer advice and referrals to appropriate services.
  11. Menslink: Menslink, based in the Australian Capital Territory, is focused on supporting young men and their families. They offer a range of services, including counseling and mentoring, which can be especially beneficial for male victims of domestic violence.
  12. No to Violence: No to Violence is an organization that focuses on men’s behavior change programs and support services. They work to address the causes of family violence and support male victims and perpetrators seeking help.
  13. Relationships Australia: Relationships Australia provides relationship support services to individuals and families, including men affected by domestic violence. They offer counseling, group programs, and educational resources.
  14. Indians in Sydney: Join groups like “Indians in Sydney” on Facebook or other similar platforms to connect with a supportive community where you can share your experiences, seek advice, and find help.

Domestic violence is a universal issue, and it’s our collective responsibility to address it. Let us remember the words of Mahatma Gandhi: “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Together, we can break the silence, promote harmony, and create a world free from the shackles of domestic violence.

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