Family violence increase linked to ice abuse

EXPERTS and victims have warned the scourge of ice addiction in regional areas is having a direct impact on the rise and severity of family violence.

Child and Family Services has recorded an increase in the number of cases where ice is involved.

CAFS Family Violence Intervention program co-ordinator Bob Maika said ice may not be the root cause of family violence incidents but it was increasingly reported and contributed to the severity of attacks.

“It certainly is present in a lot of the work we do. Certainly we are working with more men that are presenting with issues of ice abuse,” Mr Maika said.

“Ice is like any drug of dependence. While it is a complexity added to family violence, like alcohol and marijuana, it doesn’t cause the family the violence – but it is a contributing factor.” 

One Ballarat victim of domestic violence told The Courier the severity of one attack when her partner was under the influence of drugs turned him into a “deranged monster”. 

“He was completely out of control,” she said. 

“The brutality of that attack was on another level; that attack landed me in hospital begging for help.

“I knew that night if I didn’t accept what was happening, I would not see the next morning and, you see, I have four children to think of.”

She agreed the causes of domestic violence were complex but substance abuse made the behaviour less predictable, the attacks more severe and the damage on people’s lives even more enduring.

“You have domestic violence and that is bad enough but you add drugs and lives are going to be lost,” the woman said.

Mr Maika said when ice was involved in a family violence case, the offending heightened in severity.

“In terms of the violence, it contributes to the sort of violence that a man may use, he may have a propensity to be verbally violent,” he said.

“The severity of violence is increased through ice use. We have a zero tolerance of violence like every family violence service.”

He said the ice epidemic was sweeping the city similarly to the way heroin did in the late 1990s.

WRISC Family Violence Support said a significant increase in women presenting for support to the service had stated that alleged perpetrators were using ice. 

WRISC court workers Angela Hucker and Gayle Fulford said they had observed the impacts of ice resulted in more intense levels of physical, verbal and emotional violence. 

“This may result in a rise of breaches of Family Violence Intervention Orders as alleged perpetrators are not adhering to the conditions of the FVIO as specified by the courts,” Ms Fulford said.

david.jeans@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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