A vicious cycle of violence

Open wounds and bone fractures – these are the most common assault injuries women are likely to present with at Ballarat hospitals, a new report has revealed.

The figures, published by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, show the horrifying toll of violence against women and girls nationwide.

Almost 6300 women and girls were hospitalised because of assault in 2013-14, for a rate of 56 cases per 100,000 population.

Anna Grimes, family violence project co-ordinator at Ballarat Health Services, said the scourge was responsible for repeat presentations at hospital, which made it important for clinical staff to have the skills to respond accordingly.

“I am saddened but not surprised by the statistics outlined this week,” she said.

Anna Grimes.

Anna Grimes.

"Family violence doesn’t just cause physical harm, it also compromises a person’s health and well-being. We as a community need to listen to and believe victims and survivors.”

Researchers found that in cases where the place of the assault was recorded, "69 per cent of assaults against women and girls took place in the home".

The report revealed that a spouse or dometic partner accounted for 59 per cent of hospitalised assaults against women and girls.

Where the type of perpetrator was specified, the report showed that 195 assaults against females were perpetrated by parents. And in 726 cases the perpetrator was "other family members".

Open wounds accounted for 22 per cent (1400 cases) of female hospitalisations, fractures 22 per cent (1375) and superficial injuries such as cuts and bruises 19 per cent (1194), the report said.

Some assault victims are reluctant to reveal they have been assaulted, according to the paper.

"As a result, this probably underestimates the incidence of hospitalised assault," it said.

Ballarat-based WRISC Family Violence Support executive officer Libby Jewson said the latest figures were worrying.

“If there’s a positive out of this data, it’s that more women are feeling confident to report their injuries.”