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Coercive control a major risk factor in Domestic Abuse deaths

Taken from article written by: Lottie Twyford for ABC News 3.3.24

In just over two decades, there were more than 130 domestic violence deaths in the ACT.

An in-depth analysis of 12 of these cases revealed coercive control had been at play in almost every case.

In 75 per cent of these instances – which covered not only murders but DV-related suicides as well – there had not been any physical violence before the death.

The report also found nine of the offenders and victims were from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

Those are households where domestic violence often goes unreported and even unrecognised, advocates say.

Creating safe spaces for multicultural women

A woman sits at the table
Shamaruh Mirza says it's important women from multicultural backgrounds have safe spaces to talk.(ABC News: Lottie Twyford)

Shamaruh Mirza co-founded SiTara's Story to give women from CALD backgrounds a place to discuss stigmatised topics such as domestic violence.

"It works with women, children and also men because we believe that we have to make the changes all together," Dr Mirza explained.

"It's not only educating the women but decoding the men."

She said many women who came to the workshops did not understand the different aspects of domestic violence beyond the physical elements.

Financial abuse, Dr Mirza said, could be hard for women to recognise, particularly if they had witnessed their own mother and grandmother treated in the same way and not allowed to open a bank account or have their own income.

She said weaponising a fear of deportation could also play a role.

"I have heard of incidents … [where] there is a fear of the wife not getting residency," she said.

"There is always a threat that if you go and report, you will be deported. Or, I will take the child and you will not get access."

Dr Mirza explained a lack of mobility including not having a drivers licence, not speaking English and being isolated from the broader community could also mean women didn't know where to go for support.

"We give them the support that you're safe here and you can talk about that," she said.

"It does help."

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