“There’s no shame in being a victim.”
That’s the message from the Colac region’s top police officer Peter Seel to people affected by domestic violence.
Surf Coast Police Service Area Inspector Seel and Sergeant Jonathan Parish of Colac police are encouraging victims of domestic violence to contact police and know there is support available.
Insp Seel said police usually received an increase in domestic violence reports during the Christmas period, which he believed was due to an increase in alcohol consumption.
The Colac Otway local government area had 183 assault-related offences in the 12 months to September 2016.
“If you look at assaults for the Colac Otway LGA, I would suggest that a lot or most of those are family violence related,” Insp Seel said.
“We rely on neighbours, friends, relatives and the victims themselves to come forward and tell us about it so we can take the appropriate action,” he said.
Insp Seel said it was important victims knew there were support services available for them including financial, physiological and counselling for children.
“It’s not just about charging the person concerned, although that’s an important aspect of it; it’s important that they get the help they receive from us and from the various agencies we can refer them to,” he said.
“We can refer you to any of those services to help you to escape from that environment.”
Sgt Parish said there was no specific pattern for family violence incidents, and an increase in awareness of what classifies as domestic violence could boost reporting.
“They can happen at any time of the day or night,” he said.
“Police may not respond to any family violence related calls one day, then find they respond to four or five calls in an hour the following day.
“There are a lot of people out there unaware they are experiencing family violence because they don’t recognise all the behaviours associated with it.
“Controlling behaviour and intimidation is a classic example of this.
“Unfortunately this lack of awareness leads to under reporting, and for the victim unnecessary suffering.”
Sgt Parish encouraged people to contact police for their own safety and the welfare of others involved in the situation.
“If someone thinks they may be experiencing family violence or believes a family member or friend may be, they are strongly encouraged to call the police station and seek advice and guidance,” he said.
People experiencing domestic violence should call the national domestic family violence counselling service on 1800 RESPECT, 1800 737 732, and 000 in emergencies.