Domestic abuse cycle breakers


February 23, 2008 12:00am

POLICE say the state's tough Safe at Home laws have helped victims break out of the cycle of domestic abuse.

But community groups want more resources to support victims who leave abusive spouses.

The issue of domestic violence has been highlighted in recent weeks with charges laid against former AFL footballer Wayne Carey for assaulting a police officer in Miami, Florida, after smashing a glass on his girlfriend, Tasmanian Kate Neilson.

It was allegedly the third confrontation between Carey and Ms Neilson that police had been involved in.

Relationships Australia Tasmania chief executive officer Susan Holmes said it was often difficult for victims of domestic violence to leave abusive relationships.

She said sufferers of systematic abuse came to see it as acceptable behaviour and others simply had nowhere to turn.

"I think that can change if there is more support, if women have a better understanding of the impact on children and access to other support like housing and financial assistance," Ms Holmes said.

Last month, Justice Minister Steve Kons announced a review of the Safe at Home legislation, revealing that between June 2005 and December last year, more than 12,400 incidents of family violence were reported.

Ms Holmes hoped the review would result in more support for families affected by violence.

Safe at Home's Tasmania Police co-ordinator Sgt Debbie Williams said there was already a strong inter-agency approach to dealing with domestic violence.

She denied the legislation was heavy-handed, saying the pro-arrest and pro-charge policy, under which police pursue prosecution, had brought a once private crime into the open.

While the number of incidents reported had increased since Safe at Home was introduced, the number of deaths associated with family violence had fallen from seven between 2000 and 2003 to four in the years since.

Ms Williams said police were often dealing with second and third-generation abusers who themselves grew up in violent households.