Domestic terrorism is a concept used by Rosie Batty, Australian of the Year 2015. Its effects on victims are similar to those of political terrorism.

Wear a white ribbon to show support
Wear a white ribbon to show support

Rosie Batty is herself a survivor of domestic terrorism. Eventually, her ex-partner battered their 11-year-old son, Luke, to death. He used a bat to kill Luke. They were at the child’s cricket training.

Rosie Batty is now a tireless and effective campaigner against domestic terrorism.

Rosie Batty, campaigner against domestic terrorism.
Rosie Batty, campaigner against domestic terrorism.

Domestic terrorism is more commonly called domestic violence. Or intimate partner violence. Or domestic abuse.  But children and elderly people can also be victims.

Political terrorists use violence (and threats of violence) to intimidate and coerce (mostly) random strangers. Acts of terrorism result in intense fear. Political terrorism is meant to induce submission of whole populations.

Abusive partners and ex-partners also commit acts of violence to induce terror. The purpose is to control their victims. Victims live in constant fear.

The appointment of Rosie Batty as Australian of the Year has prompted the government to take domestic violence seriously. But the statistics show there is a very long way to go.

Some horrific Australian domestic terrorism statistics

Not all victims are killed. Not all victims end up in hospitals. Not all victims are women.

Seventy eight victims of political terrorism would be an outrage. Are seventy-eight victims of domestic terrorism any less outrageous?

Facts about domestic terrorism

In a respectful and equal relationship, partners are free to state their opinions. They can make decisions, be themselves, and say no to sex.

In an abusive relationship, one partner dominates. They use criticism, demands, threats, sexual pressure and physical harm.  This behaviour is dangerous. It is frightening, confusing and damaging.

The the abuser controls and manipulates the other person.

Leaving an abusive relationship can be extremely difficult.

Take action against domestic terrorism

Everyone has a role in preventing domestic terrorism. We can

I swear domestic violence




6 replies on “Domestic terrorism action”

  1. Yes, Maureen, in an abusive relationship the abuser controls and manipulates the other person. It is horrible, the effects are horrendous. However … how complicit might I be, for instance, if someone has ‘control and power’ over me? Would this person be able to continue to have ‘control and power’ over me if I refused to remain in the state of victimhood?

    In any relationship – be it healthy or unhealthy – does it not take two to tango?

    I will wear a white ribbon tomorrow – but I hope it may empower those who need to reclaim ‘power and control’ over their own lives – even if that means accepting that we – all of us – can bring about change – that we are the only ones that can do so.

    Thank you for your post.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Elizabeth B, and the interesting suggestion that a victim of domestic violence could in some way be ‘complicit’ in the abuse. This suggests that victims ‘are asking’ for the abuse perpetrated against them. If a person is complicit, then we can blame them for the atrocious acts of another. Perpetrators of domestic terrorism groom their victims, then begin systematic abuse.

      One way a person might be able to escape abuse (and thus ‘refuse to remain tin the state of victim-hood’) is through leaving the relationship. But the statistics show that many ex-partners escalate violence for the very reason that their victims have dared to escape. Rosie Batty and Ann O’Neil are two such women. Their children were murdered because they managed to escape violent relationships.

  2. Great post that highlights this epidemic. There is always a power imbalance in a relationship, and some abuse that power for their own ends. Men and women, but mainly men (although in my family of origin, it was my mother who was the abuser, of her children and her husband). Although it might look easy to leave a relationship, it’s never simple and the psychology behind it is complex. As you say, the violence often escalates when the abused partner tries to leave the relationship, punishing them for wanting to leave so they won’t try it again. The abuser can also be very manipulative—saying they’ll lose their job if their partner goes to police, that they’ll suicide, or promising they’ll never do it again—anything to stop them leaving. There’s also the financial side and worries about the children not seeing their father/mother, etc.

    Then there’s their childhood, which, to be honest, I think is the single most important factor why people put up with abuse—they watched their own mother put up with it, or they were abused themselves and don’t feel they are worth any better.

    From the other perspective, I watched my mother abuse my brother as we grew up, damaging him physically and emotionally. I watched him then grow up and abuse almost all the women he became close to, and have a messy personal and professional life. You don’t have to be Freud to work out where that comes from … My husband and children have no time for him, and I understand their reactions completely. But on the other hand, I also saw what was done to him as a child, and I know the truth of: Hurt people hurt other people.

    It’s not as simple as judging a woman who won’t leave her abusive partner, or sending someone to do an anger management course. It goes much, much deeper than that. It’s not simple, and it’s not black and white. The older I get, the more I realise how much grey there is in life, and it’s not just in our hair …

    1. Thank you for your very considered response to my blog, Louise. I don’t think domestic terrorism, or family violence or whatever term we want to use, is a recent epidemic. No one talked about it when I was young, but people were battered and raped and damaged psychologically and spiritually in their families. Extended families, schools, the police and religious institutions turned a blind eye. They blamed the victims.

      ‘If you were a better wife, a good girl or boy, prayed harder, worked harder, didn’t upset him (or her) you would not be in so much trouble,’ was a sort of mantra. The police didn’t want to know. Or much worse, sided with the perpetrator with a wink and a nod – let’s be boys together.

      I’m very glad that this violence has become part of the mainstream agenda, rather than being hidden behind closed doors as it used to be. And that is almost a nonsense sentence, of course, because perpetrators and their victims still hide abuse. I’m looking forward to a time when we as a whole society can openly confront abuse in whatever form it takes. We need an enormous amount of courage to actually call a perpetrator, or even to tell someone we know (or suspect) that someone is abusing them.

      I agree with you that domestic violence and child abuse are closely linked. Elder abuse is the other end of the continuum. But we haven’t really started to have that conversation yet. Abuse in families is always heart-rending; it always affects everyone; kids suffer. Abuse becomes inter-generational and systemic in many families, as you have experienced in your family of origin, and with your brother. Somehow, we must break this cycle of violence.

      Thank you again for your comment.

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