The secret's out, Tweed women have a safe way out of violence
WHILE police statisticians have begun crunching the figures on the effectiveness of Safer Pathways, experts say the new program has revealed new insights into the impact of domestic violence on the Tweed.
Since June, monthly "action meetings" chaired by Tweed Byron LAC police, and co-ordinated by the Northern Rivers Women's Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service, have netted an extra 130 perpetrators per month.
The groups say that through their interaction with the region's schools, they have found exposure to the children involved was "far more worse" than first thought.
Co-ordinator Kellie Young said: "We've got traumatised children, and we know statistically that (they) are more likely to go into a relationship with either a perpetrator or a victim of domestic violence.
"We ensure that they're getting support at school; referrals to victims' services for free counselling and family support workers," she said.
The program was also netting more perpetrators of violence against pregnant women.
"We're capturing more woman at that point," Ms Young said.
"What we know is that frequently the first time women experience physical violence is when they're pregnant.
"Remembering domestic violence is about power and control and at that point they take it one step higher."
She said the information was unravelling long-held misconceptions about violence in the home.
"What's been long misunderstood is that perpetrators can be good fathers.
"If you abuse somebody's mother, then is that being a good father?
"It's not possible that we can put men up on pedestals for being abusers and good fathers ... it just doesn't work."
Tweed Police are impressed with Safer Pathways because all police and community services are mandated to respond to an allegation of domestic violence in the same way.
"Gone are the days of police interpretation or downplaying of a DV because everyone interprets information differently," Snr Const Keryn Chisholm said. "The secret's out."
But more resources are needed to continue the service, with Safer Pathways staff stating that resources have been stretched to service the "quadrupling" of cases now handled.
A permanent full-time domestic violence liaison officer has not been appointed and the Richmond LAC is feeding its cases into the Tweed's with zero funding.