It may surprise you to know that domestic violence is alive and thriving on Sydney’s lower north shore.

During my studies at the Australian College of Applied Psychology I was privileged to be taught by some highly experienced and truly inspiring social workers, psychologists and counselors who shared not only their knowledge but their experiences in counselling.

One such lecturer had worked for many years as a caseworker and for five of these years on Sydney’s lower north shore at a service for victims of domestic violence.

She spoke about the fact that domestic violence was present at all level and in all areas of Sydney. Doctors, lawyers, ministers of religion, prominent public figures … domestic violence is not exclusive to the uneducated or to those living in less advantaged areas of Sydney. When one student suggested that surely it wasn’t as prevalent in more affluent areas she made us aware of a term none of us had ever heard of. Flat Boarding.

She went on to explain flat boarding was the tool of choice for those who wished to keep their abuse away from prying eyes. Instead of punching and kicking which left obvious bruising, these abuses used large flat objects such as a heavy book, frying pan, tool or other objects, which resulted in internal rather than external bruising … just as painful and damaging. In this way, the abuser could inflict injury without any obvious outward signs. You could have heard a pin drop in the room.

I’ve counselled women who are in domestic violence situations who have been particular in letting me know that “he’s never laid a hand on me” but violence does not have to involve physical violence. Domestic violence is a pattern of abuse used to control the behavior of another. It can be experienced as emotional, financial and psychological abuse.

While statistics show that many more women than men are victims, I’ve asked myself how many men would come forward and admit to violence by their partners. One wonders if the statistcs are not a true measure.

Domestic violence often starts with threats, name-calling, and slamming doors or breaking dishes, and it can build up to pushing, slapping, and other violent acts. If you are concerned about your relationship, ask yourself the following questions.

Does your partner:

  • Embarrass you with put-downs?
  • Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
  • Control what you do, who you see or talk to, or where you go?
  • Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?
  • Take your money or salary, make you ask for money, or refuse to give you money?
  • Make all of the decisions?
  • Tell you that you’re a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children?
  • Threaten to kill himself or herself?
  • Prevent you from going to work?
  • Act like the abuse is no big deal or it is your fault, or even deny doing it?
  • Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?
  • Intimidate you with knives, or other weapons?
  • Shove you, slap you, choke you, or hit you?
  • Threaten to kill you?

If you or someone you know are in need of immediate and urgent help to remove yourself from domestic violence there are several women’s refuges on the lower north shore and some excellent resources.

Women’s Refuges

Mary’s House, North Sydney

Delvena Women’s Refuge, Lane Cove


North Shore Domestic Violence