More than bruises: recovery after violence hard to measure
VICTIMS of alcohol-fuelled violence do not always walk away with just bruises.
The emotional and mental scars, along with any permanent disabilities resulting in ongoing care, could last a lifetime.
Relationships Australia counsellor Peter Stojanovic said the shocking reality was that simple acts of violence not only could have tragic consequences, but unquantified ones as well.
He said it was an all-to-familiar scenario with those people who fall victim to alcohol-fuelled crimes.
"Very often the focus for victims of crime is the physical side of things," he said.
"People tend to overlook their emotional wellbeing.
"When a person becomes a victim of crime it triggers the 'fight or flight' emotion and that emotion can stay with a person for a lifetime after the event."
Mr Stojanovic said the age-old saying "sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me" could be no further from the truth.
He said emotional and mental trauma experienced through an act of violence needed to be managed correctly.
"You cannot leave it to evaporate over time," he said.
"You need to address it and acknowledge it.
"That person needs to seek the services of a professional who has the skills to help you along the journey."
Mr Stojanovic said unfortunately life for those who were victims of crime would never go back to the way it was before the event.
He said that was one of the biggest challenges a person would face in their rehabilitation.
"Support services are so important, if not more important, than the initial physical response provided by emergency services, hospitals and doctors," he said.
"People need to recognise the emotional impacts, not just the physical ones."
One punch rarely alone
Mr Stojanovic believes the notion of one person throwing one punch that changes their lives is simply wrong.
He said people who found themselves perpetrators in alcohol-fuelled acts of violence had probably thrown many punches in the past, but the last punch was generally the one when the long arm of the law finally caught up with them.
Mr Stojanovic, who has been a men's facilitator for nearly a decade, said people who were prone to acts of violence attempted to minimise, deny and blame others for their actions.
But he said they could not escape their responsibilities.
"There is more to it than just making someone attend a course or program," he said.
"People who commit acts of violence can manage their behaviour and beliefs a lot better when they do not drink, but when they drink the brakes go off.
"The notion that it is 'out of character' is simply a court-based defence smoke screen to cover their real behaviour.
"Nine times out of ten it is the outcome of a longer journey and not stand-alone events."
QLD VICTIM SERVICES
Relationships Australia - Phone: 1300 364 277 or visit http://www.raq.org.au
Queensland Law Society Victims Assist - Phone: 1300 546 587 or visit http://www.qls.com.au - under community section choose you and your solicitor then victim assist.
Queensland Government Victims Linkup - Phone: 1300 546 587 or visit http://www.qld.gov.au/law/crime-and-police/victims-and-witnesses-of-crime/support-for-victims-of-crime/
NSW VICTIM SERVICES
Relationships Australia - Phone: 1300 364 277 or visit http://www.nsw.relationships.com.au
Victims Access Line - Phone: 1800 633 063 or visit http://www.victimsservices.justice.nsw.gov.au