Family violence by the numbers
Warning: This article discusses rape and suicide and may be distressing for some readers.
The office of the Ombudsman released its first national inquiry last week, spotlighting the widespread shame of family violence.
In the commission survey of 1500 people, they found 87 percent of respondents had been subjected to yelling and harsh words, 86 percent had been kicked, punched, slapped or attacked using a hard object and 24 percent choked.
The repercussions of intimate partner violence, especially rape are immense.
According to the report, 33 percent of women who are raped contemplate suicide, while 13 percent actually attempt it.
Rape and resulting suicidal ideation is so prevalent in Samoa, the Commissioners were compelled to break this figure down further.
“When considered in conjunction with the statistic that, one in five women are raped by a non-family member and almost one in 10 by their intimate partner in their lifetime in Samoa, it leads to the startling conclusion that between 7 percent and 10 percent of women in Samoa may have considered suicide through rape within the family alone,” the report reads.
On the less extreme end, the Samoa Family Health and Safety Survey from 2000 found that abused women were 56 percent more likely to always feel tired, 46 percent more likely to experience nervous tension and 38 percent more likely to be unhappy.
The same survey analysed the children of abused women, and found they are 35 percent more likely to behave aggressively than children of women who were not abused.
They are also 54 percent more likely to leave school before graduating and 24 percent more likely to have nightmares.
The prevalence of abuse by an intimate partner in Samoa has been rising.
“According to the SFSS 2017, 60 percent of women aged 20-49, who had ever been in a relationship, had experienced some form of intimate partner violence, up from 46 percent in the SFHSS 2000.”
This not only impacts their health, but also their wealth and the economic impacts of family violence did not go unnoticed by the inquiry.
The report states that in a year, family violence costs Samoa between 6-7 percent of its gross domestic product, or $1,090 for every person 15 years or older: three months’ work on a minimum wage.
If you are worried you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, call Faataua Le Ola (FLO) 24 hour lifeline 8005433 to speak to a counsellor. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 911.
New Zealand suicide crisis helpline is 0508 828 865 (24/7),
Life Australia is 13 11 14 (24/7).