25 Jul Domestic violence: Former police officers teach family violence survivors new tricks
Domestic violence: Former police officers teach family violence survivors new tricks
Visit the Safer In The Home program page to learn more: SITH – The Salvation Army
These two self-described “crusty old ex-coppers” know a fair bit about managing risk and family violence.
They have scoured the houses and cars of frightened women for GPS trackers or hidden cameras, placed there secretly by abusive partners bent on following their every move.
They have beefed up security so that victims feel safe to live in their own homes.
New locks, security cameras and even secure internal rooms to offer a place of last resort.
And Stephen Wilson and Steven Schultze have accompanied family violence victims to court appearances all over the state, helping them through the bewildering process of applying for an intervention order.
The pair run Protective Services, Australia’s only risk-management and security company that specialises in helping family violence victims.
They get referrals from the Salvation Army Crossroads family violence service and the Safe Futures Foundation, a family violence organisation that specialises in high-risk clients.
About 80 per cent of the work that Wilson and Schultze do for the Salvation Army is pro bono.
They also get private approaches from people – almost exclusively women – who have been harassed by former partners.
Both men were police officers at Victoria Police and, between them, have experience in the vice squad, undercover work, criminal investigation and homicide.
For Schultze, some of the family violence homicide cases he worked on in the police have stayed with him.
“I’ve got four particular homicides that stick in my head, all killed by either their intimate partner, an ex or a parent. I can still picture their faces to this day,” Schultze says.
“Their experience with males has been terrible, and it might have been exacerbated by health professionals, by police.”
Gaining his client’s trust is the first step, he says, and he always works alongside a Salvation Army worker.
“Their (clients’)experience with males has been terrible and it might have been exacerbated by health professionals, by police.”
Men’s attitudes towards violence need to change, the pair say, but until they do their service has been successful in significantly reducing the number of intervention order breaches for their 200 clients.
On Thursday Schultze appeared before the Royal Commission into Family Violence as it looked at how the family violence sector assesses risk.
Like the rest of society, abusive men are increasingly using new and online technologies. Harassing or stalking victims via apps or social media has become tragically common, the commission was told.
Schultze told the hearing that technology could also help victims.
New “safety cards” – a personal safety alarm with GPS that alerts police instantly – and wearable safety watches, mean victims feel safer to go about their normal lives with 24-hour backup.
Schultze gives his clients training in how perpetrators use emotional manipulation and refers them for psychological or other support if they need it.
For help in a crisis call 000.
Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 737 732
Men’s Referral Service 1300 766 491
This article was written by Miki Perkins for The Age and original published on 25 July 2015.