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The domestic violence no one talks about.

Domestic violence is a massive issue in Australia, but we don’t often think of teenagers as the perpetrators.

Like all mothers, Tina Broadby worries about her kids. But, unlike most, hers are not run-of-the-mill concerns.

She worries her son, Shane, will kill one of his sisters on a violent rampage.

It is a valid concern. Even Shane says it is a possibility.

domestic violence by teens
When asked if his anger is so bad he will kill one of his sisters, Shane responds, “Yeah, probably”. Image via ABC.

He is just one of the thousands of Australian teens terrorising their family members behind closed doors in their own homes.

According to the ABC’s 7.30 Report, up to 5,000 cases of adolescent-led family violence are reported to Victoria Police every year.

These out-of-control kids, unable to control their angry outbursts – which can be sparked by something as trivial as name-calling – are leaving their marks all over the family home and putting the lives of their family members at risk every day.

Shane illustrates how he punched this hole in the wall, one of many. Image via ABC.

The walls of the Broadby home tell the story of Shane’s violence. Unlike the bruises carried by his family members, these marks do not disappear.

Shane is able to explain how each hole and dent was caused. One by a wayward radio thrown by Shane and intended for his father. Others were caused by his fist. His knee. His slamming of the door.

The violence started when Shane was around eight years old, but escalated at age 12.

Shane says the worst thing he has done was fight his dad.

“I didn’t want to do it, but he got too close. I don’t like people coming too close,” he says.

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“I grabbed him and kneed him in the head.”

domestic violence by teens
Tina is worried Shane will kill one of his sisters. Image via ABC.

His sisters are terrified of Shane and his temper.

One sister, Sharlene, says he nearly suffocated her by pushing her head into a blanket. She says he hits their mother and punches her in the stomach.

But this hidden violence is going largely unreported as parents desperately try to protect their out-of-control kids by not calling police, despite the risk to themselves or their other children.

Data suggests the majority of adolescent perpetrators have been exposed to adult family violence, with up to 70 per cent of the teens involved experiencing violence from their fathers.

domestic violence by teens
Social worker Jo Howard says parents are reluctant to report violence inflicted by their children. Image via ABC.
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Kildonan Uniting Care social worker Jo Howard says parents aren’t reporting the violence because they feel “an incredible sense of shame”.

“They feel embarrassed that this is happening to them in their family,” she says.

“They feel concerned that if they speak about it they will be blamed, which frequently they are.”

Brooke Gowans says she has called the police eight times on her 15-year-old daughter, Ebony, because of her violent outbursts.

domestic violence by teens
Brooke and Ebony in happier times. Image via ABC.

“(The police) are wanting you to push charges and, as a mum, you sit there and go, ‘I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to ruin her future’,” she says.

Brooke says Ebony has abused her physically – pushing her into walls, pulling her hair, punching her in the jaw – as well as mentally.

She says things that you can’t erase from your mind,” Brooke says.

“Things like, ‘I hope you die. I’d like to see you die’.”

Despite the fact that around 1,700 Victorian families have taken court action to keep violent children away from the home, there are few services for families with violent children.

At the moment, both Shane and Ebony are living away from their family homes.

It’s the only way their family members feel safe.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home
For more on domestic violence, try these articles:

The life of another woman has been claimed by alleged domestic violence.

Domestic violence: Aboriginal women are 38 times more likely to be hospitalised.

Waleed Aly grills Malcolm Turnbull over domestic violence funding.

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