Why family violence is not reported: MSF study
In January, the Ministry of Social and Family Development did a family violence study.
Over face-to-face interviews, 2,000 people were asked for their thoughts on barriers to reporting family violence cases.
Here are some of the barriers cited.
About four in 10, , of those surveyed saw family violence as a private matter.
And professionals can reach out to a family in need only if someone sounds the alarm, said Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin.
Quoting expert advice from a New York Times report on viewing family violence as a private matter, he said: "Violence is not a private matter and is not acceptable.
"Others who may not be brave enough to intervene may be hoping that the next person or someone else would get involved and report it.
"Do not assume that another person would step in to help. Let that person be you."
In some cases, a whistleblower can potentially save someone's life, said Pave executive director Sudha Nair.
FEAR OF BREAK-UP
More than half of those surveyed were afraid of breaking up a family.
Contrary to popular belief, Dr Nair said reporting a case of family violence can help salvage strained family ties.
And most of the people who go to Pave for help do not end up in divorces, she added.
"People have this idea that I don't want to intervene because it's going to break up the family. But they don't realise that by intervening, you're saving the families because you're stopping the violence.
"You're allowing for the perpetrator to get help. You're providing help for the survivors. And you're breaking the cycle for the children."
Almost 37 per cent said they were unsure what family violence constituted. They saw family violence more readily as physical violence, fights and quarrels.
"The survey results tell us that a lot of the time, people don't know what to do, and as Minister says, the definition of violence is very narrow," said Dr Nair.
"I think one of the things is to tell them about the types of violence and that violence is not merely physical.
"Sometimes, emotional violence is even worse, like wrongly confining somebody, continuously putting them down, using vulgarities and just instilling fear. You just have to sharpen a knife, and that instils fear."
One of the lesser-known types of elder abuse, for instance, is financial abuse, Ms Yee-Chow Choy Yin pointed out.
The Trans Family Services' chief executive officer said: "It's often masked by giving and love for the children.
"We have cases where the elderly may overindulge their children, thinking that they would have a good life with the children after they retire. So they open joint accounts, sell the flat when their children ask them to.
"But the danger in some cases is that the reality is different. The elderly may then be homeless, and all the money may be taken away without them knowing."
By the Numbers
Number of personal protection order applications:
3,147 - 2013
2,951 - 2014
2,885 - 2015
Number of abuse cases:
343 - 2013
381 - 2014
551 - 2015
If you or someone you know is experiencing family violence, you can contact:
Family Violence Specialist Centres
Pave 6555 0390
Trans Safe Centre 6449 9088
Care Corner Project Start 6476 1482
Child Protection Specialist Centres
Big Love 6445 0400
Heart @ Fei Yue 6819 9170
ComCare 1800 222 0000