OF all the crime statistics released for Orange every year perhaps the most concerning should be those for domestic violence.
Our city has one of the highest rates of domestic violence in the state, ranking 14th worst among 140 local government areas.
In human terms that amounted to 294 domestic violence assaults last year, and that is just the assaults police know about.
The hidden nature of domestic violence and the reluctance of women to report it means the true number is undoubtedly worse, but how much worse we just don’t know.
The only thing we can be certain of is that women are far more likely to be the victim of an assault in a domestic situation than any other crime of violence.
There were in fact over three times more domestic assaults than non-domestic assaults last year. If the numbers were reversed there would be an uproar as politicians and law enforcement officials scrambled to respond to violence which had clearly got out of control.
This is not to say a great deal of work is not being done to both reduce the incidence of domestic violence and convince victims to report it.
There has been a succession of public education campaigns urging women to come forward to get both legal protection and support and men to reject domestic violence and the silence which surrounds it.
Several of the major sporting codes have public education programs which use high profile athletes to try and reach men with the message that domestic violence has no place in a male culture where physical strength and sporting prowess are valued.
But still the statistics remain appallingly high and many women remain reluctant to report it.
Authorities know it is a crime which has no respect for postcodes, income brackets or ethnic backgrounds. They also know that secrecy and shame offer no protection to victims.