"Oh, you wouldn't do much of that around here."
This was said to Ann Jones on the very streets of Griffith, wearing her uniform as the Riverina Women's Domestic ViolenceCourt Advocacy Cervices co-ordinator.
Yet the complete opposite is true.
In September alone, Ms Jones has had 113 referrals from police for "at threat" women, and 14 for "at serious threat" from Griffith, Hay, Hillston, Lake Cargelligo and Leeton.
Since January she has received 1013 referrals, with 118 classified as serious. Of those, she has been able to support 261 women, affecting 252 children.
In Griffith specifically, the local court has one day put aside just for domestic violence matters as of the start of this year.
This happens in metropolitan areas, but rarely in regional areas. Neither Hay, Hillston, Leeton or Lake Cargelligo courts have days set aside.
In speaking out about domestic violence in our region, her goal is to highlight misconceptions held in the Griffith community and to change people's lives.
The all-too-common misconceptions she sees: that domestic violence isn't prevalent in our communities. That domestic violence is only physical. That the onus should be on women to leave. That an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order (ADVO) are "just pieces of paper".
"You can change your world with one phone call. And before you know it, you can see the changes," she said.
Riverina Women's Domestic ViolenceCourt Advocacy Services assists women and children who are or have been experiencing domestic violence to help achieve effective legal protection through applications for ADVOs.
The assistance is connected to other support services in the city, including financial assistance and advice, housing, counselling and family law issues.
"An ADVO is a powerful tool for a woman to have. She can make the conditions on the order to suit her personal situation," she explained.
"People says it's just a piece of paper, but it is a power piece of paper.
"The thing is making sure you use it by reporting breaches, and the courts take it very seriously."
The maximum penalty for a breach is $5500 and two years in custody.
In her nine years working with domestic violence victims and survivors in the Riverina region, Ms Jones has seen just about everything.
Working with these women and families, she said sometimes it's about 'selling' the services available.
"We give them the information in the Domestic Violence pack, then sometimes they realise they have been experiencing domestic violence.
"We've had people contact us six to eight weeks after our initial contact, wanting to do something about their situation."
A woman has choices, but no one knows what goes on behind closed doors. You cannot be the judge of someone else's personal experience.Ann Jones
Riverina Women's Domestic ViolenceCourt Advocacy Services receive referrals of all domestic and family violence reports made to NSW Police about women and children under Safer Pathway, a centralised referral point.
If consent is given, they assist in getting ADVOs by giving information, being an advocate in court, and helping connect to other services.
Those who do not give consent are not forgotten, with coordinated meetings with police, Family and Community Services, and other community groups to decide what support can be given.
More than physical
Despite many campaigns aiming to raise awareness, Ms Jones said she still sees misconceptions about what constitutes domestic violence.
"I had a lady explain her situation, and she said it wasn't domestic violence because he didn't hit her. Yet what he did were chargeable offences and he did end up charged."
People say the woman should leave, but there are many things at play for any individual which can hinder her decision - religion, culture, community to name a few.Ann Jones
People who touch you in a way you don't like, shout at you and call you names, break your things, hurts your kids or pets, stops you from seeing your family, friends and connections, can be charged.
More than isolated cases
Ms Jones said domestic violence happens in every single section of society.
"It happens in all demographics, all religions, every section of the community experiences domestic violence - right here in our own community.
"It can be generational, it's how they were brought up, both women and men, and the behaviour is seen as the norm. But then other clients, they've never been to court, have had no family members with similar experiences, and never had to get an AVO.
"It can be daunting, because they are unsure how to go about seeking help.
More than 'just leave'
"People say the woman should leave, but there are many things at play for any individual which can hinder her decision - religion, culture, community to name a few.
"But why should she pack up and leave her home? It's his problem, not hers. A woman has choices, but no one knows what goes on behind closed doors.
"You cannot be the judge on someone else's personal experience."
24/7 Domestic Violence assistance is available in Griffith for Crisis accommodation, and support through Links For Women - Women's' Refuge by calling 02 69643381.
Help is there
- Riverina Women's Domestic ViolenceCourt Advocacy Services: 1800 WDVCAS or 1800 938 227
- Victims services: 1800 633 063
- Victims services Aboriginal contact: 1800 019 123
- Domestic violence line, family and community services NSW: 1800 656 152
- Men's referral service: 1300 766 491
While you're with us, did you know that you can now receive updates straight to your inbox every Monday at 6am from The Area News? To make sure you're up to date with all the Griffith and MIA news you can sign up here