We are fixated on fatal violence against women. Time and again, we talk amongst ourselves about the horror of one woman each week, dying at the hands of a partner of former partner.
This week, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) revealed another facet of family and domestic violence. It's not as sensational. We won't hear that the victims were good mothers and beloved sisters. Those women will go back to being good mothers and beloved sisters, adored daughters.
We won't hear their stories because broken bones and black eyes don't grip the national consciousness in the way that violent deaths do. There are no scenes of blood and gore.
But here are their other terrible stories, 4600 of them; 4600 women over 15 were hospitalised in the year ending June 2017, because of injuries sustained as a result of family and domestic violence, injuries inflicted by a spouse, domestic partner, parent or other family member. That's nearly 13 women a day; one every two hours.
AIHW's group head of community services, Louise York, tells me some injuries don't even get counted. These are the women who arrive at the emergency department of your local hospital. They may be terribly injured but they don't stay in hospital. They may not even reveal that the person who hurt them is meant to be someone who loves them. And then they go back home again. They don't count.
All the statistics tell us that the problem of violence against women is not abating. The number of sexual assaults recorded by police, the numbers of those recorded who are homeless, the number of hospitalisations continue to rise.
Across both groups, we don't know how bad those injuries were, how long it took to recover, how long those women had to take off work or if they ever got back to work. We do know this though - that according to a report prepared for the Department of Social Services by KPMG in 2016, the total cost of violence against women and their children could be estimated to be as high as $26 billion.
But all the statistics tell us that the problem of violence against women is not abating. The number of sexual assaults recorded by police, the numbers of those recorded who are homeless, the number of hospitalisations continue to rise. Between 2003 and 2017, the number of assault hospitalisations of women where the perpetrator was a spouse or partner rose by nearly a third, to about 38 women per 100,000. The number of men remained static.
Why were those women hospitalised? The details are shocking: head and neck injuries accounted for nearly two-thirds of the hospitalised women, 248 women experienced brain injury. Brain injury. Think of the force required to sustain brain injury. And what about the men? 27 men were hospitalised for brain injury.
The only possible good news about these figures is that there is a chance the increases are just reflecting reality. Even ten years ago, women were too frightened, embarrassed, humiliated, to come forward. Increased efforts by organisations such as Our Watch and all the state and territory peak domestic violence bodies have made it more possible for women to come forward and to feel as if it is possible to get help.
Louise York of AIHW looks at the figures and wonders.
"Does it mean that the people who are [treating patients] are becoming more aware of the violence and are therefore more likely to record it? Or perhaps it's a combination of that awareness - and that drivers of violence are accelerating?"
The story of injuries is also a part of a continuing narrative. We know if a woman has been subject to non-fatal strangulation, she is eight times more likely to end up dead. And we have too many dead. Between July 2014 and June 2016, there were 198 incidents of what the AIHW calls domestic homicide incidents; and of those, 75 per cent were perpetrated by men.
We know about the victims of fatal violence. We don't know nearly enough about the perpetrators. And the epidemic won't stop until we do.
As Patricia Cullen, research fellow at the School of Public Health at the University of NSW, who is leading a case review of the national coronial information system on family and intimate partner homicide, says: "We don't have enough data in terms of their health needs as well as the preceding factors.
Until we get this, there is very little way we can intervene to provide support women, perpetrators and families."
We honour the victims. But we must know more about who kills them.
Domestic violence advice and help is available, call 1800 RESPECT or the DV Hotline, 1800 65 64 63.
- Jenna Price is an academic at the University of Technology Sydney.