Apparently the key to stopping domestic violence is to "end the welfare trap', so broke folks can't breed with other broke folks.

I refer, of course, to Aussie newspaper columnist Miranda Devine, whose piece lambasting new PM Malcolm Turnbull for his $100 million campaign to combat domestic violence set the internet alight last week.

Useless, says Devine, when the cause of domestic violence is poverty, welfare dependency and "the desperate chaos of the underclass".

Pretty sure that's not it.


To Devine's credit, she did dig out a few figures: according to the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics, rates of intimate partner violence are higher in areas with lower household incomes. In the New Zealand stats, Maori and those from economically deprived areas are over-represented.

Surely then, only poor, brown people in council houses come home and beat their wives to a pulp?

Recent testimonies paint a different picture.

In the US, agencies reported an increase in spousal abuse since the 2008 recession, with more women from upscale communities seeking help.

In 2014, UK research found well-paid women were at a greater risk of violence -- with women earning more than 67 per cent of the household income seven times more likely to be abused.

And data from Women's Refuge New Zealand shows a quarter of women it assists are from households earning $100,000 a year.

But wealthy perpetrators can wriggle through the cracks. Their victims are less likely to report -- because, wrote US advocate Dr Susan Weitzman, they fear their friends won't believe them. The police won't take them seriously. Their partner will turn their community against them. Not to mention their charming, charismatic spouse will know all the right things to say to evade the authorities, and can hire the best legal representation.

We have seen time and time again that if one has enough cash and fame, the consequences appear negligible. Athletes can get just a few years' jail for killing their girlfriends. Multi-billionaires assault their wives in public, and the police response is minimal. TV stars break their partners' bones, then return to the public eye. And right now we have former politicians fighting for singer Chris Brown to get a visa waiver to perform in New Zealand, despite an extensive list of violence offences.


With justice like that, is there any wonder victims stay silent?

Given what we know now about violence and wealth, I don't think cutting welfare is the magic bullet.

Whether a family earns minimum wage or six figures, domestic violence is a community issue. If we tell ourselves it can't happen in our backyard, then people will continue to endure behind closed doors.

No matter the size of your neighbours' bank account, look out for them. You might just save a life.