Warning this post deals with domestic violence.
Update 25 November 2015: today is white ribbon day. It’s the day we pledge to stop violence against women. This year we’ve seen more than 1 woman per week is killed by an intimate partner. I resubmit this post in honour of the victims and the survivors of domestic violence.
ABCs documentary hitting home was broadcast over the last two nights. I watched tonight’s episode and was heartbroken by what I saw. As of tonight 78 women have been killed by domestic violence. We must band together as a society to stop this epidemic. Keep conversation going! To ask our government to please dedicate more funding to this matter, for refuges to shelter those in need, for lawyers in legal aid, for further training for our police to handle domestic violence, for an update to national education standards to teach this generation and those that follow that we must treat each other with nothing but respect, and for support for the people who perpetrate these heinous acts in an effort to ensure they don’t commit these offenses again.
I’ve been sitting on this post for a long time! Months in fact. Sitting and waiting and thinking about how to articulate my growing horror over the domestic violence epidemic we are witnessing worldwide. As of this morning 62 Australian women have been killed by a man who was known to them (be it a lover, husband, father, or ex). The average is 2 women per week are killed by a man known to them. Oh. My. God. What has become of this world?
Last week a young mother was brutally attacked by her ex partner. She died on Wednesday night due to her injuries and he has been charged with murder. I won’t detail the horrors she encountered – you can read them here. Yesterday morning a woman was shot at a McDonald’s by her estranged husband (before he turned the gun on himself), she died on the scene…They have 4 children – who now don’t have their mum or their dad. Both of these woman died within 1 hours drive of my house.
A few months ago some girlfriends and I were chatting about all things life. We were attempting to change the world after a few bottles of red. I was telling the girls about my views on the global epidemic domestic violence is. I kept saying I was blessed to not have experienced this in my life. One of my friends corrected me, “You’re not blessed. That’s normal. We must stop thinking people are blessed to not have domestic violence in their lives, this is normal. It’s what everyone deserves.” Truer words have not been spoken.
One of my friends corrected me, “You’re not blessed. That’s normal. We must stop thinking people are blessed to not have domestic violence in their lives, this is normal. It’s what everyone deserves.” Truer words have not been spoken.
Despite the lateness of the hour and the bottles of wine we’d consumed we didn’t have all the answers on how to solve this horror of human behaviour. I believe it must be a multi-faceted approach but first & foremost the victims are the priority.
More support for women to leave their abusive partners. Better legislation to protect them from violence and to punish the perpetrators.
In the case of Tara Brown who died last night she approached her local police station seeking advice on how to leave her abusive partner showing them threatening text messages he had sent her. They sent her away; they couldn’t help. The police officer who turned Tara away in is now under review due to Tara’s death has died. Before she died Tara had moved out from her partner and was trying to rebuild her life. But he found her and now he has killed her.
I remember the night I went to my local police station to find out what my options were because I was scared my ex-partner was going to harm me. He’d sent abusive texts and had verbally threatened me indicating he world physically harm me. He also destroyed items I owned in anger to upset me. The police officer I encountered that night was so lovely. I stood there bewildered, scared and angry (holy shit I was angry – how dare someone threaten me). I kept repeating to her, “This isn’t my life. I have a great job, friends and a family who loves me.” She responded with, “It isn’t meant to be anyone’s life. We see women from all walks of life in here with domestic violence issues”. She explained carefully what my options were: an apprehended domestic violence order (ADVO). I would apply through the police for this and then my ex would be served, there would be a hearing and if the judge found there was suitable evidence an order would be imposed. As a result my ex would have to obey the three order conditions always included:
- Assaulting, molesting, harassing, threatening or interfering with the Protected Person;
- Intimidating the Protected Person; and
- Stalking the Protected Person. Anyone in a domestic relationship with the Protected Person is also protected by these conditions. This may include your children.
She advised me it could take weeks for a hearing to occur and I knew he was moving out in a matter of days. Once he was gone I knew I would do anything to not see him again. I decided against this. I didn’t want to see him again. Truth be told I also felt these orders were for far more serious issues than mine.
Of course if my ex had have physically assaulted me then the police could’ve charged him with assault and remanded him in custody until someone bailed him out. After he was out though he could still legally approach me until the ADVO was in place. Not much protection is it? How much help is a piece of legally binding paper when you are in fear for your life? This is what victims of domestic violence face.
Rosie Batty (an amazing woman and the current Australian of the Year…You can read her story here) is determined to see domestic violence change in Australia. She’s an anti-domestic violence campaigner who overcame a great personal tragedy to bring domestic violence out from the shadows into the mainstream so it can be addressed. Her vision is that…
Together we will give victims a voice and demand our leaders act.
We will stand with the victims of family violence so that they are supported in the community and have a powerful voice in the corridors of power. That’s my mission – but I can’t do it alone.
Please stand beside me and every woman and child who experiences family violence.
I support Rosie Batty’s goals – one of which is to start teaching respectful relationships in kindergarten. Once we have provided support for the victims of domestic violence we must then provide support/rehabilitation for the men who commit the violence. I may not get likes for this belief but we must address their behaviour and attempt to shift their psyche in order to potentially stop them from abusing again.
We must also support the next generation of younger men and women so they know that violence is not the norm. It’s not acceptable. It doesn’t just happen. We have to create a ripple effect to change the view that domestic violence is a way of life…. That rape jokes and violence against women jokes are ok and funny (they’re not). It’s a major cultural shift to move beyond the frame of mind that what people do behind closed doors isn’t any of our business if they choose to ‘touch up’ ‘smack around’ their partner we shouldn’t get involved.
We must educate our children on appropriate behaviour. I’m not a parent and I’m terrified to expose children to the horrors of domestic violence so I can only imagine what parents think. Do you more often than not turn off the news or tell them not to worry about it if they see something that is awful. I’m not advocating that we should invite that horror into our homes. But don’t think domestic violence is something that happens to other people. Educate your children on how it’s never ok to hurt another person. Tell them when they ask why the lady on the news died; that someone hurt her and how that is evil and wrong, and you mustn’t ever do harm to others.
So I ask this of you: Don’t shy away from the topic of domestic violence, talk about it openly without humour (there’s nothing remotely funny about people harming each other), educate your loved ones about how it is never appropriate to harm another person, refrain from making domestic violence and rape jokes, and if you overhear one of your friends making fun of domestic violence educate them of the horrors of this epidemic. Talking about domestic violence in the open is the first step to addressing the epidemic.
Finally, if someone you know is a victim of domestic violence offer them help (even if you’re scared and it might be against your ‘better judgement’). Tell them you are there for them and if they need anything you’ll do what you can to assist. Tell them their live is worth more than the violence, that they are loved, and no matter what you are there to help. Don’t judge them for staying too long or going back; just be there. I believe support is vital in assisting women leaving domestic violence situations.
If you or someone you know needs help for domestic violence:
Never Alone – website featuring assistance information
Lifeline 13 11 14
Post Note: Since I drafted this post the Queensland Premier has vowed to fast-track laws offering greater protection for domestic violence victims. You can read the good news her