I experienced partner violence in my late 20s. I had extensive bruising on my wrists and up my back where he threw me into the door jam. I had to call into work sick for two days because I was concerned someone would notice the bruising.
Not once did I try to discuss what had happened or even consider ending the relationship myself. I felt responsible for the abuse and I thought I deserved it, because lets face it, I can be a real bitch sometimes, right?
The relationship ended within a week of it happening. Not by me though, by him. I begged him to stay. Why did I think what had happened was okay when I knew it was wrong? I was that woman.
The incident and relationship ending triggered a lot of unhealthy emotional baggage about what I did and didn’t deserve when it came to men and relationships. It took time but I worked through it. I am very happy to say that I am now married to the best man I have ever known, and I deserve his respect and love.
I’m a smart, well-liked, educated person. At the time I was abused, I was at the top of my game career-wise, kicking goals all over the shop. This shit happens to everyone.
The facts on partner violence
Violence in our community is endemic.
One in six Australian women and one in 19 Australian men will experience physical or sexual abuse from a current or ex-partner. The statistics for indigenous women are even worse – they are 35 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family or domestic violence than any other Australian woman.
This is a bleak statistic no matter how you look it, however the overwhelming incidence of violence against women and overrepresentation of the abuser being male, makes family and domestic violence a gendered issue.
Furthermore violence against women is largely committed within their home, with 61 per cent of these women having children in their care at the time that violence happens, and 48 per cent of these kids witnessing the violence. In comparison, the incidence of violence against men is largely committed outside of the home and typically by someone they don’t know.
Sadly, it gets worse. Since 2008, on average one woman each week has died by an act of violence. In 2015 alone, 79 women were killed in Australia through acts of violence. Overwhelmingly, the murderer was their current or former partner.
I tried to find statistics relating to the number of children murdered through family violence but could not find a total. I can only conclude it is such a sad and devastating statistic it is not widely publicised.
2016 is shaping up to be another tragic year. In the media alone, we are aware of three children who have been murdered by family members. And according to Destroy the Joint, three women have been killed through acts of violence.
What is the government doing?
Government is responding – I think Rosie Batty and her courageous, honest and elegant work is largely responsible for this momentum.
I also think we are all sick of it. We are sick and tired of seeing women and children in our community hurt and killed. Remember this day in September 2015, definitely not one of our finest:
It’s a sad fact that due to the nature of the policy cycle and the lag that happens between gathering evidence and action means that more women and children will be hurt, and more will die. Over the last 12 months governments have responded with action that includes:
- The Federal Government’s $100 million safety package to help prevent violence for women and children in high-risk situations. The package focuses on bolstering front line services and technology to help those experiencing the violence as well as educational resources to facilitate attitudinal change.
- In the first half of this year, we are expecting the Commonwealth of Australian Governments (COAG) Advisory Panel on Reducing Violence Against Women and Children’s final report. The purpose of the report being to inform future investment and action at the national and state level.
- In response to the Not Now, Not Ever report delivered by the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland in 2015, the Queensland Government has responded by committing to implement and support all of the Taskforce’s 140 recommendations, including changes to the law, trialling specific domestic violence courts, and investment in education and frontline services.
- In Victoria there is a Royal Commission into Family Violence underway. Their report is due on 29 March 2016.
What you can do
It sounds cheesy but change starts with you. Being passive and tolerating the undercurrent of sexism in our society will only see the problem continue. Speak up if you hear someone say something sexist, if it is safe for you to do so. If you are confused about what is and isn’t sexist, this Robot Hugscartoon is epic at explaining it.
If you see media reporting sympathetically about family or domestic violence, as was the case recently when a father murdered his two sons in Port Lincoln, contact the media outlet and voice your disgust. Let them know you don’t care how respected he was in the business community, he murdered his kids and that’s how it should be reported – murder.
Watch this video. Then get your partner to watch it, and then your kids if you have them, and your friends. Talk about violence with your kids and explain to them why it’s not on – ever. Let your kids know they can trust you and talk to you about violence.
If you think someone is being abused a good starting point is to call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) and seek advice on how you might be able to support the person you are concerned about. Getting involved is a difficult decision.
Don’t forget that you have the power to help, to make a difference and change attitudes.
How do you think we can #StopTheViolence ?
*All efforts have been made to report accurate figures. Those reported are true and correct as of 28 January 2016.