Why we can't roll our eyes at family violence any more
ACCORDING to the statistics being re-trumpeted by the media and spokespeople since Rosie Batty won Australian of the Year, women who live with domestic violence will be reading this.
So will women who don't. And men.
Those who can't comprehend what it's like to be in a relationship dominated by fear, and others who know nothing else.
Whatever 'category' you find yourself in, the words 'domestic violence' can't continue to be eye-rolled away any longer.
Nor can it be something you think is your problem alone.
Remember Opposition Leader Alexander Downer's attempt at humour when they were trying to highlight the issue? "The Things that Batter!"
That was 1994, more than 20 years ago.
The only thing that has changed since that questionable attempt to highlight the problem is that it's become much worse.
Elevating what is now openly being referred to as an epidemic or scourge on our society to be part of the nation's agenda is a long overdue move in the right direction.
Yes it will be a difficult thing to address initially, like all taboos, but the more it is discussed and more accessible help becomes, the less stigmatising and invisible the topic will be.
But it's a complex problem that needs addressing on a number of levels.
That old chestnut of telling a woman (I'll say woman because they are overwhelmingly the most affected by domestic violence) to get out of a violent relationship isn't going to wash any more.
It implies she has to do something about it as it's her problem alone, and if she stays, she's the idiot victim who can't help herself (just a summary of the consensus from a lot of online commentators on the subject to
illustrate just how far we have to go).
No consideration is given to her financial situation, children involved, feelings of fear, embarrassment, the fact she has never known anything else and genuinely believes he loves her and she him, and as confusing as that may sound, that's just for starters.
Rather than putting the pressure on the already broken woman, how about calling her partner's temper into question or find out whether there's some counselling out there for men who have control issues? There are two people to help here.
Violence really knows no boundaries. It's not all as clear cut as a fist to the face or a head shoved through a wall.
It can range from a bloodbath to intimidation and unrealistic expectations, from being made to feel worthless to withholding finances. It's all about controlling someone else.
Throw children into the mix and the situation escalates to a whole new level of future devastation.
Often it's hard for people caught up in domestic violence situations to reach out.
MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
When society does nothing it sends a message that any of those behaviours are acceptable, not just in the privacy of your own home, but it also perpetuates that entitlement out on the street, a whole new scale of ugly as we pass the 19th anniversary of the torture and murder of Anita Cobby by a pack of five men (I use that last term loosely).
Unless all of us, female and male, make it our business to get involved by talking about it and speaking up when we see something that isn't right, whether they are strangers or friends, we will continue to hear that one in three women are affected by domestic violence, one in five sexual violence (15yrs and up) and one in seven family violence.
That one woman killed each week by a current or former partner is getting closer to two now. And these are just the cases that are reported.
If you need assistance or advice phone freecall 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732).
This is a 24 hour, National Sexual Assault, Family & Domestic Violence Counselling Line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
In an emergency situation phone 000 and ask for the police or ambulance.