I have taken ages to write this article as it upsets me so much. In the past 4 months of this year 34 women in Australia have lost their lives to so-called “Domestic” Violence. For those of you who follow me on Facebook, I am constantly saying I hate this term. I believe it diminishes the crime and allows the Police and Court System to minimise the consequences.
Campaigners say domestic violence is at epidemic proportions and has reached the point where it is time to declare a national emergency.
Australia reputedly has the highest rate of Domestic Violence in the developed world. The blame is laid at the feet of a number of factors. Culture, a male sense of superiority and even religious upbringing can be some of the causes. One thing is certain, that being that it has a horrendous effect on family and society.
Studies show that half a million Australian women had experienced physical or sexual violence or sexual assault in the past 12 months. More than a million women had experienced physical or sexual assault by their male current or ex-partner since the age of 15.
64% of women who experienced physical assault and 81.1% of women who experienced sexual assault still did not report it to police. The proportion of women aged between 18 and 34 who reported experiencing physical violence has decreased but the proportion of women who reported experiencing physical violence after 45 increased over the same period.
The most revealing fact however is that it is now estimated that two women each week will die as a result of domestic violence. It is also estimated that 40% of police work is related to domestic violence. The cost in human life is a tragedy of momentous proportion.
Domestic violence is the leading cause of death and injury in women under 45, with more than one woman murdered by her current or former partner every week.
There are young victims too, with more than one million children affected by domestic violence.
Accounting for 40 per cent of police time, the cost to the economy is $13.6 billion per year.
I have reposted every White Ribbon article and supported every event held across the world to highlight this gross issue. I have watched Q&A and any other program doing a report on the issue. I have read every article that bemoans our Government on the one hand highlighting this issue as a cause for major concern, while on the other, cutting major funding initiatives that support victims such as victim’s refuges, cheaper public housing and legal aid. All are valuable programs and they should be given more funding. I have read every article calling for more education in our schools and the workplace.
There have been Candlelight Vigils and consistent media attention. Hardly a night goes by when an incident doesn’t make the news. Each year the figures get worse.
Fundamentally they have all left me slightly bemused. My first questions are:
Why do Men need to be educated to not physically and mentally abuse their families??
Why do Women need to be taught enough Self Esteem to not put up with it???
As I read all the other articles about rape in war, young girls and women being taken as sex slaves in Africa, women all around the Globe being denied equal wages and rights, I am sure that the fundamental root of this evil is in society’s lack of value for women in general. We have mayors of a town actually stating that women shouldn’t ever go out alone at night and numerous men’s sites saying that women are the main cause of domestic violence because we nag, or demand or don’t come across with goods. These sites maintain that men are also the victims of ‘emotional’ abuse in the homes. However the majority of violence against men is committed by other men. Of men who reported that they had experienced physical violence in the 12 months before the survey, 73.7% said that the perpetrator was a male.
In 2015 have we really come that far since the cavemen days when women were just chattels and something to be dragged off to the cave to relieve men’s bodily functions? Have some men really not evolved at all?
I am a great believer in trying to come up with solutions rather than just complaining. While I would never advocate that Women ever deserve to be victims of violence, we make up over half of the society that is producing this awful bane on society, so we must be contributing to it in some way. We are the bearers and main nurturers of both the potential victims and the perpetrators. Rather than just saying it is a man’s problem, we need to look at what women need to do to fix this problem as well. These are just some ideas and I would love to hear yours.
1. Ensure that you constantly reinforce in male children ‘respect’ for women both in what you say and do.
2. Don’t spoil boys by doing their ironing and cooking. Don’t reinforce the stereotype of male chores vs female chores. Make sure they take on all tasks in the house from an early age regardless of gender.
3. Lead by example by refusing to allow either your son or their father or any influential male to verbally abuse you and speak to you without respect. Children are sponges and they learn more from what you do than what you say.
4. Stop letting children play violent games or watch violent movies. This has to be contributing to the increase in violence in general because it is constantly reinforcing that people don’t really die or get badly injured by violence. They simply don’t understand that one punch can kill when they constantly see people getting up from massive fights without major injuries.
5. Crack down on the first sign of any violent behaviour with severe restrictions. No matter how much you love them DO NOT excuse it with the old saying boys will be boys.
6. Ban any Fairy tale from the house that reinforces the age old Prince Charming myth. Give all of your children new heroes that show women are equally fierce. This puts girls under pressure to want one and boys under pressure to be one. Even the more modern Fairy Tales and cartoons, still portray the heroine as “beautiful’ with an hour glass figure and perfect Cheekbones. Mother’s should be encouraging all young women and men to have posters of “Bella” from Pitch Perfect on their walls as a marvellous heroine who loves herself no matter what.
7. NEVER buy your female children a toy iron or vacuum cleaner . STOP reinforcing STEREOTYPES. Bring you females up to believe than can BE anything they want and where possible set an example. It is OK to want children, love etc. but NEVER at the cost of at least some independence both emotionally and financially.
8. Being a mother and a wife DOES not mean you come last and are less important than the rest of the family. If you constantly put that message out into the world by complete self-sacrifice, then men in particular will believe it applies to ALL women. You are NOT doing your SONS future partners any favours. If you don’t believe you matter then no one else will either.
1. STOP saying you want to marry some rich when you grow up and start looking for how to be rich yourself when you grow up.
2. Know that Love is wonderful but it is NEVER enough on its own and NEVER worth giving up your soul for.
3. Set your own goals in life independent of anyone else.
4. STOP worrying so much about what you look like and start worrying how WHO you can be.
5. STOP hero worshipping men based on what they look like or their celebrity status. Screaming like idiots over the Justin Beiber’s of the world does the female image no favours.
6. STOP parading the MEAN girls as the thing to be and start supporting all of the girls around you.
1. But “I Love Him” is not a reason to stay. As a victim of violence myself, this was my contribution to what happened. While it wasn’t my fault and I certainly didn’t deserve it, this was my excuse for putting myself in harm’s way and staying way beyond what my instincts were telling me.
2. If at all possible, NEVER allow yourself to be completely dependent on ANYONE. Physiological studies show that most humans will begin to exert power tendencies when another becomes completely dependent and think less of that individual. Again in my position this was a mistake I made. For the first time in my life I became almost completely financially dependent on this person and it was demeaning to me and made me except worse behaviour than I would have normally ever tolerated.
3. Always keep a Yours, Mine and Ours accounts. No one goes into marriage and having kids thinking they will fail but be realistic, 75% of them do and no matter how much “in Love” you are, any man can turn into an arsehole when that love goes bye-byes and statistics show that they usually do. PRINCE CHARMING DOESN’T EXIST. It is just as much pressure on the guy as it is for you to believe it.
1. Think of that $13.6 BILLION dollars this is costing you and put that money towards
a. MORE Affordable Housing for Single Mothers
b. MORE funding for refuges for Victims
c. MORE funding support for all the charities that look after the victims.
d. MORE Education Programs.
2. STOP allowing the legal system to call this DOMESTIC violence. Call it was it is. Grievous bodily harm. Hurting someone because she is your wife should hold more value than hurting anyone else.
These are just some ideas to show some positivity against such overwhelming and depressing statistics. I also don’t want us to hate and mistrust men because of this issue. I totally believe there are good men out there who would NEVER hurt a woman or their children and we need them completely onside to also influence their sons and daughters and the men around them.
Sometimes I think we need a return to the suffragette days and we need a Global Strike day to show the entire world that it would actually stop without us and we need to start valuing ourselves MORE.