It’s been four days since my last post…unusual because I had been posting quite regularly. It’s just been a busy week with me doing something every night…three days were non-work related (fitness class, and two social nights — yes, I actually did socialise with live people!) and two days were work-related.
Anyway, on Thursday night, I had to attend an event as part of work which was on awareness of violence against women. It is run every year by the local council of the area I work in. One of the highlights for me was a woman who spoke about her own assault a year ago by a stranger. She did say though that she was one of the lucky ones, despite being bashed nearly to death, since she was able to speak out. She was not afraid because it was a stranger. And unfortunately, majority of the cases of violence against women in Australia are committed by someone we know.
This coupled with the fact that it’s Domestic Violence Awareness week made me decide to write a post on the same.
Domestic Violence, according to the Education Centre Against Violence and NSW Health
is when someone you are in a past or present relationship with:
– Assaults you physically or sexually and/or
– Abuses you verbally, emotionally or psychologically and/or
– Controls all the money and/or
– Stops you from seeing your family or friends
Domestic Violence is when one person in a relationship uses violence or abuse to cause fear and get control over the other person.
We are all taught about Stranger-Danger when we are young. But for some reason, very few of us are told about the dangers that occur within the four walls of one’s own house. And 70% of the crimes against women take place by someone who is known to them. I am ashamed to say that the first time I learnt about DV was in year 11. I think I was vaguely aware of women getting beaten based on what I saw on the telly but I never knew there was an actual term for it. Plus I led a pretty sheltered life. But, as it is said, better late than never.
Through my work with young people over the past two years, I have seen the harsh reality out there. I have seen that not everyone has a sheltered life. I have seen some individuals who have managed to escape and abusive home. But I see some that are stuck in it as well. Furthermore, I have learnt that socio-economic status does not matter. Cultural background does not matter. It’s just that some people are better at hiding what happens in the house than others. Apparently, in Sydney at least, there is a myth among the ‘elite’ suburbs that “this doesn’t happen in our area” — this was mentioned to me at a mandatory training about risk of harm. I was informed that schools in these suburbs believed there was no need for this training as the kids in those schools were from wealthy backgrounds and hence, abuse did not take place. Statistics say something different though.
Going on to the women that stay in an abusive relationship…there are several reasons behind it. Some include financial worries, worry about being a single parent, possible cultural issues and backlash from the family, rationalising the behaviour and even having mental health problems of their own or core beliefs that they deserve what is happening to them. This is the sad reality and I have witnessed it first hand. I have seen women that truly believe their husbands will change and refuse to move out of the situation despite a child being involved. And sometimes, there is nothing the authorities can do either when the woman holds such a belief.
DV has an impact on the children as well…whether or not they are being physically abused. The emotional scars remain. Some of these children go on to have depression or anxiety or PTSD or other mental health problems as a result of living in an insecure, controlling and violent environment. They may take to alcohol, smoking or drugs at an earlier age as a method of coping with the family situation. Some others may learn that this is the norm and use violence themselves to solve their problems.
So the next time you see a friend with a black eye who says she walked into the door, please listen further.
The next time you see a child with broken ribs who says he fell down the stairs, please listen further.
And most importantly, do something about it. Even if it is, calling the authorities or referring them to a professional that can assist further.
To the men out there, I know intimate partner abuse does occur and that men can be victims too. I’m not being sexist and I acknowledge that men are victims in a number of cases. It’s just that the number of women, is a lot more. I will make an effort to research on men being victims of partner violence and look into it in another post.
Until next time,