By the end of February this year, 14 women had been murdered in “domestic violence incidents”. There have been more since. That’s two a week. It’s also a number that has doubled for the same time last year. It’s an atrocious number. But it’s also not just a number. They are women. Mothers, daughters, sisters. Humans.
On February 26 I was honoured to be able to take part in The Nappy Collective‘s Blogger #DVForum. A number of bloggers were invited to participate, with the view to developing connections and conversations aimed at challenging “misinformed view points” (Rosie Batty). The forum was MC’d by Giaan Rooney, who did a fabulous job, and the discussion panel was Rosie Batty (Australian of the Year), Sandra Jacobs (The Nappy Collective) and Detective Superintendent, Rod Jouning (Head of Sexual and Family Violence Unit, Victoria Police). Richenda Vermeulen (nTegrity) then guided the blogger conversation.
We listened to these amazing speakers, and I’m pretty sure that we were all at times horrified, moved, amazed and fired up. As some of you know, prior to having children I worked for over a decade in Child Protection and with at risk children and families. The stories of domestic violence were not new to me. The climbing numbers outrage me. The continued victim blaming dismays me.
The question of a ’cause’ of domestic violence was raised. And Rosie Batty, and Det Supt Rod Jouning were both crystal clear in their responses. This is a gender issue. As Rosie Batty said, domestic violence is a choice. It is about power and control. Det Supt Jouning described it as men having a sense of entitlement to control women. “We have an ingrained culture of victim shaming. The responsibility is on us to change”.
It was acknowledged that people often, don’t know how to help. That those who have not experienced domestic violence do not know where to begin to help someone in this situation. Rosie talked about this, and about her experience. “One of the most disappointing responses is judging the victim” ie why doesn’t she leave? She spoke about how the well meaning advice from friends left her feeling judged and critiqued. Because it was all simple, straightforward advice. That doesn’t help someone who is in survival mode. Someone who is at greatest risk of harm when they decide to leave. Her advice – guide the woman to a Domestic Violence crisis line. They provide perfect advice, they understand the situation and are focused on safety. They do not judge. Rosie talked about us needing to believe women. To have compassion, to support and to empower women. That “we need to demand change. Let’s get feisty about it!”
Also present was Fiona McCormack, CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria. She was very clear also, about this being a gender issue. About the excuses that are made when men choose violence against their partners and children. That they ‘feel powerless’. This only serves to boost their sense of entitlement. She spoke about us needing to challenge sexism, and to have “zero tolerance to the reasons men choose violence”. To demand change.
There were several things I took away from this forum, but the main point I wanted to highlight today was the need to demand change. From our political leaders, from perpetrators and from the social norms that support, if not encourage, some men in their choice to use violence. With thanks to The Nappy Collective and ntegr!ty, there is now a bloggers collective, that I am proud to be part of, with a structured plan to take this conversation further. So stay tuned! This is an issue that I feel very passionate about. I am amazed I have an opportunity to be part of this collective, and a movement to change.
If you would like to do some more reading, check out the posts from some of the other bloggers who attended the forum: A Blog of Her Own, Seeing the Lighter Side of Parenting, Engaging Women, and The Mother Load are a few who have already started the conversation.
If you would like to join this conversation please do so! Let’s keep the conversation respectful and mindful that everyone has different experiences.
If you feel you need assistance in relation to any of the issues talked about here, please, contact any of the following:
Safe Steps: www.safesteps.org.au Manage crisis response and refers to state-wide refuges. 1800 015 188 (Toll free)
Domestic Violence Victoria www.dvvic.org.au
For immediate assistance contact 000