Today I want to add my “whisper” to what will hopefully one day become a collective shout that will break the silence surrounding domestic and family violence.
At a young age, I can remember my mum and dad getting into verbal and physical altercations, escalated by anger and alcohol. This would normally finish with my mum, sister and I walking out and looking for a place to stay that night.
I remember one incident when dad came home drunk, I was asleep and he mistook me for someone else. He took a kitchen knife and tried to stab me with it, only to be apprehended by my brother-in-law.
Without alcohol, my dad was a quiet and soft-spoken man, but under the influence, he could become very angry and violent. It is probably why his drinking buddies nicknamed him “Jack the Ripper”.
Why am I telling you this? So you will understand that I have experienced (to an extent) domestic violence first hand. I understand how complicated the surrounding circumstances can be, and I also know how important it is to get out and get safe.
I consider any violence towards women and children by men as being completely inexcusable, even given the many layers of “reasons” I have heard over the years (anger, drugs, conditioning by upbringing or parents that its normal behaviour).
As equally inexcusable is violence by women towards men and children, albeit far less common. There simply is no excuse for this shameful crime that erodes the safety of too many families.
It is unacceptable that women aged 15 to 44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, motor accidents, war and malaria (stoptheviolencecampaign.org).
As human beings living in community, I think we all have a responsibility to each other to watch for signs of domestic violence, and ensure that the silencing of this issue doesn’t stand a chance.
Domestic and family violence is indiscriminate; it does not have a type and can range from physical, to financial and psychological abuse.
There should be no safe place of silence in our society for those perpetrators who are violent and abusive.
I am proud to report that in the last 40 years of my mum and dad’s life, I never saw them raise a hand or even their voice to each other. As well as that, my dad stopped drinking for the last 30 years of his life. This change happened only after my mum made the courageous choice to leave, a decision I can only applaud.
There is no doubt in my mind that a collective of men and women committed to ending the violence can and will make a difference. Let’s be proactive and courageous in taking a stand against domestic and family violence.
Change is possible.
Local contacts for support:
Police Force – Phone 000
Domestic Violence Line – Phone 1800 656 463
Victims Support Line – Phone 1800 633 063