Rosie Batty as Australian of the Year started a serious debate in Australia on domestic violence. What a word! As if using ‘domestic’ somehow tames or contains the violence when it is in fact the worst of all, invading the private space of the individual. Most of us will have experience with domestic violence, either personally or through family or friends. It’s an unspoken violence as it is often hidden and denied by the perpetrator and victim. It’s a shameful violence because it involves the people we love and expect to care for us most of all. It’s also the most dangerous violence because of the attitudes that are perpetuated by the next generation.
Domestic violence isn’t just physical abuse, but can also be psychological, restricting independence, financial control, deprivation and neglect. Domestic violence is non-discriminatory across class, culture and age groups.
Phil Cleary, in The Age, October 3rd, 2015, wrote an excellent article pin-pointing the main issues in the way we talk about and deal with domestic violence in Australia. He talks about the band aid solutions that ignore the systemic problems in our society that cause the violence.
“It’s time to sweep aside the myth that our response to the violence has been gender neutral or that stopping the violent men in their tracks is nigh on impossible. As significant as it might sound coming from a PM* with a penchant for modern forms of communication, GPS tracking, 1800 respect lines and mobile phones won’t save women. Nor will counselling services for offenders. A man who wants to make a woman pay for her independence won’t be placated in an encounter group. The solution lies in a nexus between community legal and community health centres; frontline services where women can acquire case managers capable of ensuring and demanding decisive police and institutional support.”
“I know what *Turnbull meant in saying he wanted violence against women to be deemed un-Australian. But if only he’d stared down the barrel of the camera and said he wanted to make the violence so unlawful that every man walking such a path would do so at his peril. Only when politicians speak with the same fervour about this violence as they do about Islamic State and terrorists will we begin the process of real cultural change.”