Domestic-violence

Why I Victim-Blame My Mother

Why doesn’t she just leave him? 

September 8, 2016

Being Raped Changed Me Forever

“Twenty minutes of action” has haunted me every day for 20 years.

June 22, 2016

What I Learned When I Was Homeless

Home isn’t an address, it’s a moment.

Moving On From Domestic Violence

I dream of a world without suffering.

May 2, 2016

Siri Is Now Programmed To Assist You If You’ve Been Raped

Although the question begs, why hasn’t this been the case all along?

April 5, 2016

Why I Gave Up My Best Friend For My Boyfriend

When they fought over me, he won — and I lost.

April 5, 2016

Unpopular Opinion: Men’s Shelters Don’t Make Sense

Because it all comes down to the numbers.

March 23, 2016

Why I Stayed With My Physically Abusive Husband

He convinced me that I was worthless.

February 25, 2016

Why I Kept My Friend’s Abusive Husband’s Secret For 20 Years

I knew something was wrong, but I walked away.

January 12, 2016

Why I Don’t Agree With Banning Chris Brown From Australia

Banning Chris Brown may have made a statement, but is it the right one?

September 28, 2015

Feminism Myths Debunked: Why The F-Word Is Not A Crime

“It is really funny how even cool chicks are sort of like: ‘Our mums covered that feminism thing and now we’re living in a post-that world’ when that just isn’t true.” – US actor, author, screenwriter, producer and director Lena Dunham, 29.

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among younger women I’ve met of late – some of whom are powerful businesswomen in their early 30s – they don’t want to call themselves “feminists”. In fact, the F-word makes them positively aghast and nervous – they don’t understand what feminism is, nor do they care to learn.

RELATED: Why Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word

Well, I’m here to tell you: feminism is powerful and important and women owe it to themselves and their forebears to educate themselves on what it means and why it’s so vital for both ourselves and future generations.

Now, there are many different forms of feminism and you only have to witness the ugly in-fighting that sometimes occurs on social media between popular feminist leaders in the Australian media to see there’s no “one size fits all category” on what constitutes a feminist. However, most feminists would surely agree that the basis of the movement is as simple as this: “people who believe in equality”.

Do you believe in equal pay for men and women? Do you think women should have equal political, social, sexual and property rights and opportunities to men? Well, sorry to tell you lady: you’re – gasp – a feminist.

That’s right: being a feminist doesn’t equate to humourless, bra-burning anarchists or man-hating satanists – far from it. Look at popular feminist icons of today, the multi-talented, accomplished and gorgeous: Queen Bey aka Beyonce (pictured); actor and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson; US comedians Ellen DeGeneres, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler; US musicians Taylor Swift and Madonna; US fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg; former US first lady and US Secretary of State, now US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton; US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey and US actor/producer/author Lena Dunham.

feminism, Emma Watson, Beyonce, gender pay gap

Closer to home, there’s actor Cate Blanchett; former Prime Minister turned author Julia Gillard; journalist, businesswoman, television personality and author Ita Buttrose; author and commentator, Dr Germaine Greer; model-turned-best-selling novelist Tara Moss and former Governor-General of Australia, Dame Quentin Bryce, who’s just released the Not Now Not Ever report, which looks at how soaring rates of domestic violence in Queensland should be tackled.

Still too timid or afraid to call yourself a feminist? Here’s another damn good reason why you should join the movement: In Queensland alone this year, 20 women have died and countless more have suffered violence at the hands of a partner or former partner. In addition, one woman is killed every week in Australia by her partner or former partner and the national figure of domestic violence fatalities currently sits at 62 women.

What’s more, 0ften these murdered women are mothers and at times their children are murdered too. Among this horrifying national statistic were mothers Tara Brown, 24, and Karina Lock, 49, who allegedly died last week at the hands of their ex-partners and Sidney Playford, 6, who was allegedly murdered by her father, Stephen.

Australia’s domestic violence scourge sees many women and children living in constant trauma and fear. It’s real, it’s happening now and – even worse – according to research, domestic and family violence perpetrators are more likely to also commit acts of child sexual assault. Domestic and family violence and child sexual assault are inextricably linked: it’s about an abuse of power and perpetrators maintaining control.

So, you can try to turn a blind eye to the fact that women do not have equal footing in our country, or you can do something about it – and feminism is a bloody good place to start.

Recently, I witnessed an older boy purposefully push my then three-year-old daughter over in his bid to sit on the swing she was on at a public playground. I rushed over in her defence, but there was no need: she’d sprung back up in fury and defended herself very nicely without my help, telling him he had no right to treat her so. And I’m proud of that: I am very consciously trying to raise two strong-willed, brave daughters who will stand up for what they believe in and never let anyone – man or woman – push them around. They deserve equality and respect and to live in safety, just as their male peers do. Have I borne two little proud feminists? God, I hope so.

And my own amazing feminist mother helped steer me in the right director: banning me, as a naive and easily-influenced teen, from joining a cheerleader squad and attending a debutante ball. “No daughter of mine!” said she on both counts, putting me at odds with my peers at a private school. And thank God she did: now, I look back and thank her for it and will repeat this history with my own daughters.

Another proud feminist is the uber talented, smart and beautiful fashion designer Juli Grbac, 36, (pictured) who was the inaugural winner of international TV show Project Runway Australia. Juli, whose recent successes include re-designing Virgin Australia’s crew uniforms in 2010. The glamorous and elegant uniforms were unveiled in 2011, with a catwalk show featuring Elle Macpherson and 60 Virgin Australia crew members. In addition, she’s just finished re-designing Suncorp Bank’s uniforms.

feminism, Beyonce, gender equality

Here, she puts the case for feminism beautifully: “I am all for powerful women, I think now more than ever we have examples of powerful women all over the world today. I was raised by a strong Macedonian woman, mum came to Australia when she was just 21. Within a few years, she was running her own business in the rag-trade. I was brought up to believe that I could do anything that I put my mind to, and with my mum as my mentor, I have picked up where she left off.

“After running my own business for 14 years I wouldn’t have it any other way. In the last few years girl power has become stronger than ever, women are empowering and inspiring one another more than ever before, especially through social media.  Beyonce is the Queen, but at the same time relatable, she is a true example of feminism.

“It doesn’t really surprise me when other young women say they aren’t feminists, as everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however I do feel that more of the younger generation are increasingly becoming feminists.”

Amen to that, I say.

What do you think? Why are some women still reluctant to call themselves feminists?

Image via www.theloop.ca

September 15, 2015

When Love Ends In Murder

I’d like to tell you a story. It’s a true story. A love story with a tragic ending. It’s the story of Dianne who was found dead in her home and that of her partner of more than twenty years, Jack, who was arrested for allegedly murdering her.

RELATED: Escaping Domestic Violence

Now, you may ask yourselves why this story? Well, I knew Jack and Dianne before that fateful moment when cupid decided to strike his arrow in their direction. Way, way back when we were just kids and decades before Dianne was found laying lifeless in her home – and well, before Jack ended up in a pair of handcuffs.

So let me start by telling you a bit about Dianne. She was exceptionally intelligent and one of the most gentle, peace-loving souls who ever walked the planet. She had that hippy vibe going on with her serene, loving, caring nature. For work, she cared for the elderly – including my dearly departed grandmother – and she loved kids but never wanted to have any of her own.

Jack, on the other hand, was a lovable larrikin. In his late teens he’d fathered a son and you couldn’t really call him an angel. However, he did have charming good looks and a wicked sense of humor, and looking back I can understand why Dianne couldn’t help but be interested.

He was also like forbidden candy, seeing as he was a friend of Dianne’s brother. Hell bent on looking out for his little sister’s welfare, her brother tried relentlessly to separate her from his mates. Yet the minute these two crossed paths there was nothing anyone could say or do to keep them apart. That caused a few problems – quite a few problems, but the heart wants what the heart wants. So they became completely inseparable.

Over the years, Jack and Dianne kept pretty much to themselves. I’d bump into her on the odd occasion and through our conversations I sensed her entire world revolved around Jack. He was her best friend, her lover and her everything. She loved him with her entire being and if there were problems between them, she never revealed them. Dianne was a very private person.

Upon news of Dianne’s passing, it came as a shock. Rumour had it she’d died of a suspected drug overdose, yet I’d seen her 6 months prior and she looked great, everything seemed normal. Something was amiss and the fact that the coroner took almost two months to release her body was highly unusual.

There were suspicions that Dianne’s death wasn’t what it seemed. There was some speculation that Jack could have had something to do with it; he’d suffered a string of tragedies with the passing of his mother and son, and understandably people can only take so much heartache.

So when I received a text stating that Jack had been arrested for Dianne’s murder it came as a surprise, but not a total shock. The police believed something wasn’t quite right about her death so they’d been investigating for three long years. They came to the conclusion that it wasn’t a drug overdose, but a strangulation and their prime suspect was Jack.

So how did over twenty years of love and devotion end in murder? It goes to show that no-one ever really knows what goes on behind closed doors. Even though a couple remains together for decades, it doesn’t necessarily mean that everything is rosy.

The saddest fact of this whole scenario is that this story isn’t remarkable. There are thousands of stories just like this one. Every single day hundreds of people around Australia are in court facing some type of domestic violence charge, while thousands of others are in their own homes enduring it.

Now, there’s no doubt that these two loved each other – and that’s partly why domestic violence continues to be an endless battle. If we all thought with our heads instead of our hearts, no-one would endure being abused. Yet, was Dianne being abused? Nobody knows. Perhaps if she had spoken out she’d be alive and maybe, just maybe, Jack could have asked for help. Nothing good ever comes of silence, so please remember if you need help that you need to speak.

Image via 7-themes.com

August 27, 2015

Why You Never Deserve Male Violence And Bullying

Angie, 36, feels trapped in a toxic relationship because her physically and emotionally abusive, long-term boyfriend earns a lot of money and controls the finances. Years of degrading comments have left her feeling hopeless, worthless and powerless to leave him.

Jane, 25, is young, successful and slim, but stays with her emotionally abusive boyfriend, who constantly tells her she’s fat and stupid, because she’s scared of being alone and has started to believe his taunts about never being able to find someone better to love her.

Sophie, 45, has endured years of domestic violence, physical sexual and emotional, at the hands of her long-time husband, but is scared of leaving him because she’s worried about what further harm he’ll do to her and their three kids, and besides, the AVO she took out against him hasn’t worked anyway.

RELATED: Escaping Domestic Violence

Male bullying and violence can take many varied and insidious forms, but know this dear reader – you never, ever deserve it. And while the above names may be fake, to protect the innocent and safeguard people’s privacy, sadly the scenarios are not – they’re all recent, real-life examples.

Widespread male violence and bullying can be from a brother, father, or a partner; sadly, violence against women is one of the most widespread human rights abuses in Australia and around the world. In fact, one in three Australian women will experience violence in an intimate relationship.

self-help, self-esteem, domestic violence

And while I’m sure I don’t need to bombard you with many further grim domestic violence statistics here – for violence against women is so widespread and ingrained in our society that most women will know others in the above situations or experience such abuse themselves – it is noteworthy that domestic violence is the biggest cause of homelessness for Australian women.

And when you’re young and naive, you might think you can change a partner; make them a better person capable of kicking their abusive ways. But as you mature, you will hopefully come to realise, as I had to in my early 20s, that that’s not your job and you deserve so much more than they could ever give you.

And speaking of what we women deserve, just this past weekend I was so saddened to read a newspaper report about how a 16-year-old rising Romanian tennis player said she “deserved” to be violently assaulted by her abusive father (also her coach) because she’d played badly.

How did it come to this, that women feel they bring male violence and bullying on themselves? And what makes a man, as my vile, middle-aged neighbour did recently, ever think it’s OK to verbally abuse a woman, from the street outside her home, over fallen palm fronds in his yard post-storm?

I pride myself on being a strong woman, but even I shrunk back into the shadows of my lounge room when this nutter decided to hurl abuse at me at 9am on a Sunday, all while my husband was away and I was breakfasting with my two toddlers in the supposed safety of my own home! And so I went in search of answers from a clinical psychologist, who wishes to remain anonymous, over this difficult issue.

I hope you find her expert, wise answers as illuminating and helpful as I did.

abuse, violence, victim, love, survival, thriving, help, government and welfare agencies

Why is male violence and bullying so prevalent in society? Unfortunately, often boys grow up thinking it’s OK to use their strength and size to get what they want and they continue this bullying behaviour into adulthood because they find that it works; they can dominate and intimidate to get what they want. It may be more likely in boys who lack good verbal skills as they feel more competent using intimidation rather than discussion.

How do we teach women they never “deserve” to be abused, whether physically, sexually or emotionally? Of course no woman (or child) deserves to be abused! No one “deserves” abuse and no one has the right to abuse others. Of course, it does happen for reasons mentioned above. Perpetrators often abuse women for trivial things and make them believe they are stupid, incompetent, clumsy or whatever. This make the perpetrator feel strong/powerful/in control. Women with a reasonable sense of self-esteem can counteract this with an appropriate comment, but women who lack self confidence, are fearful or who feel helpless will take such put-downs to heart and feel even more disempowered. Addressing the DV or abuse would involve helping the woman to believe in their own worth and not accept bullying and abuse.

How do women being abused best seek for help? Talk to anyone and everyone – friends, family, DV help lines and if it doesn’t stop, the police. Bring the abuse out into the open because it’s more likely to escalate if kept hidden. Unfortunately, women often don’t like to talk about it if they are being abused because they often feel a sense of shame. Perpetrators often make their victims believe it is the woman’s fault. Abused women are often lacking in self-esteem so agencies that work with abused women will help them to build their self-esteem.

Why are some female victims so scared and reluctant to seek help? How can we better support these women? The reality is that some perpetrators make terrible threats against them and their children and women have good reason to be afraid. Usually abuse in a family starts with something small and gradually escalates. That’s why it’s important to address the abuse as soon as it begins, with a clear message that it’s not ok. But it’s not easy and women should never be judged for not speaking up. Perpetrators sometimes threaten to harm/kill the woman and/or her children if they seek outside help, so it’s fear of the repercussions if they speak up that prevents them.

How can mothers better educate their sons not to abuse women? The way in which the father and other significant other male role models treat and speak to and about women is very important. If these male role models set an example of respectful treatment of women then boys are likely to internalise this, just as they will internalise disrespect and abuse of women. It’s not inevitable though – boys can make a conscious decision to be different from their fathers.

If you are experiencing male violence and/or bullying in any of its forms, seek help via The National Domestic Violence Hotline via www.thehotline.org; and/or www.somethingincommon.gov.au, and/or Lifeline on 13 11 14 and www.lifeline.org.au.

Human Rights Day

 

Main image via gretchenmiller.wordpress.com and secondary image via www.pixabay.com

December 10, 2014