Family Violence Costs Everyone
25 November 2014 at 11:01 am
Today’s White Ribbon Day, also the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, urges Australians to see the signs and to say that no amount of violence, abuse or bullying is ever OK, writes Senator Claire Moore, Labor’s Shadow Minister for Women.
Conventional wisdom has it that women and men compete in Australian society on fairly equal terms. Wrong.
As evidence before the current Senate inquiry into domestic violence has heard, the victims of family and domestic violence are overwhelmingly women.
On average one woman a week is killed as a result of partner violence.
The fear of violence is in itself a powerful weapon used by men over women.
But violence, whoever the target, is unacceptable. It costs our families, our communities and our economy.
We need solutions that go beyond electoral cycles, such as the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children, which has bipartisan support.
The national inquiry has heard that crisis hotlines are overwhelmed by the volume of calls they get each day. More people are asking for help than ever before.
And yet we know that most cases still go unreported.
Family violence is actions or words that hurt, scare or bully others. For too many people it is thought of as a normal part of a relationship. Everyone in the family is harmed by it, especially children. Young people living with violence can learn that violence or abuse is the way to get what they want. They often do badly at school or turn to drugs and alcohol to cope.
A consistent theme to emerge in the inquiry is the large number of family violence and protection orders that are issued and then breached.
Every breach opens up a fresh battle for women already fatigued. As witness Rosie Batty testified: “Every time he breached it, I then had to go back to the police to hold that boundary. That is when it becomes exhausting because it is always the same pattern – the police cannot locate him and you have to stay to set things up so that he can be arrested.
“So you are the one putting yourself on the line with no back-up and no support. That is just how it feels. I do not know that there is a magic solution, but you know that you have to work really hard to get the police to respond and react because they have so many other things on.”
When women and their families take the courageous step to leave they find it hard to find alternative housing. They are having to stay longer in women’s refuges. More women are at risk of homelessness because of a shortage of affordable accommodation.
Queensland’s Women’s House Shelta told the hearing that women are often listed with the large tenant screening service TICA as “bad tenants” because of debts incurred by their abusive partners or accrued as the result of long-term abuse.
In most cases violence does not stop without help. White Ribbon Day today, also the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, urges us to see the signs and to say that no amount of violence, abuse or bullying is ever OK.
It’s incumbent on all of us, especially our leaders, to blow the whistle on family violence.
Violence in the home is a crime.
Unless violent people change their thinking and take responsibility for their actions, the pattern will only be repeated.
Boys and young men have to learn to respect girls and women from the start.
I commend the efforts of the community leaders and politicians (especially blokes) who are stepping up and demanding a better world for women and their daughters.
White Ribbon now has more than 2000 ambassadors signed up as male champions for change, working in schools and workplaces and using social media. I urge others to join up.
Having more women in the halls of power – in our parliaments and cabinets and corporate boards – will also help.
About the Author: Claire Moore is a Labor Senator and Shadow Minister for Women. She is a member of the Senate committee looking into domestic violence in Australia.