Campaign to Help Australians Learn Signs of Partner Violence
17 May 2016 at 9:59 am
Geelong AFL player Jimmy Bartel has joined forces with 1800RESPECT and domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty to launch a new national campaign to help Australians recognise the signs of intimate partner violence and how best to support someone experiencing it.
The Support a Friend campaign, launched on Monday, features a video and information resources offering a practical list of do’s and don’ts for family and friends about how to talk to and safely support someone who may be experiencing domestic violence, including sexual assault.
According to government funded NFP the Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety or ANROWS, one in four women in Australia has experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
Bartel, whose personal experiences with domestic violence as a child led him to pledge to grow awareness of domestic violence and how people can seek assistance, encouraged people to seek help.
“It is important for the people affected by domestic violence to reassure themselves they are not alone, help is available in a variety of ways and that their story is valued and not judged,” Bartel said.
“I can’t encourage people enough who find themselves in domestic violence environments to have a conversation with family and close friends that they can trust and who can listen and not feel like they need to battle it alone.”
Australian of the Year 2015, Rosie Batty said Support a Friend provided valuable information and advice on how to have the sometimes challenging or difficult conversation with someone experiencing the impacts of violence.
“I believe the most crucial support a family member or friend can lend is to listen without judging,” Batty said.
“Focus on what you can do to support her without telling her what to do. And it’s important that she feels you believe her, and that you want to help her. Blaming her, or suggesting it’s her fault or she should just leave, is not helpful. Respect her decisions even if you don’t agree.”
Some of the signs family and friends should look out for include; if she seems afraid of her partner or is very anxious to please them, if she often talks about her partner being jealous or bad tempered, if she seems anxious or no longer trusts her own judgement, if she sees less of her friends or family or if she seems reluctant to leave her children with her partner.
Jane French from 1800RESPECT, the National Sexual Assault Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service, said it was important for everyone to recognise the signs.
“Given the impact sexual assault and domestic violence has across every section of our community, it is important for all of us to recognise the signs of violence in others and know what to do to support those women experiencing it,” French said.
“Many Australians learn CPR because one day someone’s life may depend on it. We should have the same mindset when it comes to educating ourselves about domestic violence because one day the wellbeing, or even the life, of a woman you know may depend on it.
“If someone you know is living with violence, listen to her, take her concerns seriously and help her to explore options.
“You don’t need to have all the answers. Just let her know you are there for her.”
Domestic Violence Resource Centre Victoria CEO Emily Maguire said the biggest mistake was to say nothing.
“People are often scared to ask questions about family violence because it’s still seen as such a personal issue,” Maguire said.
“This campaign helps all Australians to remember that the best thing we can do to support a friend or family member who is experiencing violence is just to let them know that we’ve noticed and that we’re there to support them, whatever they need and whenever they need it.
“There’s a fear that people will make a mistake – that they’ll say the wrong thing or they’ll assume that violence is occurring when there’s actually something else going on. But we know our friends and family and we know when there’s something just not right. Trust your instincts, and remember the biggest mistake is to say nothing.”
The campaign resources were developed by 1800RESPECT in partnership with Domestic Violence Resources Centre Victoria, OurWatch and ANROWS.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or domestic violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, call 000.