On reflection 2015 has witnessed a significant shift in our community’s awareness of the implications of family violence and our shared desire to prevent it occurring in the future. Tragically, it has only been through our exposure to the loss of a number of victims that a face has been afforded to this horrible phenomenon. The fact more than one woman a week is lost to an act of family violence is gut wrenching.
Obviously when faced with an actual incident of violence or abuse, my hope is that most are aware of the immediate support available, be it through the Queensland Police Service, or our local Domestic Violence Support Services. Where there is a suspicion that a friend or family member is being subjected to family violence, we need to support each other to exercise the courage to reach out and offer support and safe harbour. No one wants to regret having failed to offer that support. I believe the majority of people are inherent good natured and compassionate. It is often a fear of overstepping the mark that prevents us from acting instinctively to help someone. The reality though is that there is so much more to lose in failing to intervene then being told that your concern is misplaced.
There is also a need to appreciate that family violence is more than physical harm. It is all acts of harm – be it controlling behaviour, threats, acts of intimidation, verbal abuse or threats against those that we care for.
The question that often arises is what can we do more generally to take a stand against family violence in our local community. What can we each do to make a difference?
Without doubt, men are in a unique position to speak out and step in when male friends and relatives insult, abuse or attack women. Violence is perpetrated by a small minority of men in our community, and without doubt men can also be the victim of such violence. It will take a majority of men to create a culture in which violence of any nature is unacceptable and openly condemned. This starts with a dialogue with our sons and daughters, an overt education program in our schools, the emergence of celebrities and thought leaders in our community whom are vocal about their condemnation, and boys and men whom have the courage to call out their friends and family members about behaviours which is disrespectful and damaging to women.
White Ribbon Australia have some powerful resources available to the general community via their website. http://www.whiteribbon.org.au