Too close to home: What can you do to stop family violence?
It can be difficult to keep up with all of Senator Pauline Hanson’s offensive comments, so you might have missed her assessment of Australia’s family violence issues. The One Nation Leader recently received a nomination for the Ernie Awards for Sexist Remarks, following her statement that women are making “frivolous claims” to obtain custody of their children. She also stated that family violence arises from an unfair family law system, and that “we will continue to see murders due to sheer frustration…caused by this unworkable scheme”. Regardless of any problems with the Australian legal system, there are absolutely no excuses for perpetrating violence. Former Australian politician, Mark Latham likewise received a nomination, after he attacked Australian of the Year, Rosie Batty, for making perpetrators “feel worse about themselves”. Frankly, Senator Hanson’s and Mr Latham's comments are misogynistic, and they reflect the continuing culture of victim blaming.
Obviously these remarks are not improving things for victims of family violence, so here’s how YOU can help.
1. Don’t Make Sexist Jokes
Whilst violence can be afflicted upon people of any gender, women tend to be the main victims of family abuse. One woman is killed every week in Australia by a current or former partner. (Source: Our Watch. Change the Story: A shared framework for the primary prevention of violence against women and their children in Australia.)
The best way we can address this in the long term is by promoting respect for women, and avoiding objectification. This means no sexist jokes. They’re not funny. It’s not okay to accuse someone of ‘throwing like a girl’. If you hear someone making a sexist joke, call them out. Laughing at sexist jokes only contributes to the problem.
2. Support Campaigns Against Family Violence
- White Ribbon aims to end men’s violence towards women and girls, promote gender equality and reshape perceptions of masculinity. You can help by getting involved in White Ribbon Day, becoming a White Ribbon Ambassador/Advocate or making a donation. Find out more about White Ribbon at www.whiteribbon.org.au
- Our Watch is another group which aims to change the culture, attitudes and behaviours which contribute to family violence. See www.ourwatch.org.au for more information.
- The Luke Batty Foundation was founded by Rosie Batty, after her son was killed in a horrific act of violence by her former partner. The foundation helps women and children who have been affected by family violence. Find out more or donate at www.lukebattyfoundation.org.au
3. Support Your Friends
Family violence is often kept quiet, but it’s alarmingly common in Australia. Chances are, you know someone who has been affected and needs your help. If you’re worried about someone, don’t be afraid to ask the question. One effect of family violence is that victims often feel isolated. If someone does need help, make sure that you know who to contact for assistance. Some of these bodies in Australia include Centres Against Sexual Assault, your State Department of Health, and Victoria Police's Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Units, (or your State’s equivalent). Remember, family violence is everyone’s responsibility and we all have a duty to prevent it.
Acknowledgements: Roger Wu, Mangala Prasetia Wen, Keera Weise and Sangita Iyer.