Not that long ago I attended a workshop on Domestic and Family Violence. For no other reason than to become more aware of the laws surrounding both and as a stepping stone for perhaps going back to work in the law as a solicitor or rather a defender of women and children.
I must admit prior to the workshop my knowledge around DV was limited to what I read in the papers and saw on television. I am one of the lucky ones who have never been exposed to such a horrific occurrence. So going in naively I didn’t know or fully understand the frightening statistics that surround a problem that is clearly an epidemic in our community.
· One in three Australian women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15
· One in five Australian women has experienced sexual violence
· One in four Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner
· One in four Australian women have experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner
I knew the statistics were bad yet I didn’t realise just how prevalent DV was and continues to be within our community. What, however, really shook me was the effect that DV within families has on babies and children.
We went on to learn that morning that 1 in 4 of all children and 1 in 2 Aboriginal children are exposed to family and domestic violence during childhood with children who are exposed to domestic violence being 17% more likely to attempt suicide as adults compared to those not exposed being 2%. Similarly, 63% of child deaths have a known domestic violence background. A leading doctor in the area has also discovered that chronic stress resulting from abuse and exposure to domestic violence shrinks a Child’s brain.
Trauma doesn’t end in childhood either. Statistics from the Qld State Government as of January 2018 suggest that 90% of our youth who are in trouble with the law have experienced domestic violence as children.
So quite clearly: This. Is. Not. Ok. In fact, its absolutely abhorrent and something has to be done. Society needs to make a stand. Lawmakers need to address the issue and legislation clearly needs to change. We need to come down like a tonne of bricks on the perpetrators and as a society, we need to say ‘THIS. IS. NOT. OK’.
We may never know who, in our lives, is experiencing domestic violence for the victims are often too afraid to talk. It could be our sister, our best friend, the mum from school, the work colleague. In fact, although women are far more likely to experience domestic violence than men, in some instances, men can be victims too. The epidemic, although skewered towards women being victims, doesn’t discriminate in its entirety.
So here’s the thing. Unlike the incredibly impressive, rather elderly woman who facilitated the workshop, I haven’t had years of experience in the area and I don’t have any answers. I just know that we need to do something and do something fast. The lives and future of so many of our children rely upon us taking a stand. For further assistance or information please contact the Red Rose Foundation at www.redrosefoundation.com.au
National services include:
1800 RESPECT 1800 737 732
No to Violence 1300 766 491