Rosie Batty, our current Australian of the Year, rose to prominence due to the murder of her son Luke, by his own father. His callous murder was ruthlessly carried out in front of children and families at cricket practice.
Rosie’s case highlighted the reality of what many women face day to day. Her campaign to raise awareness, plus her bid to bring about social change highlights sickening statistics that need to be addressed. Her website Never Alone share statistics that on average two women are killed per week and one woman every three hours is admitted into hospital due to domestic violence.
A national emergency
Family and domestic violence has been described by the Victorian Government as a national emergency. So much so that there is currently a royal commission investigating what’s going on.
More often than not, people miss the cues of what’s happening to them and find themselves in situations they never thought possible. Abuse is spoken about in hushed tones, under the breath and with a bucket load of shame.
Many believe it was their fault. They believe that life can be no different from what they have experienced. They believe it can never get any better. So often, they are in a state of terror.
Abuse often is a demonstration of power and control at its most corrupted and horrible best. It humiliates, it is a robber of dignity and erodes self-worth.
Victims, usually women and children, are groomed, set up and taken advantage of. This is a crime of devastating effects which can take years to recover from.
When I think about it, a fire stirs up in my belly, giving me the drive and passion to do the work I do. It is the reason why I became a counsellor/psychotherapist, because of my deeply held belief that there is hope on the other side of abuse. The more that is understood about abuse and the conditions in which it thrives, the greater it can be recognised for what it is, a crime.
The Cycle of Violence
Violence is not a once off event but rather a set pattern of behaviours that the abuser will use again and again. According to research by Dr Lenore Walker in 1979 which can be found on the NSW Police website, the pattern is as follows:
Build up – tension, arguments and harassment increase
Stand over – increased levels of control and threats to instil fear
Explosion – extreme use of violence, aggression and abuse used maliciously in order to exact extreme control
Remorse – abuser justifies and minimises their behaviour, shows guilt and may try to harm themselves
Pursuit – blames everything from alcohol or other substances, to other people, including the victim, promises it will never happen again, presents as a victim
Honeymoon – increased care and affection, romantic gestures, manipulative behaviour
Then cycle starts again….
Why doesn’t she leave?
Sometimes people will say, ‘if it was that bad she would leave’ or ‘she must be provoking it’. The NSW Police believe the reasons include:
- Fear of not believed
- Fear of the abuser minimising it to police and others after an incident
- Fear of the abuse increasing
- Fear loved ones would be harmed if abuse is disclosed
- Fear of no home or financial security
- Fear of being alone and isolated
- Fear of shaming the family
- Believing the abusers promises ‘it won’t happen again’
- Belief that the abuse isn’t that bad, minimising what’s happening to them
What to do?
If your relative or friend has told you they are victim, here’s what to do:
Listen to her and believe her sharing takes an enormous amount of courage.
Give her the space to make her own mind up if she goes back, tell her you are very concerned about her but respect her decision.
Or Nationally contact 1800 RESPECT or 1800 737 732
Make a safety plan provide emergency numbers she can call on to escape, have a suitcase packed in a safe place for her and her children, have copies of important documents such as drives licence, birth certificates, bank statements and school records. Encourage her to record what is happening to her. Record what you witness and the things you’re being told. It is when she leaves that things become the most dangerous for her.
Find a safe place for her to stay Domestic Violence Services can help you with this.
Call 000 if you witness violence the abuser being caught in the act has a way of reducing the level of violence experienced in the moment. So do call attention to it.
If you are experiencing violence, you don’t have to put up with it. There are options for you. If you know someone who is a victim don’t judge her, support her. She needs you.