By ABBY CROXFORD
According to the Parliament of Australia, “domestic violence refers to acts of violence that occur between people who have, or have had, an intimate relationship in domestic settings. These acts include physical, sexual, emotional and psychological abuse.”
The Australian Parliament found that a woman is more likely to be killed in her home by her male partner than anywhere else or by anyone else.
The Parliament also concluded that most women do not report violence to police; they are even less likely to report violent incidents to police when the perpetrator is a current partner.
In the Women’s Safety Australia Study (ABS 1996) 23% of women who had engaged in a married or de-facto relationship, experienced violence by their partner at some point in the relationship. Almost 1 in 4 women.
One in three children admitted, in a Western Australia Study, that they were hit by their father whilst trying to defend their mother or step-mother from violence.
34% of the general community agree rape occurs because of men “not being able to control their need for sex”.
The National Council to Reduce Violence Against Women and Children states: the biggest risk factor for becoming a victim of sexual assault and/or domestic and family violence is being a woman.
I am sorry to overwhelm you. Well, actually, not really, because the separate worlds created because of domestic violence are overwhelming. It makes me angry. Incomprehensibly sad. And, many more emotions that are a bit hard to express.
In support of Zonta (world-wide organisation of executives in business and the professions working together to advance the status of women through service and advocacy) I didn’t know quite what to do. I opened my laptop and researched statistics of domestic and family violence. I read. And I read. Endless pages of numbers, percentage signs and really horrifying mathematic truths about the culture and world I am growing up in. I cried for a while after reading some and then at other times just sat and looked at my screen with utter disbelief.
After I gathered myself together and typed all the statistics up (12 pages and that was only two websites) I was again, lost. What do I write? I have read many heartbreaking stories on Mamamia by survivors – conquerors – of domestic and family violence. By writing, they let me into a little bit of their difficult and confusing worlds they are fighting. But, honestly, apart from these brief meetings and minor research, I don’t know what it is like to be in a world where I am directly impacted by domestic and family violence. I can read stories and learn about everything I should do if I am ever in that situation. I am told to get help, to leave, to talk to someone but that is all very standard until you find yourself or someone else in a similar situation. So due to my lack of knowledge and understanding, I felt I had nothing to offer – how could I possibly make a worthy contribution to this issue battling Australia and the world?
Then, I remembered why I wanted to write this story in the beginning. Why I wanted to promote all the hard work Zonta does for the women who are unfairly combating domestic violence. From November 2012 to December 2013, Zonta launched and has been tirelessly working on the “Zonta Says No” campaign which is designed to raise awareness and increase actions to end domestic violence against girls and women – world-wide. On the 9th of November, Zontians, family, friends and members of the community are invited to join a walk in Brisbane, desired to make a visual and bold statement to the public and media outlets that Zonta and the community are uniting to advocate to end violence against women and girls – locally and internationally.
But still, I questioned – what is the purpose of walking? Simply walking. That’s not going to stop domestic and family violence against women and girls. And, then I realised. Everything seemed to come together. Walking is not going to stop domestic violence, but walking with Zonta and saying no to domestic violence is advocacy and advocacy is about having a voice and using it. Walking on the 9th of November is joining a battle that for far too long has been only fought within a home between a man and woman. It is about providing a voice and answers to all the women whose voices are stripped of them and can’t be heard. This walk is all about calling for some action to end domestic violence against women and girls and using your voice, which is often taken for granted, and standing up for the girls and women who are having to be part of a world they do not deserve to live in?
Reading all of the statistics I learnt that the attitude and culture against domestic violence is changing positively, but I also sadly learnt that the younger generation being shaped are more likely to justify, excuse or view as not as severe the actions encompassed in domestic violence. I learnt that the single biggest risk factor for becoming a victim of sexual assault and/or domestic and family violence is being a woman. Quite frankly, I hate that. It seems that no matter how many choices I make to help prevent this behaviour being committed against me, my friends, sisters or mother, I can’t change the biggest risk factor of all – my gender. However, what I can try and change is the culture and attitude that I am growing up and surrounded by and consequently, help me and all the women and girls who are, have been or could be affected by domestic and family violence.
Joining the “Zonta Says No” campaign and walk is about calling for change and calling for action against this disgusting epidemic infiltrating our global and local community. But, most of all, it is about providing a voice to all those women and girls whose voices can’t be heard. Yet.
For more about the “Zonta Says No” Campaign – http://zontasaysno.com/
For more information on the “Zonta Says No Walk” – http://zontasaysno.com.au/walk-to-say-no/
It is really important you book your place in the walk by October 30th.
To book, it is $25 for your place and a bold, orange T-Shirt which reads – “Zonta Says No”.
If you’re not based in Brisbane, here is a website for events in the surrounding areas – http://zontasaysno.com.au/brisbane-and-surrounds/