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8 things you can do to make a real difference when it comes to gender-based violence.

This post deals with family violence and might be triggering for some readers. 

On Monday 30 November 2020, three women in Australia were violently killed. 

They joined too many other women in the Counting Dead Women project by Destroy the Joint, which counts all female victims of violence. 

At last count, at least 50 women have died by violence in 2020. 

Watch: Women and Violence, The hidden numbers. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

We hear the phrase too often: they weren’t just a number, they were individuals with families, friends, careers, and dreams. Until all of those moments were ended by an act of extraordinary violence. 

Although one-off acts of violence do happen, domestic and family violence is usually an ongoing pattern of behaviour. 

It's rare that it's just a one-time thing. 

The statistics are confronting, and even scarier when you consider domestic and family violence is under-reported, hidden across Australia and getting worse during COVID-19. 

When we look at our communities, we can see that violence continues despite systems and structures in place to prevent and support. 

For most of these women, the murderer was someone they knew. 

For many women, children and young people in Australia, the abuse starts at home. Behind closed doors. 

Where we should all be safe. Keeping our doors locked is something that I rarely thought about as a child growing up in rural England. 

To be honest, even now in our family-filled inner-city Sydney suburb I still forget. But when I think about women experiencing domestic violence, I think of that door and how they’d be safer on the other side of it. 

Sadly, it’s not that simple. The most dangerous time for a woman experiencing domestic violence is when she's planning to leave. 

Gender-based violence is common in Australia, with 1 in 5 women (18.4 per cent) experiencing sexual violence since the age of 15.

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One in 4 (23 per cent) have experienced physical or sexual violence by current or former intimate partner since age 15. Young women (18–24 years) experience significantly higher rates of physical and sexual violence than women in older age groups. 

November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and marks the first day of the global advocacy campaign, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. 

Yesterday was International Day of Human Rights, bringing 16 Days 2020 to a close. 

These 16 Days of Activism exists because of three political activist sisters – Patria, Minerva and Maria Teresa Mirabal. 

On 25 November 1960, they were clubbed to death by agents of the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. 

In the years since, the Mirabal sisters’ name has become a symbol of feminist resistance. In commemoration of their deaths, November 25 was declared International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in Latin America in 1980 and became formally recognised by the United Nations in 1999. 

From there, 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence was born. 

My name is Bobbie, I am the Senior Manager of Advocacy at YWCA Australia: a proud feminist organisation. A place where our evolving intersectional feminism advocacy brings people together to act for gender equality. 

As a white able-bodied person with permanent residency, I am constantly learning and unlearning how racism and colonialism shapes Australia and affords me privileges daily and always.

These same privileges are not extended to those on temporary visas, who are people of colour, who live with disability. 

In Australia, First Nations women experience higher rates and more severe forms of domestic and family violence. 

However, domestic and family violence are not part of traditional First Nations culture—the epidemic of violence is an import of colonialism and often perpetrated by non-indigenous men against First Nations women. 

To stop the violence we need to learn from First Nations women and their leadership. Without racial justice there is no gender equality.

As a non-binary queer person, I have a deep connection to the impact of domestic violence within my own communities.

LGBTIQA+ people may be less likely to identify domestic and family violence or seek help because of discrimination or heterosexual stereotypes. They can also experience unique forms of violence such as threats of being ‘outed’. 

Findings in the Private Lives 3 National Report have found that there is a higher rate of violence in LGBTIQA+ relationships, however the majority of perpetrators are still cis-gender men. 

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Worryingly, very recent research shows LGBTIQA+ Australians under 25 are 4.5 times more likely to be at risk of domestic and family violence than those 25 years and over. 

Change can happen, but it needs to be led from the top.

Press conferences are frequently called and deaths are condemned, but at the same time the media will report on “great blokes in the community” and move on. 

What we must remember is that all forms of violence are preventable and preventing violence is everyone’s business. This year, the theme for 16 Days of Activism was “Orange the World: Fund, Respond, Prevent, Collect!”. 

We called for funding for feminist advocacy organisations like YWCA Australia, as well as women’s specialist services and men’s behaviour change services. To prevent violence, we need to address gender inequality and this requires systemic change, bold policy, and long-term investment at all levels of community. 

Here are eight everyday actions we can all take. 

Image: Getty. 

1. Listen to and believe survivors

No one deserves abuse.

Don’t question a survivor’s story. Some words you may wish to use are: "I am here for you, I believe you, you are not alone ."

2. Read and share the voices of First Nations women

Read Dr Marlene Longbottom’s piece What will it take to acknowledge and respect our humanity?commit to anti-racism and hold people accountable around you. 

3. Share what you know with the next generation

Start conversations early about gender roles. 

Children are highly perceptive and will model behaviours around them. 

Encourage a culture of difference, acceptance, consent, body autonomy and accountability. 

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4. Advocate for response services in your community

Services for survivors are essential. 

That means refuges, shelters, safe houses, safe at home programs, 24/7 support online and on the phone, counselling, specialist support for children and young people, affordable long-term housing and many other supports. 

Contact your local MP and find out how they are supporting the community to end gender-based violence and join us in calling on Governments to bridge the funding gap. 

5. Donate!

Find organisations that support women and their children experiencing violence and make sure your donation dollars go in their direction. 

Start your search with Free Her, Grandmothers Against Removals or Black Rainbow

6. Be an active positive bystander

Challenge gender stereotypes and discriminatory behaviours in your workplace, home and community. 

Celebrate diversity and reflect on your own attitudes and behaviours

7. Learn the signs of abuse and how you can help

If you’re concerned about someone you know, learn the signs, and find out how you can best support them.

A safety plan is thinking about things you can do to be safer when living with violence and abuse. 

The best way you can make one is with a local support service but you can also get support with making plan over the phone on 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or via their online chat service.

8. Start conversations

Start conversations with those around you – family, friends, colleagues, people at the supermarket – the possibilities are endless!

Show your support on social media, learn about how the federal budget could be better, and engage with campaigns like Our Watch’s Do Something.

This is a year like no other. 2020 was the year of COVID-19. But another crisis has also hit. 

According to UN Women, globally, 243 million women and girls experienced violence from an intimate partner in the past year. 

Gender-based violence is a disease in our communities, but one with no vaccine on the horizon – unless we all act now. 

Sixteen days may feel like a long time to collectively act to end of gender-based violence but as an organisation supporting women and their children escaping violence and working to address gender inequality, we don’t stop there. 

The work continues - join us for the other 349 days.

If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home. 

Feature Image: Getty.