Trigger Warning: This post deals with issues of domestic violence and may be triggering for survivors of abuse.
One in five Australians.
Glance around you when you’re leaning against the car, waiting for the school pick-up. Look at your colleagues in the afternoon meeting, when everyone’s minds have begun to wander. Gaze into the eyes of fellow shoppers at the supermarket, rushing to get those last minute dinner ingredients.
Look at the people you spend every day of your life with and count them: One, two, three, four… five.
On average, one in every five of those people you see believes that if a woman is intoxicated when she is raped, then she is – at least partly – to blame. That if a man forces himself upon her, insists on sexual intercourse despite her disinclination or protests, she is as fault for being the victim of sexual assault.
Count to six and the statistics gets even more scary. Because one in six Australians also supports the shameful notion that when a woman says ‘no’ to sex, she’s just being playful, teasing, coquettish – and that really she mans ‘yes’.
New nationwide research released by Victorian Health, reveal that Australians’ attitudes to domestic violence and sexual assault are woefully behind the times. While only a very low number of those surveyed say that violence against women is justified, they displayed a lack of understanding about what violence really is and used illegitimate gendered stereotypes to excuse or justify men’s behaviour.
The CEO of VicHealth Jerril Rechter says that while attitudes towards domestic violence and sexual assault have modernised over time, they have mostly remained stagnant since 1995 when this survey was first conducted.
Given the disturbing regularity of assaults against women and their children in Australia, this survey data confirms that despite what we may all like to believe, the Australian culture is one that still permits violence to a certain extent.
Rechter said: “Perhaps most worrying… is that nearly 2/3 (64%) say that violence is caused by men being unable to control their anger. And nearly half (43%) believe men rape because they can’t control their need for sex”.
These shocking misunderstanding of violence in our community must be corrected.
As VicHealth explains, violence is about choice and not about instinct. And it is never, ever, something a woman has ‘invited’ or ‘deserved’.
Here are some Australian and international campaigns aimed at tackling domestic violence. Which do you think is most effective?
The National Sexual Assault, Family and Domestic Violence Counselling Line – 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.