I’m a collector of stories. The tales I gather are heart-breaking, raw, devastating chronicles of domestic violence survival.
Since February, I’ve criss-crossed Queensland, meeting, photographing and gathering the words of women who have endured every kind of physical, sexual and emotional abuse that you can imagine.
I have sat with mothers who have lost their unborn babies after their abusers have beaten them.
I have watched proud, strong females weep as they relived the first time they were raped.
I have been lost for words as complete strangers described what it’s like to have someone crush your windpipe until you waiver on that very fine line between life and death.
I’ve seen police officers, nurses, social workers, single mothers, personal trainers, grandmothers, business women… women from every walk of life blush with embarrassment as they told me what THEY did to set their abusers off.
And at the heart of all of these stories are violent, misogynistic, selfish, narcissistic men with absolutely no respect for women and every belief that they were never to blame for their abusive behaviour.
I run The RED HEART Campaign, which shares stories of domestic violence survival, supports women in domestic violence crisis and publishes the latest news and information relating to the epidemic that has killed more than approximately 30 Australian women so far this year.
This means I spend a lot of time reading about domestic violence.
Late last week, while looking for articles to post on the Campaign site, I stumbled onto a social media offering by writer Clementine Ford.
A screenshot of a Facebook post caught my eye. It was from the secret Facebook page Blokes Advice.
“Righto lads I need a hand putting this minga in her place,” I read. “Now what I’m asking is (for you) to send her the most fucked up shit you can think of.”
My stomach turned and my heart dropped as I saw the author inciting his readers to send images of their genitals to the woman in a supplied picture. The man had even supplied the woman’s phone number.
After a little more rummaging around and I found more posts of the same nature from BA members. All of them had common themes - encouraging others to commit rape and domestic violence.
Each post displayed precisely the same disrespect and devaluation of women that gives legitimacy to every one of the abusers in the domestic violence survival stories I’ve collected over the past year.
On Monday evening I started a Change.Org petition, “Facebook - It’s time to shut Blokes Advice down”.
So far, more than 4000 people have signed the petition and eventually it will be sent to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.