As prominent Australia fashion designer/model Jodhi Meares goes through a very public fight with her fiance, we’re reminded that domestic abuse can happen in any postcode.
Trigger warning: This post deals with domestic violence and may be triggering for some readers.
Every time a celebrity is attacked by their partner or in their home, it proves that domestic violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, any time.
Jodhi Meares’ fiance, Jon Stevens, will appear in court today following a violent incident at their home in Point Piper on Monday evening. He has been charged with assault and police are applying for an interim AVO against him to protect Meares. Meares says there is no history of violence in their relationship.
This incident is obviously painful for the people directly and intimately involved. But it’s also a painful reminder to the community that domestic and intimate partner violence occurs in every class, culture, and community and that the privileges of fame and fortune do not inoculate against gender-based violence.
As Australian of the Year Rosie Batty so aptly says, “Family violence happens to everybody. No matter how nice your house is, how intelligent you are. It can happen to anyone, and everyone.”
And yet, people hold onto the false belief that domestic violence is primarily born out of poverty and lack of education. They imagine it as an issue that plagues the lower and working classes, but is atypical and unusual in upper middle class homes.
Imagining it this way makes people feel safer at night to believe that their homes, and the homes of their friends, neighbours, colleagues and relatives, are protected. It’s the most convenient way to frame a complex, frightening issue.
And most of all, they imagine it, because as a community, we still fundamentally misunderstand what causes gender-based violence in the first place.
It’s woefully unhelpful to frame the perpetrators of abuse as lower-class, uneducated, and possibly dealing with drug or addiction. It’s equally unhelpful to imagine victims as unintelligent, uneducated or un-resourceful.
I’ve known feminist women with PhDs who have experienced relationship abuse.
I’ve known professional, high achieving women who sit on boards and run meetings, who go home to husbands who check their email, phone, and kilometres on their car, before bursting into jealous, accusatory rages.