Malcolm Turnbull writes for Mamamia about his experience at Bondi Beach Cottage, a domestic violence help centre for women and children.
I have said before how commendable their work is and I was reminded again how challenging it can be. We should all be grateful that there are people in our community who choose to work in this field and help women during such difficult times.
Bondi Beach Cottage provides specialised case management, counselling and art therapy for women and children experiencing domestic violence in Wentworth.
Often the women who come to them are not yet able to identify that they are suffering domestic violence. If they have not been hit, if they don’t have bruises, they wonder how to label what they are enduring.
We know now that domestic violence takes many forms and includes psychological and emotional abuse, controlling behaviour including through financial power. One is not worse than the other – all are signs of disrespect for women.
Some women attending the Bondi Beach Cottage inevitably ask, why me? Is it my fault? BBC case managers can help women understand that they are not to blame for the abuse they suffer, but that there are real things they can do to change their situation. They educate women about what healthy relationships look like and what their rights are, giving them invaluable tools to protect themselves from future harm.
One of the more confronting messages for me was that women who have experienced domestic violence experience symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Many have been exposed to life-threatening situations and as a result suffer serious and debilitating anxiety and depression. Domestic violence follows its victims in the long term and affects every aspect of their lives. It impairs their functioning and relationships with other partners, their parenting, their ability to trust and their self-esteem, confidence and communication skills.