Trigger Warning: This post deals with issues of domestic violence and may be triggering for survivors of abuse.
Violence against women is a global epidemic – and in Australia, about one-third of women will experience some form of violence at the hands of a current or former partner.
One in three.
With that staggering figure in mind, we were desperate to find practical, positive ideas that might go some way to solving the omnipresent, horrific threat of violence against women.
So today, we offer up six ways other people are trying to reverse the alarming rate of domestic violence.
They are proof that feeling helpless is not our only option- and that there IS more we can and should be doing to protect women.
1. Panic buttons for when perpetrators are nearby.
In Brazil, panic buttons with GPS tracking are given to domestic violence victims who obtain restraining orders against their abusers. The devices, once pressed, quickly signal to authorities that a victim needs help, transmit images that help police track down the perpetrator, and even record and store audio for later police use.
The Australian government funded a program trial for a similar button called “B-safe” in Australia a few years ago – but sadly, the program was never renewed after the trial’s completion in 2011.
Rachael McKay, a B-Safe project officer, told 7.30 in 2011 that the program, which won an Australian Crime and Violence Prevention Award, “reduced breaches of intervention orders.”
“It’s actually reduced physical assaults against more than half of the 72 women. None of the children have been assaulted during that three-year period,” Ms McKay said.
Luckily, a similar proposal is now being considered in NSW and WA, with Community Services and Family Minister Pru Goward having recently suggested the introduction of compulsory GPS tracking bracelets for offenders.
2. Programs that prepare abused women to re-enter the workforce.
Eighty-five percent of women who leave an abusive relationship return, with financial dependence on the perpetrator remaining a significant factor in the perpetuation of that cycle.
As Forbes explains, barriers to leaving for good include:
… Having at least one dependent child, not being employed outside of the home, possessing no property that is solely theirs, and lacking access to cash or bank and credit accounts. For these reasons it is very likely that many of these women would experience a decline in living standards and security of life for themselves and their children if they were to leave their partner.
International charity Dress for Success helps to break that cycle by providing professional clothes, a support network and career development tools that build women’s economic independence.
Abused women are referred to the service by non-profit and government agencies including homeless shelters, and are given a suit and accessories on their first visit; when they get a job, they’re given enough clothes to form the foundation for a full professional wardrobe.