What do you do when a friend suggests that women that get stuck in domestic violence situations should know better? That the issue was theirs because the warning signs were there, yet they chose to stay?
This happened to me a couple of months back and as someone who has continually witnessed and has been a victim of domestic violence myself, I did not know whether to be angry, sad or simply ashamed
I argued that domestic violence is not a black and white issue, that it is human nature after years of being silently manipulated and belittled to start believing what you are being told. That these women and men are scared for their lives and are afraid of leaving and becoming one of the haunting statistics of domestic violence in Australia.
The cold hard facts are simply this:
- On average, at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia*
- One in three Australian women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15*
- One in four Australian women has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner*
So, what exactly is domestic violence? According to the Women’s Legal Service it is “the repeated use of violent and abusive tactics to maintain power and control over the other person in a relationship”.
It may include (amongst other things)
: screaming, name calling, criticism and put downs
: any behaviour that threatens, intimidates or humiliates
: any forced or unwanted sexual contact
: dictating what the victim does, who they see, where they go
Economic or financial Abuse:
withholding or threating to withhold money or refusing and denying access to money
Although my friend obviously has the luxury of having an unwavering belief in themself, along with lacking any level of empathy, I hope the rest of us take a more human approach. There are so many reasons why a person may choose to stay in a relationship despite the long-term damage it may cause. Below are just some of the reasons given for staying, and I hope they give you more of an understanding of the seriousness of the situation.
- There may be threats of violence against the victim, their family and children if they choose to leave.
- They victim may honestly believe that they are the reason this abuse is happening and that it is their problem to fix it. I know it sounds unbelievable, but abusers repeatedly blame their victims for their abusive behaviour until they become convinced it is their issue.
- Abusers quite often isolate their victims, leaving them with no support network. With nowhere to go and no financial means to support themselves the victim is left feeling nothing but a sense of hopelessness
- Social denial: quite often abusers are charismatic and popular and victims fear that no one will believe them.
As someone who still wears the emotional scars of an abusive relationship I implore you to take a step back and not judge someone based on the fact that you have not experienced abuse yourself. After 11 years of being happily married to an amazing man who has never been anything other than supportive, self-doubt and feelings of worthlessness still exist and are still very real. As is abuse.
For this very reason, I am proud to say that on Saturday the 7th
of October 2017, the watts
next team are running to support two amazing charities.
Funds raised will go to RizeUp Australia
to support a program delivered to families fleeing domestic violence, that assists children to raise their self-esteem and assist families in rebuilding their lives after they have sought refuge.
Funds will also go to the Women’s Legal Service
Helpline which is the first point of contact for 3,200 women per year. Sadly in 2015, due to lack of resources, 16,000 calls went unanswered.
To check out our teams’ progress or to support one of our amazing team members you can find us at
For those local to the area, feel free to register and join us for the run or come along and offer some much-needed support - we are after all HR specialists, not elite athletes!
We hope to see you all at the finish line and have you join us as we stand up and say NO to Domestic Violence.
Michelle Henry, Operations Manager
Michelle has over 21 years experience working specifically in operations, marketing & staff development. She has held numerous senior positions, most recently as General Manager. Her skills include high-level communication & resource management, together with the unique ability to improve efficiencies within organisations. She is progressive by nature and is client focussed.
* Statistic copied from www.domesticviolence.com.au
* Women’s legal service http://www.wlsq.org.au
Image courtesy of FrameAngel at FreeDigitalPhotos.net