We live in a world where if you break your arm, everyone runs over to sign your cast. But if you tell people you’ve experienced violence at the hands of a sexual partner, everyone runs the other way.
As a 20-year-old female, it’s an abhorrent thought that in this day and age, women of all races, ages, religion and socioeconomic backgrounds are still affected by domestic violence.
This conversation got me thinking, how many more mothers, doctors, teachers, cooks, lawyers, and secretaries have to be killed before sexism and misogyny is deemed more important on the national political and public agenda?
Alison Baden-Clay, Jill Meagher, and Stephanie Scott are just a handful of the beautiful and successful women we shouldn’t know of, but will never be forgotten.
Griffith University lecturer in domestic violence law Zoe Rathus said misogyny is not the same as violence between intimate partners.
She said misogyny is about feeling threatened by the advancement of women in contemporary times.
“There is no such thing as misogynist relationships. there are misogynist men who may be in a relationship with a woman.
“Misogyny is demonstrated when men assume that women are stupid about driving, or maths or holding responsible jobs, and when they say things that link women’s biology to intelligence and ability,” Ms Rathus said.
It seems instructive to reference former Prime Minister Julia Gillard whose endurance was owed to her representation of the eternal struggle between being female, unmarried and childless.
Australian woman in intuitions of power are entitled to a better standard than this.
I am a feminist because I want my future daughter to have as much opportunity as my son. I am a feminist because impossible standards of beauty are placed on young women. I am a feminist because it bothers me that a woman gets killed by her male partner every single week, and somehow that doesn’t qualify as a national crisis.
Our Watch is a Melbourne based initiative driving nation-wide change in the culture, behaviours and attitudes that lead to violence against women and children.
Our Watch Media and Communications Officer Joanna Cooney said gender inequality and rigid adherence to gender roles and stereotypes is the core of the problem and the heart of the solution.
“Generally speaking, the vast majority of acts of domestic and family violence are perpetrated by men against women,” Ms Cooney said.
“Being a ‘strong’ man is highly aspirational. Many young men think that being a ‘strong man’ or being masculine means they need to show physical strength, or tell their partners what to do.
“At first glance some of these behaviours may not seem violent or controlling, but they’re poisonous for relationships and can be damaging for the person on the receiving end.”
Ms Cooney said verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical violence, ‘branding’, controlling behaviour and harassment are all forms of disrespect, violence and abuse. These also include:
- Checking up’ on their partner by going through their text messages, social media, diary or possessions.
- Calling or texting several times each day to check up on their partner, following them or dropping in on them unexpectedly.
- Always making the ‘important decisions’ on behalf of the both of you.
- Always being the one who initiates sex.
- Pressuring them to not see particular people, e.g. friends or family or being nasty or criticising their friends so they won’t hang around their partner anymore
- Criticising or belittling them for the things they enjoy, e.g. TV shows, music, hobbies.
- Telling them what they should or shouldn’t do/say/wear.
- Playing mind-games by saying one thing then doing another, lying or tricking them.
- Using emotional blackmail to get their way
- Using passive-aggressive behaviours such as ignoring them or refusing to talk to them.
“From an early age, gender inequality has been ingrained in the medias portrayal of women, pornography and, porn-inspired popular culture,” Ms Cooney said.
The eroctic film 50 Shades of Grey perpetuates misogynistic behaviours, and even makes women believe these character traits are to be admired in a man.
Our Watch’s goal is teach young Australians respect is the basis of all good relationships.
“We must address inequalities in power, challenge deeply ingrained attitudes and social norms so this issue is no longer justified, excused or hidden,” Ms Cooney said.
“Equality must be at the heart of all discussions about healthy and respectful relationships. Without equality, love is about acceptance, caring is confused with controlling, and trust becomes ownership.”
So far this year, 62 women have been killed at the hands of a sexual partner in Australia.
The Brisbane Womens Club (BWC) is a centre for like-minded women to exercise progressive leadership around issues of public importance, support projects aimed at improving the lives of women, and to mentor and guide younger women to achieve equal participation in the social, cultural, political and economic arenas.
President Robin Francis said the club is committed to supporting women affected by domestic violence.
“We provide opportunities for abused women to tell their stories, not only of abuse and victimisdation; but of hope, recovery and prevention,” Ms Francis said.
“Our wish is for businesses, governments, not-for-profit organisaitions and the community at large to take responsibility for raising awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence in Queensland.”
Over the years, BWC have hosted multiple fundraising events to break the cycle of domestic violence. In 2009, BWC partnered up with DV Connect and the RSPCA for an initiative called “Pets in Crisis” – a program that helped women leaving a violent home to also have a refuge for their pets. This year, the club raised $20,000 on behalf of the Women’s Legal Service to support those trying to escape abusive relationships, and are currently planning an art exhibition, with the theme of hope and recovery focusing on the transformation from victimisation to freedom from violence.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence in any capacity you should reach out for support.
In an emergency dial 000