While awareness for and action against domestic violence is increasing, there are still women being left behind.
More and more women are feeling encouraged to come forward with their stories and to seek help.
However hurdles such as culture, faith and social status can affect women’s decisions and abilities to find the support they need.
Women from minority groups are often left unaddressed in domestic violence campaigns, which leaves many without support.
The Queensland Says Enough Rally held in Brisbane saw speakers demand an end to violence inflicted on women and children from overlooked minority groups. There was a sense of togetherness in the crowd as families and friends embraced as speakers opened up their hearts.
Ethnic Communities Council director, Yasmin Khan is determined to see religious leaders support women regardless of their faith and help them get out of violent relationships, rather than allowing them to be overlooked.
“It just goes to show that domestic violence has no colour or social status or income level or geography or religion,” Ms Khan said.
Ms Khan believes that if anything, women of faith need increased support because domestic violence is not being addressed in a helpful way from some religious leaders.
“It’s not suggesting that any faith is more prone to domestic violence than any other or that any faith has more perpetrators than any other, I’m talking about all faiths,” Ms Khan said.
“Religious women tend to suffer in silence and look for a religious perspective on their trials and tribulations and their first point of call may well be their religious leader.”
Ms Khan called on religious leaders to empower their inner strength and consider how to console and guide women who come to them.
“I say to religious leaders, don’t turn away a woman in distress with prayers and platitudes,” Ms Khan insisted.
“Don’t send a woman back to an abusive relationship because that’s her lot in life… this is not God’s plan.”
Many women can tell you that although working on a marriage is important, one which is abusive will only do more harm.
“We understand that the sanctity of the family is important… and we understand that you may be reluctant to advise a victim to move out,” Ms Khan said.
“However an abusive relationship does not bode anyone well.”
Ms Khan stressed the choice to protect women and ensured listening to God’s wishes could and should be one in the same.
“There are no religious texts or faith practices that suggests women have to endure abuse or subjugation,” Ms Khan said.
“Religious leaders have a dual responsibility one to their congregation and their community, and one to their god.”
Ms Khan said the motives which faith leaders use to persuade women to stay with their abusive partners is not good enough.
“God tells you to look after the weak and the vulnerable and families and abusive households are weak and vulnerable,” Ms Khan said.
“We don’t want to hear from broken families that say that their religious leaders encouraged them to stay as a family unit otherwise the community will talk.
“Women of faith are no less worthy of help from our service providers than any other and our religious leaders should be encouraging them to seek that help.”
Ms Khan’s concerns and views coincide with occurrences of domestic violence in Nauru.
The female asylum seekers in Nauru are lacking the assistance they so desperately need, with no change appearing on the horizon.
Greens candidate and White Ribbon ambassador, Ben Pennings also spoke at the rally and implored influential politicians to involve their time and resources to change the law, so we can intervene and help women in Nauru.
“Unfortunately one of the new barriers to talking about violence is a legal one,” Mr Pennings said.
“It’s a situation where doctors, where teachers, where lawyers, where security guards want to talk about the violence in Nauru, but aren’t allowed to do that because they’ll end up in jail.”
The lack of influence political parties have in Nauru is embarrassing and there needs to be something done immediately to stop the violence.
“As far as I’m concerned that is a primly legal embarrassment on our country,” Mr Pennings said.
“In the last week many of us have been fighting for a young woman, who has survived rape in Nauru to be able to come to get appropriate medical treatment in Australia.
“We had to fight for it, we had to push for it.
“It’s not good enough and so I call on politician’s here from both parties to go and change that law… It has to be done.”
After dusk, the community lined up to lay roses in remembrance of women and children who unnecessarily lost their lives to violence.
However sadly some women have not had the same opportunities for support from the community.
Hopefully rally’s like this one can play at least a small role in altering society’s attitudes surrounding domestic violence, by spreading awareness and educating the community through speakers such as Yasmin Khan and Ben Pennings.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing domestic violence in any capacity you should reach out for support.
In an emergency dial 000