Feminism Fodder

Violence against Women…

It’s been four days since my last post…unusual because I had been posting quite regularly. It’s just been a busy week with me doing something every night…three days were non-work related (fitness class, and two social nights — yes, I actually did socialise with live people!) and two days were work-related.

Anyway, on Thursday night, I had to attend an event as part of work which was on awareness of violence against women. It is run every year by the local council of the area I work in. One of the highlights for me was a woman who spoke about her own assault a year ago by a stranger. She did say though that she was one of the lucky ones, despite being bashed nearly to death, since she was able to speak out. She was not afraid because it was a stranger. And unfortunately, majority of the cases of violence against women in Australia are committed by someone we know.

This coupled with the fact that it’s Domestic Violence Awareness week made me decide to write a post on the same.

Domestic Violence, according to the Education Centre Against Violence and NSW Health

is when someone you are in a past or present relationship with:
– Assaults you physically or sexually and/or
– Abuses you verbally, emotionally or psychologically and/or
– Controls all the money and/or
– Stops you from seeing your family or friends
Domestic Violence is when one person in a relationship uses violence or abuse to cause fear and get control over the other person.

We are all taught about Stranger-Danger when we are young. But for some reason, very few of us are told about the dangers that occur within the four walls of one’s own house. And 70% of the crimes against women take place by someone who is known to them. I am ashamed to say that the first time I learnt about DV was in year 11. I think I was vaguely aware of women getting beaten based on what I saw on the telly but I never knew there was an actual term for it. Plus I led a pretty sheltered life. But, as it is said, better late than never.

Through my work with young people over the past two years, I have seen the harsh reality out there. I have seen that not everyone has a sheltered life. I have seen some individuals who have managed to escape and abusive home. But I see some that are stuck in it as well. Furthermore, I have learnt that socio-economic status does not matter. Cultural background does not matter. It’s just that some people are better at hiding what happens in the house than others. Apparently, in Sydney at least, there is a myth among the ‘elite’ suburbs that “this doesn’t happen in our area” — this was mentioned to me at a mandatory training about risk of harm. I was informed that schools in these suburbs believed there was no need for this training as the kids in those schools were from wealthy backgrounds and hence, abuse did not take place. Statistics say something different though.

Going on to the women that stay in an abusive relationship…there are several reasons behind it. Some include financial worries, worry about being a single parent, possible cultural issues and backlash from the family, rationalising the behaviour and even having mental health problems of their own or core beliefs that they deserve what is happening to them. This is the sad reality and I have witnessed it first hand. I have seen women that truly believe their husbands will change and refuse to move out of the situation despite a child being involved. And sometimes, there is nothing the authorities can do either when the woman holds such a belief.

DV has an impact on the children as well…whether or not they are being physically abused. The emotional scars remain. Some of these children go on to have depression or anxiety or PTSD or other mental health problems as a result of living in an insecure, controlling and violent environment. They may take to alcohol, smoking or drugs at an earlier age as a method of coping with the family situation. Some others may learn that this is the norm and use violence themselves to solve their problems.

So the next time you see a friend with a black eye who says she walked into the door, please listen further.

The next time you see a child with broken ribs who says he fell down the stairs, please listen further.

And most importantly, do something about it. Even if it is, calling the authorities or referring them to a professional that can assist further.

Violence against women, Australia says no.

To the men out there, I know intimate partner abuse does occur and that men can be victims too. I’m not being sexist and I acknowledge that men are victims in some cases. It’s just that the number of women, is a lot more. I will make an effort to research on men being victims of partner violence and look into it in another post.

Until next time,


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  • miss carly
    31 October 2009 at 3:05 am

    i like you. think i was in year 11 during my legal studies class. and we were learning about AVO’s and DV.

    to me this is something that is quite prevalent within australian society though because it happens behind closed doors not many people know about it. unless noise escalates. or children speak to their teachers or family members. or bruises are seen on the parent receiving the harsh treatment [i say parent becase females can be known to abuse their male partners and also keeping in mind that there are same-sex couples and i dont want people to think that it cannot happen to either sex].

    me personally though, a close friend of my boyfriend i have just found out that he abuses his girlfriend and she refuses to leave.

    and i am at a lost of what i can say to her to make her realise that even though she has three children to him. that marrying him probably wont make a difference.

    any advice?

  • soin
    31 October 2009 at 3:38 am

    i think ur men research might be tough coz hardly any man would accept a woman assaulted him..coz others will call him a sissy..anyways atleast ur having this much in aus..in r dear india except the four metros other places have no forum as such. and many wife think its ok for the husband to abuse. pathi bakthi..never they turn them in..the urban ladies are enpowered and think so are all the ladies of the country..free

  • Quixotic
    31 October 2009 at 4:40 am

    Great post PB. It’s an important issue and I’m so glad that campaigns like this encourage people to talk about the issue of domestic violence. Hopefully this will beat the stigma of it and help women who feel trapped. I especially agree with the socio-economic point you raised, I think I read somewhere that statistics show men in higher socio-economic positions are actually more likely to use power and control in a relationship.

  • Mahmud
    31 October 2009 at 9:58 am

    Nicely written..
    these are so reality!
    🙁 🙁

  • Titaxy
    31 October 2009 at 3:05 pm

    nice post, PB…sad reality…and you deal with such patients on a regular basis? how stressful that must be!

    i hear of DV here in the news every now and then…but when I think of India, the situation is so worse there…women need to stand up for themselves and get out of such relationships…but the added factor of familt / societal pressure in India is just too bad…

  • Psych Babbler
    31 October 2009 at 9:47 pm

    @ Miss Carly: Thanks 🙂 Re your personal case, sometimes trying to talk to the person is helpful. But if kids are involved (even if they are merely witnesses to the violence) and if you think there is a risk, you can always call up DoCs if your friend is not willing to listen. They won’t know who made a report. Having said that, there have been times I’ve made reports and DoCs tries to intervene but the women have declined any assistance saying that their partner has changed. I guess the best thing is to also try and educate this woman on the effects on her and her children. Usually women are receptive to taking action when children come into the picture. But the sad reality is not all want help. And once you’ve tried what you can, you probably just need to let go with the thought that you’ve tried everything. :/ Oh and you are right about victims in same-sex relationships as well. I need to read up more on the same.

    @ Soin: I think men are generally victims of emotional abuse. Some women can be good manipulators. But I have met one case where the woman was physically abusive towards her child and husband and unfortunately men don’t have much support out there. Plus you have to think about same-sex relationships like Miss Carly mentioned. In India, the issue is far more complex because it tends to be accepted as the norm based on some age-old traditions that have been misinterpreted. But from reading other blogs, it sounds like things are changing…at least in the urban areas for a start.

    @ Mahmud: Thank you 🙂 I know…it’s sad that things like this happen every single day in the world around us. Some of us here are so lucky we don’t realise it.

    @ Titaxy: Thanks…I tend to deal with kids that are in abusive homes or have been every now and then. It’s not as bad as one of my friends who works in the child protection field. I tend to work with kids that come to me with mental health problems as a result of growing up in such households. And yes, sometimes I think women need to do their own bit as well and learn that men have no right to abuse them physically, emotionally or sexually. And you are right in that the family pressure in India makes it worse for women there…

  • Sidthegnomenator
    31 October 2009 at 11:41 pm

    You constantly amaze me, PB – it has never before occurred to me that someone from a past relationship can still commit domestic violence against you? And who ever imagined that not allowing you to see your friends is domestic violence? But of course it is – this is probably why so many women put up with, because they just don’t consider it “bad enough” to be domestic violence.

  • magiceye
    1 November 2009 at 1:19 am

    very well delineated…
    dv is something that is as bad and dangerous a scourge like aids or plague but brushed under the carpet all the time..

  • ani_aset
    3 November 2009 at 11:29 am

    Well done PB for such a thoughtful post on a very important topic.

  • Anonymous
    16 November 2009 at 12:50 am


  • Nu
    2 February 2010 at 10:52 am

    This made to the final selection for voting 🙂 Good Luck