Taking a stand against abuse

Emily AceSouth Western Times

Bunbury will stand united against domestic violence with a march and commemorative service tomorrow as part of the White Ribbon campaign.

The community is encouraged to wear white and assemble outside the Bunbury Regional Art Galleries at 10.30am to march down Victoria Street to Anzac Park.

The march will be followed by a service featuring guest speakers, laying of wreaths by individuals, families and organisations and a minute silence to mourn the lives lost.

On average, one woman is killed every week in Australia as a result of intimate partner violence.

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During the past twelve months there have been five females killed in WA alone.

The White Ribbon campaign aims to recognise the positive role men play in preventing violence against women and effectively changing behaviours of those who condone it.

A domestic violence survivor, who wishes to be referred to as Rebecca to protect her identity, endured 17 years of family and domestic violence – including emotional, financial, verbal and physical abuse.

Rebecca said her message to women suffering from domestic violence is “it is never too late”.

“There are always, always people there who are willing to help you,” she said.

“You look at our children and we have got to give them the best of everything we possibly can.

“Giving them the message that ‘shh don’t talk about it’ is not what’s best for our kids – it’s not OK to be quiet about it and not OK to be silent – we need them to grow up in a world knowing this is not acceptable.”

Rebecca said it is not just the physical violence, but the psychological trauma suffered by women and children which is “enormous”.

“You know you are doing the right thing, but to have the strength to do it and to feel brave enough to do it is a really really hard move.

“There is not a lot of conversation about the psychological and emotional trauma that people suffer.

“I look at what I have been through and what my kids have been through. We are all still going to counselling and post traumatic stress is very real.

“So many of us suffer from it because of what has happened to us in a domestic violence situation.”

Rebecca said it was imperative to have conversations about domestic violence and raise awareness.

“The more people talk about it, the more awareness there is – then comes more funding, then comes more results and we have more survivors.”

South West District Family Protection Coordinator Sgt Don McLean said the march was about striving to create social change through awareness.

“Family violence has had a very public profile over the past three or four years and we are trying to keep the momentum going and asking men in general to stand and not be violent and not be silent,” he said.

Sgt McLean said Domestic violence comes in many forms, including physical, emotional, social and financial.

“A lot of people don’t realise that they are actually in a violent relationship until they sit down with somebody and go through what has been occurring,” he said.

“But if you are being isolated or cut off from family and friends, are having your phone gone through every time you come home or have no access to your own finances, then you are in a violent relationship.”

Sgt McLean if you see something or if you are involved in family violence and need support, contact the police.

“If you can’t have a conversation with a person in a relationship like that, speak to somebody else, speak to the police, speak with a councillor and get some advice about what to do,” he said.

“Part of the message of the campaign to is to not be silent – we are not asking people to put themselves in harm’s way, but make a phone call, report something that is occurring and police for one will act and intervene.”

For support, freecall the Women’s Domestic Violence Hotline on 1800 007 339.

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