It seems every time I go on Facebook, open my email or watch the news these days there’s another domestic violence story. This is triggering for me because, well, any of those stories could have been about me. I survived a violent and abusive relationship and while it is something I have dealt with emotionally, these news stories just keep reminding me of the chilling fact, how close I came to being another statistic.
Before I begin my own story, let me just throw some actual statistics your way. According to the ABS personal safety survey (2005), one in four women will experience domestic violence of some degree in their lifetime. That’s a quarter of all Australian women. 25%. (According to the latest ABS statistics that figure is now 1 in 3). Here are some more:
- Women are more likely to experience violence from someone they know, than from a stranger. For men the reverse is true.
- For women who have experienced violence since the age of 15, 36% was by someone they knew vs. 12% by a stranger.
- For men, the statistics are 35% by a stranger, 26% by someone they know.
- For men the someone they know is most likely to be an acquaintance or neighbour. For women, it is most likely to be a partner or ex-partner.
- Both women and men are more likely to experience violence by a male perpetrator.
- One woman a week is murdered by an intimate male partner, or ex partner.
- At the time of writing (March 3rd, 2015) 15 women have already been murdered at the hands of a partner or ex-partner.
I’ll just let those sobering facts sink in for a moment.
Unfortunately, facts alone are not enough to get government to take this terrible state of affairs seriously enough, although just recently there are signs that awareness is finally making some headway. The naming of domestic violence survivor Rosie Batty as Australian of the Year is a step in the right direction and recently Q & A did a special on domestic violence. These are all positive steps. Yet, the current government’s funding cuts to community services have meant that many front line services are struggling with to keep up with demand. This is not positive and counter-intuitive to say the least.
It is a very heartbreaking reality that little girls, such as myself, grow up dreaming of meeting their ‘prince charming’. We are fed a steady diet of fairy-tales, romantic notions, and mainstream TV depictions of perfect family life. The reality for many women however, is so different. No-one expects to end up in a relationship that is abusive and violent. Yet the statistics are such that someone you know, someone you work with or went to school with, someone in your apartment block is probably living a nightmare right now.
There has been a lot of media attention given to terrorism of late, however, this article Domestic violence deserves the same attention as terrorism, links intimate partner violence with terrorism and points out its similarities, of which there are a few.
We need to address the causes of all violence in society as whole and see that they are all linked and instead of asking women why they stay, it’s time to ask, Why do men attack the women that love them?
Some articles for further reading and sources of statistics to do with domestic violence: