Opinion: Time to speak up on violence against women this White Ribbon Day
If you see something, say something — it’s the simple message of the White Ribbon organisation, but one rarely acted upon.
This message will be at the forefront of Busselton’s first White Ribbon Day march, specifically directed at teenage boys, and I for one commend the South West Capes committee for pushing the event to young men.
Statistics show one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner, and when I was just 18 years old I almost became part of that statistic at the hands of my high school boyfriend.
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For anyone who knows me, the idea that I allowed someone to touch me is surprising, but back then I thought it was normal and I deserved to face the repercussions of my actions.
When I was driving us home from a night out, he used my head to smash the driver’s side window.
I believed him when he told me I made him angry. I don’t remember what I did, maybe I breathed wrong — that deserved a slap once.
I celebrated my graduation, my acceptance to law school, moving out of home and my 18th birthday in a mentally, emotionally, and physically abusive relationship and more, truly believing it was normal.
People knew it was happening. I might be clumsy, but there’s only so many times a girl can arrive at the club covered in bruises before you stop believing them.
So why did people keep believing me for more than a year?
one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner.
When it happened again in Kalgoorlie last year, with yet another boy who used violence as a means to an end and rationalised it in his mind, I finally made a stand and took him to court. He choked me outside a local watering hole because his new catch didn’t like me ... because I had a friend who was another boy. How dare I!
Unlike when I was 18, this man and his peers were in their late 20s, and some in their 30s. They know what happened, and there’s no excuse to stand by him. Yet they still do.
This is a major issue when it comes to domestic abuse. We are alone. We are isolated. We believe we deserve it. If you see something, say something.
Just because these violent men are the fun larrikin at the pub, or the class clown making the sexist “joke”, or even the stand-up business professional, it does not mean they are not capable of violence and should get a pass — especially as they get older. Unlike so many women, I have the ability to speak up. You have the ability to speak up. Publicly calling someone out is powerful. Bad people will always exist, but often, these kinds of people do it in secret. Don’t allow those secrets to continue. These women need your voice. Your voice could save a life.
Better to be wrong than to stand idly by.
1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
Sexual Assault Counselling Australia: 1800 211 028
WA Sexual Assault Resource Centre: 6458 1828 or 1800 199 888 (free call from landlines)
Lifeline: 13 11 14
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