I want to see change as victims should not be silenced, ignored or blamed. I want to see a family violence system which does not fail victim/survivors.
I am a victim and survivor of family violence in all its forms. For years, the fear of leaving outweighed the fear of staying. A tiny but significant moment of clarity catapulted me into unknown territory where I embraced fear and uncertainty to strive for a life free from violence.
Family violence is about control of another human being which erodes ones sense of self, causing immense fear-nothing more, nothing less. This is why as a society we need to question why we hold rigid views about the roles of women and men which create unhelpful stereotypes. Gender equality and structural power imbalances between women and men including sexist attitudes all contribute to the perpetration of violence against women.
I was hugely ashamed, as an educated woman involved in human rights work the irony was not lost on me as I came to realise that family violence can happen to anyone and it had happened to me. It took a patient member of the Victorian police force to explain to me the cycle I had lived through for years. It was a bitter pill to swallow. I was not born a statistic, I was someone with dreams, aspirations and a career. I am every woman you know, a daughter, a sister, a niece, a mother. At this juncture, I was no longer sure who I was.
The physical separation from the perpetrator propelled me into a system which was bewildering to navigate. The experience was surreal; I was the pinball in an arcade pinball machine wondering where I would end up next. There was a huge onus placed on myself to ensure my personal safety, all whilst trying to survive emotionally, psychologically, physically and financially.
The government accepted 227 recommendations in March 2016 via the Royal Commission on Family Violence. This is our call to action.
Change starts with the recognition that family violence is a crime, it is pervasive, it harms our community and it is an issue which we need to talk about as violence against women is everyone’s issue and is preventable. I believe I can contribute to change with people who like myself genuinely want to create a different culture with relation to family violence whereby we focus on prevention as opposed to reaction.
My lived experience of family violence for a long time robbed me of so much, but I have my voice back and victim/survivors’ voices are central to reform.