Family Violence Advocacy
Family violence is an insidious disease that effects families and individuals regardless of education, economic standing or residential location. As a survivor of generational family violence I understand that advocacy and spreading awareness is paramount to helping to rid the world of family violence.
I proudly stand with Safe Steps - Family Violence Response Centre as an advocate for the prevention of family violence.
For More Information - Visit the Safe Steps Website
Safe steps - Family Violence Response Centre is an organisation dedicated to the advocacy and prevention of family violence in
Safe Steps is also a valuable resource for women fleeing family violence. If you or anyone you know is experiencing family violence please contact safe steps for a confidential discussion.
Toll Free 24/7 Response Line: 1800 015 188
It's Not your fault
When stuck in an abusive relationship it doesn't take long to start rationalising the behaviour of the other person and shouldering the blame ourselves. "If only I were good enough", "If only I could be what they want" or "If I was able to make them happy this wouldn't happen." are all thought that take over leaving the victim with the profound belief that what is happening is all their fault and that they somehow have the power to change how the other person thinks, feels and behaves.
The thing is that nothing you can do will "fix" the other person. This is a defect in them not something that is wrong with you.
If you are in a situation like this it can be very difficult to separate yourself from what is happening and see that you are the victim.
Just know that anything that is happening is NOT your fault and you do not have to lose yourself trying to make someone else happy - it's not in your power to do so anyway. It is not your responsibility to make sure someone else's life is perfect and you don't have to cop abuse because you refuse.
If you are too scared to be yourself or refuse to succumb to the whims of an abuse partner because they may react violently, get out NOW!
None of this is your fault and you do not have to expose yourself to it any longer.
You have the courage
When your stuck in an abusive relationship, your self esteem suffers, you lose your sense of self, your ability to trust your judgement and your ability to see that things can get better.
Even when you have made the realisation that you are in a toxic relationship, fear can keep us imprisoned in the situation and make it harder to escape.
Fear of having to make a decision for oneself, fear of living independently, fear of the unknown, fear of the partners reaction, fear of having no support from friends and family and fear of the stigma experienced by survivors in the past are just some of what we can experience when trying to leave these situations.
Quell the fear by making a plan for yourself, reach out to others, make sure someone trusted knows your plans, talk to the police and shelters such as SAFE STEPS to put together a safety plan and follow through with your plan.
In those moments when you feel yourself weaken just know that you are strong enough to do this!
After all you had the strength to make it this far in your situation. You have had the courage to keep trying and to stay where you are in danger each and every day.....You most certainly have the courage to get help and get out.
Help is out there
There is help out there!!!!!!!!!
You do not have to suffer in silence and go through it alone. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to get out now there are resources you can lean on to get yourself out right now.
If you are in immediate danger please call 000 (or your local emergency services in your area). The police department now have specific trams of officers dedicated to family violence who are well trained to recognise situations and help you get the help you need at the time.
Agencies such as SAFE STEPS can help you to come up with a plan, know what you need to take with you, put in safety protocols and get you a safe place to stay while you work out more permanent arrangements for yourself all with a phone call.
When you make contact with an agency such as this you will talk to an experienced liason officer who can guide you through the steps to to get to safety.
These resources are thorough and swift and can have you to safety in no time and are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.
What is abuse
The definition of what consitutes abuse stands as - "any behaviour which causes a person to fear for there safety"
The landscape of what is abuse and what shouldn't be tolerated is constantly changing as society changes and more and more hurtful behaviour becomes unacceptable.
A few short decades ago it was acceptable for a man to "own" his wife and punish her in any way deemed fit for any perceived slight.
Then a change occurred and it became unaccptable to react in a physical way and a light was shone on physical violence.
Now it is becoming clear that you don't have to hurt someone physically in order for abuse to be present.
There are many different kinds of abuse which don't have to be tolerated;
Why Abuse Happens
Often a perpetrator of family violence carries with them a sense of entitlement that they believe gives them the right to do what they want to other people. This sense of entitlement can come from several different places.
Pre- programmed thinking - Often times, the life experiences of an abusive person have led to pre- programmed, sub conscious reactions which they don't feel the need to examine or change in any way. The way thy have seen situations be dealt with in the past have led them to the belief that this is an acceptable way to handle this situation.
Culture- There is a culture that exists in society that sexist and abusive remarks, jokes and pranks are acceptable. In some cultures it is still acceptable to use physical punishment to reprimand a wife. In these instances culture has given them the idea that what they are doing is acceptable.
The perpetrators own beliefs and values have lead them to believe that what they are doing is acceptable and that they have the right to......because....... (insert given excuse here).
Please understand that you can not "fix" an abusive person. More likely they will see others as the source of the issue and will not see an issue with their behaviour and will therefore not change.
if you see something say something
Often victims of family violence are living in a state of denial or may have had their personal power stripped away so that they no longer have the courage to speak out or to get away from their situation. If you see a situation where someone is being mistreated don't stand by and just let it happen. there are several things you can do;
-Tell the abuser that what they are doing is not acceptable - let them n=know that you know and are keeping an eye on them.
-Let the victim know that what is happening to them is unacceptable and that if they need help you can be there for them
-call the authorities and report the incident so that if and when the victim reaches out, there is already a trail of evidence for them.
Immigrants and Family Violence
Family violence happens in all walks of life including nationalities.
We live in an era where we are welcoming immigrants to our country from all over the world. These people come to this country with their own pre-programmed ideas about what is acceptable behaviour for them to partake in.
The same as in western relationship some of these people are in relationship which are toxic and abusive and not acceptable in this country.
Particularly referring to women from countries where these behaviours are acceptable, they may not realise or have the strength to get help and get out once they are here so as a nation it is our responsibility to ensure that this is not acceptable behaviour regardless of their nationality of origin.
I have heard arguements from Australian nationals who have witnessed family violence in muslim families that they are powerless to do anything to help because they believe that what they witnessed was sharia law.
This was not sharia law because we do not have sharia law in this country. What they witnessed was family violence the same as if they had seen the same events among a western family and they have the same resources available to them as any western family in this situation so next time you witness something like this, Don;t turn the other cheek, let them know that what they are doing is unacceptable.
Renay’s Story - As seen on safe steps anniversatry celebration
I grew up in an environment that led me to believe anger was a normal response to anything. If something went wrong, someone was to blame and that person should “cop it”.
My mum struggled with mental health issues and when things were particularly bad for her she would take it out on me and my siblings. I would get beaten for simply putting too much milk in my cereal.
I recognised the physical abuse as wrong and resented her for it, but as a child, I didn’t understand that her screaming and breaking things were also abuse. I thought yelling and threats were just part of life.
So when I grew up and got a boyfriend who was emotionally and psychologically abusive I had no idea that our relationship wasn’t “normal”.
When I think back on it, it seems obvious that his behaviour was manipulative and controlling – he would stone wall me, hid my belongings, isolated me, orchestrate arguments and use childish tactics to get his way. He would also blame me for everything – all the problems in our relationship were “my fault”, a result of my shortcomings.
For ten years I truly believed this. I whole-heartedly thought that the relationship was flawed because I was flawed. I stayed, not realising just what I was experiencing. Never did it occur to me that I was being abused – after all, it’s not like he was hitting me.
Even now, I have a hard time identifying as someone who experienced family violence because I don’t feel “abused enough” because the violence in my intimate partner relationship was only occasionally physical. Sometimes I feel like I have no right to stand up and speak out because I have no visible scars left behind by the family violence I endured, therefore it can be hard to see what damage was done to me.
When I left…
Since leaving my ex I have come to realise that the abuses that he committed against me on a daily basis were very real and deserve attention. Emotional and psychological abuse is not something anyone should have to go through and yet I am far from alone in having had experiences like this – one in three women will experience a non-physical form of family violence in their lifetime.
I am still living with the impacts of abuse. I battle anxiety attacks, anger issues, social phobia and other cognitive disorders which hamper my ability to live life properly, the way that I would like to live it.
Issues that were seeded as a child and left me vulnerable to abuse as an adult still affect me every day.
I am particularly aware of how I am as a parent. Sometimes I feel compelled to react to my children’s misbehaviours by yelling or getting overly angry (mirroring some of my mother’s and ex’s reactions) but I am also conscious of this and work hard to behave better than they did. I don’t want to pass on my learned behaviours to my kids.
I believe that all forms of violence create an environment that breeds further violence and steps need to be taken to prevent the intergenerational cycle of family violence from perpetuating any further.
This is a key reason I chose to become an advocate and share my story – to raise awareness and be part of the effort to ensure that, for our children’s children, family violence is a thing of the past.
As an advocate…
Becoming a Survivor Advocate has helped me to rise above fear, doubt and mental health issues and recover from my experiences. It has been so rewarding getting to meet so many other survivors who are all such inspirational, courageous women.
But it has also showed me how far reaching family violence is and how much this issue still needs to be highlighted – ignorance and denial surrounding the existence and reach of emotional abuse is alive and well. We must educate adults to understand what constitutes violence and raise our children to know who they are with a strong sense of self awareness.
To anyone reading this who is experiencing abuse…
I would say, you have the right to be safe and take whatever measures you need to for that to happen. There is help available – and not just help that will support you to get away from the violence, but also organisations and programs to help you recover from what you’ve gone through and move on into a complete and full life.
You’re stronger than you know and you can choose how your story ends.
To the broader community…
We all need to understand that family violence impacts lives for generations, but we as a society have the power to stop it. All of us must stand up against all forms of abuse and break the cycle here and now.