I know a lot of women who have experienced domestic violence from a male partner during their lifetime. This thought came to me abruptly this morning and it’s not something I’ve realised before.
How is that even possible?
I live in Australia, an ostensibly advanced and free country, yet so many women I know have been affected by this scourge.
Some have fled their homes, their state or even the country to escape their abusers. Restraining orders abound. The courts and the police are often helpful but sometimes their assistance isn’t enough.
The women I’m talking about have sometimes been abused in an overtly physical way – raped, punched or bruised – making it easier to provide evidence to the authorities. But often the abuse is far more insidious and delivered through denigrating commentary and gaslighting that makes women doubt their every move and feel they have to report back to their partner constantly.
How is this still happening?
I am a feminist but I don’t believe all men are the enemy. I know many good, strong, kind men.
Yet, there are men who are inflicting this violence so those individuals are to blame. Men need to stop trying to control women. Men need to understand that women are equal and to be respected and that we are not just an extension of you. Men need to know that no means no, and to respect that always.
Fathers need to teach their sons these lessons strongly and model them clearly. Mothers need to teach their sons that they are not the centre of the universe and women are not mere appendages to bend to their will and keep them happy at all costs. All girls need to be taught they are entitled to be treated with respect at all times and they (and their bodies) are not a possession for any man.
Men need to call out their male colleagues, friends and strangers on abusive behaviours and make it clear it’s not acceptable. Women need to say to other women, I can see you’re struggling, you deserve better, what support can I provide you?
And we all need to get off the fence and stop excusing actions when our gut instincts tell us that those actions are wrong. No more hiding behind, “Oh, it’s their private business” or “Maybe I’m misinterpreting the situation so I better keep my mouth shut.” No more of that.
It’s time to turn the tide so we can all live in a world where domestic violence is a rare exception, not a commonplace distraction on the nightly news.
Enough is enough.