I would like to share with you a perspective about male violence towards women and I think it’s time we spoke about the value of women in Australian culture. And it’s time we spoke about the value we place on womens lives in our culture. And I want to pose these questions to you all.
Why does our abuse not register, let alone matter?
Last week a shocking act of violence occurred in a small semi-rural town that has been a catalyst for an outpouring of rage among many of its residents.
Nine (9) puppies were taking into local bushland and beaten to death. Twenty-five (25) year old Nathan Thompson from Kurri Kurri New South Wales has pleaded guilty to serious animal cruelty, aggravated animal cruelty and resisting arrest.
The outrage this has caused is understandable and expected. Social media pages have been set up to organise a rally outside of the local court house on 28th April where Mr Thompson is to receive sentencing calling for maximum punishment.
What happened next is truly disturbing.
Endless posts on my Facebook newsfeed from local buy swap sell groups inciting violence towards Mr Thompson. Posting his and relatives addresses online. Photos of his partner shaming her for staying with an animal killer amongst all kinds of threats of harm and death.
I diplomatically posted a comment in one of these groups to remind people that threats are illegal and my comments were removed yet the death threats were not. When I posted again I was blocked from the group.
I took to my own page to vent my feelings about what I was seeing. That essentially it’s ok to wish death upon a human being and his family. In what world is this ok?
Then something else happened. I began to question why the murder of puppies incites more action and disgust in society than the overwhelming worldwide human rights issue that is domestic violence.
There has been international news coverage and an out pouring of emotion for these poor puppies so innocently murdered by this evil ‘potential serial killer’. Yet women are being murdered in what the media report to be ‘domestic situations’.
Why are we hearing more about these puppies than domestic violence, and condemning this man but excusing abusive men by victim blaming.
I asked this question on social media… Why are people more outraged about puppies being murdered than about the 24 murdered women so far this year due to known or suspected male violence? A friend answered openly and honestly about why this may be. That puppies are more relatable than abused women. Sad but true. And as a survivor of domestic violence and fighting daily to regain my life after an abusive relationship, with that one sentence my hopes have been shattered.
Why is it easier for people to connect more with an animal than a woman?
Why does society not pull together and rally at AVO hearings, sexual assault hearings, and domestic violence related court appearances?
Why has society pulled together to create a campaign for the surviving puppy ‘Lucky’ yet frontline domestic violence services and refuges are struggling to assist victims of DV due to funding cuts and this is going virtually unnoticed by the community.
Why is a puppy an innocent victim yet women are somehow held responsible for their own abuse?
1 in 3 women in Australia will experience DV at some point throughout their lives.
1 in 5 will experience sexual assault.
Women are currently being murdered in our country at a rate of 2 per week.
What will it take for society to be able to relate?
When will the media be held accountable for their minimisation of domestic violence murders?
When will our Minister for Women hear our voices and enact change?
How can my hopes ever be restored if these patriarchal attitudes continue to permeate the values of society and that puppies are seen as a mans best friend and women are nothing more than bitches.
Because according to the comments directed at me due to my recent activism on Facebook, 50% of society believe that if you don’t just up and leave an abuser then you are choosing to live that life and you deserve the abuse. That unless you’re physically bound and hog tied then you have no excuse.
Well I was bound and hog tied. I have been held against my will. I was also psychologically hog tied due to trauma bonding and gas lighting. I was economically hog tied because I had no access to my money, was evicted and homeless because my ex stole from me and shot it up his arm and gambled it away. I was socially hog tied because he eliminated my support network, created irreparable damage between myself and family and some friends. Alienated me from my own children. I was sexually hog tied by force. And am trying to keep those memories blocked. I was physically hog tied and lived in sheer terror of strangulation… I was emotionally hog tied with feelings of hope and memories of good times and worrying about my children’s lives if I didn’t comply with his demands and expectations.
Funding is being cut to frontline domestic violence services and refuges are turning away women in droves. Many victims have been so isolated they have no family friends that can help. Where do they go ? No choice but to go back to their abuser.
If you go on the run then you look over your shoulder the rest of your life. If you leave then you have to be further traumatised by legal systems such as family court, criminal court and Dept. of Community Services. None of which are trauma informed. You live in fear of them going for full custody and claiming parental alienation. Then they have visitation with the children without you there to protect them.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IS ABOUT POWER AND CONTROL.
I implore you to live with a violently narcissistic, controlling, sexually, psychologically and physically abusive man for one week and then tell me how much choice you have. Zero.
I left many times. I was tracked down, stalked, threatened, harassed and the law wasn’t protecting me. I had nowhere to go. I wasn’t even safe in the refuges that I accessed after a period of time on a waiting list and living in my car and in motel rooms. I had to send my older children away so that they were safe during the separation period as it’s the most dangerous time.
This abuse changed the pathways in my brain causing an anxiety disorder, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, making it harder to access help. Making it harder to relate to friends, and making it harder to live in general. I was suicidal. And believed he didn’t kill me I would kill myself as I believed that would be my only escape.
The abuse escalated every time I left and also put my children in more danger. The threats were not just threats, they were followed through on and carried out many many times. I had about as much choice as what I have of having a brain tumour. I did not wake up every morning and say ‘I choose to be abused today.’
If you are of this antiquated and extremely harmful opinion then do your research, listen to survivors’ experiences and accept that great harm is being done to women that are searching for solace and support and trying their hardest to escape the cycle of male violence.
It is because people in our country, in our cities, towns, communities and social groups perpetuate these myths of DV that it is far harder for people like me to even ask for help. This is a large part of the problem.
You are upholding the very barriers that keep us from seeking assistance and finding the courage to leave by placing stigma and blame so flippantly on the victims.
If it wasn’t for my very dearest friends who believed in me, and my local Domestic Violence Resource Centre and refuge for engaging with me and helping me put safety plans in place to be able to get away and stay away then I believe I would be dead now and quite possibly my children too.
As a survivor of male violence, one of the lucky ones who made it out alive, I’m asking you, Please DO NOT JUDGE WHAT YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND, please direct your focus to the abuser, not the abused. And please, all of you, STOP the victim blaming.