Today I went to the White Ribbon Walk at the Entrance for White Ribbon day. The turnout was amazing with over 600 people. For the first time, “Walk A Mile – Koori Style” and “White Ribbon Day Walk” came together for one big walk as part of Domestic Violence Awareness campaign. It was a lovely morning and the weather was beautiful. I plan to go along to White Ribbon Walk at Terrigal this Sunday. Some friends and I made up some white blooms, so it will be good to 50,000 of them that are on the Skillion. The blooms are in the shape of a ribbon and it looks amazing in the photos I’ve seen.
I am very passionate about domestic violence. It is something close to my heart because of personal experience and also because it’s a national and local crisis. The Central Coast is in the top two NSW police commands for domestic and family violence incidents. It was in July this year that I became a White Ribbon Advocate and joined the Central Coast White Ribbon committee because I wanted to help make a difference towards educating, raising awareness and bringing an end to domestic violence. What I went through was bad enough but I know there are so many other’s currently experiencing domestic violence. Many experience much worse than what I did.
There are some people who don’t like a specific campaign for ‘violence against women’ and think there should be a general violence campaign instead. I understand where they are coming from and agree a general violence campaign is a good thing. I also think that men need more focus when it comes to domestic violence because they are less likely to speak out and some people may not take them as seriously. However a campaign for violence against women is very much needed because there is still a lot of sexism. My whole life I’ve experienced sexism. As a child I was molested by a family friend. I have had men wolf whistle, grope me inappropriately, make rude and sexist comments. I have had to leave a job due to be being stalked and also had male work colleagues make inappropriate advances towards me. This is just me. I know many women who have had similar experiences. Then there’s even more women and girls out there that I don’t know who have also experienced sexism. Yes we have progressed with women’s equality, however sexism is still well and truly alive out there. Most women begin to experience it when they are just a young girl. It is so important that we teach our children about respectful relationships and to treat women with respect.
The other thing that is well and truly alive is the out dated belief that the man is the head of the house and the women’s job is to cook, clean and raise the kids. I used to get the ‘the man is the head of the house’ line from my ex. I have friends who are struggling because their partner/husbands have this belief about women. I have met many women who have this same struggle. The only way to change these sexist and old fashioned, out dated beliefs about women is to engage the community, raise awareness and educate. It’s important to educate our children because our beliefs and attitudes are formed so young. If a woman chooses to not work, stay home and do all of the cooking, cleaning and looking after kids with no help, then that’s her choice. In this day and age no one should be abusive towards a woman because she no longer holds or subscribes to this belief.
Before I experienced domestic violence, I used to think I would never put up with it. Then it ended up happening to me. I won’t go into too much detail but is was a mainly intimidation, emotional abuse and being controlling. There were times he yelled and screamed in a fit of rage. I was called every name under the sun. No one in my life had ever spoken to me like that. It was quite a shock. There were also a few times he was physically violent and hit me, threw me and pinned me down. My Mum and step Dad only had a minute glimpse of what he could be like and that was right at the end when I was leaving. They were shocked by the way he spoke to me and what they saw was nothing compared to what he could be like.
I was with my ex-husband for five years. He didn’t show this side at first and even when he did show this abusive side, he wasn’t like it all the time. I guess I didn’t leave straight away because I was in shock, embarrassed and confused. He was very good at putting everything back onto me as though it was my fault. Which it wasn’t my fault and there’s never any excuse to abuse any one. My friends and family weren’t nearby because I lived in Sydney at the time. So I didn’t have any support around or anyone to pick up on what was going on. I also think when you have traumatic experiences, you get worn down, your self-esteem goes out the window and you can’t think straight. I am very blessed and lucky to have left before we had any kids. For many other’s who have kids, it’s a lot more complicated and they have the constant nightmare of having to deal with their ex. I was able to leave quite easily and I didn’t take anything, other than my own clothes and personal things. I was happy to go without the house, furniture or pets. Although I was very heart broken about the pets. My friends and family didn’t see it that way and kept trying to tell me that I should get something. They didn’t really know what was going on. We hadn’t paid much of the mortgage off and had also done renovations. We wouldn’t have got anything back if we sold it any way. It wasn’t worth having to deal with him and all the hassle of trying to get something when I wouldn’t have got much any way. I just didn’t want to have to deal with him anymore, it was too stressful. Being with someone like that is so soul crushing and I just wanted to be free to be me. I have now remarried and have four young kids. My husband is a very gentle and loving person. He has never said a bad thing to me.
If you are currently experiencing domestic violence or know someone who is experiencing domestic then call the NSW Domestic Violence Line on 1800 565 463 or 1800respect and ask to speak to a trauma counsellor.
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