02 May 2016

The face of domestic violence in Australia

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Below is a ‘non –comprehensive’ pictorial list of the women who died in Australia in 2015 due to domestic violence. Their deaths are tragic.

The impact of their deaths runs deep and spans beyond the devastation to their families, friends and wider communities. These deaths impact the collective psyche of our nation. As a nation, we can no longer ignore this crisis.

Interestingly, there is no overriding characteristic, shared history or environmental factors that unite these women. These women’s faces are no different to those that we could expect to see passing us in the street, working in our offices, teaching our children. In fact any one of them could be our sister, colleague, mother, grandmother, daughter, wife or neighbour.

Despite this, we commonly make assumptions about such victims. Such assumptions shape our individual and collective responses to domestic violence. If only we could eradicate these assumptions, we could surely begin to eradicate this national epidemic.  What are among the most common assumptions about domestic violence victims?

Low self-esteem causes victims to get involved in abusive relationships

-          REALITY: Traditionally theories widely presumed that people with sufficient self-esteem would not allow themselves to get into relationships with abusive people. Yet in reality extensive research has shown that domestic violence victims fail to share any common characteristics aside from commonly being female.
 
Victims of domestic violence suffer from mental illness

-          REALITY: This assumption stems from the idea that victims would need to be suffering from a psychological disorder to ‘take’ the abuse on an ongoing basis. In fact, evidence has shown that victims typically employ a range of tactics to resist the abuse. In addition most victims do not suffer from mental illness. However, it not uncommon for psychological disorders to develop as a result of abuse such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress.

If it was serious enough the victim would leave the abusive relationship/ home

-          REALITY: The fact is most victims HAVE tried to leave multiple times. However, victims are in fact at much greater risk of violence once they decide to leave the perpetrator.

I would recognise a domestic violence victim or perpetrator if I knew one

-          Domestic violence is often a family’s best kept secret. Some victims don’t tell anyone about the abuse they experience until they leave the relationship. Many go to great lengths to conceal the abuse.



If we could only combine such promising initiatives with an overhaul of our individual and national attitudes towards domestic violence, imagine the positive change that could occur… not to mention the myriad of lives that could be saved.    




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"These women are not just statistics. They are mums, sisters, granddaughters, aunts and friends. Their deaths are tragic and impact everyone. These were women who contributed to their communities, and their families. They had every right to be safe, loved and have a future."
— Rosie Batty, 2015 Australian of the year

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"Everything about Jackie was aboutcaring. It was a huge part of her life through her work."
— Friend Lindsey Webb pays tribute to Jackie Ohide

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"She came to my aid in my low times - she was a listening ear, a chauffeur, she even shared wise words with me."
— Veronica speaks about her sister Jacinta Pompei

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Illustration by: Lucy Fahey
As detailed by ABC news reporters Heidi Davoren, Rachel Riga, Kellie Scott and Margaret Burin ; “The women featured in this article died in 2015 in cases where police laid charges against their partners or ex-partners, or where their partners or ex-partners have been named as the suspect in a murder-suicide. “

From a young age Luana wanted to become a teacher. She would line up her teddies in a row and teach them for hours on end. However, she eventually grew tired of their nonchalance and has ended up leading a team of producers instead- which she finds far more fulfilling and stimulating!  
Luana comes from an experienced production and management background. She has produced and topic generated events across Asia and Australia.

Luana enjoys learning about emerging trends and drivers for change and loves the notion of the 'butterfly effect'- that change can start small but grow immeasurably through a ripple effect.

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