The violence must stop
REMEMBER THE WOMEN WHO HAVE DIED
THE year-long white ribbon campaign will culminate tomorrow in White Ribbon Day across the nation, to raise awareness of the women who have died every week in Australia at the hands of their partner or former partner.
White Ribbon Day is now in its 12th year and its mission is to make women’s safety a men’s issue too.
Perth White Ribbon ambassador Andre De Barr got on board about three years ago after he noticed an increase in domestic violence in his own circle.
“It became quite alarming because of the number just in my own circle and then you hear the numbers on the news,” he said.
“I think another area of concern was that I have two daughters and the chance of one of those girls growing up and being abused did not sit comfortably with me.
“As a male and as a father, I want to be a role model for good behaviour.”
He said he was angry when he first started hearing about domestic violence.
“It was something that didn’t make me feel comfortable; quite accurately it angered me and it upset me,” he said.
He said domestic violence was different to other forms because victims did not have the choice to just walk away.
“People can usually choose to engage in violence; domestic violence victims can’t just walk away,” he said.
As an ambassador, Mr De Barr hopes to bring more action against domestic violence in WA.
He said in the next five years he hoped domestic violence was openly discussed and constantly on the minds of people.
“The reason being that it will impact policy and legislation if enough people see it as an issue,” he said.
“There needs to be ongoing behavioural change.”
CHILDREN who are exposed to domestic violence are at higher risk of physical, social and psychological harm, according to a south-eastern suburbs social worker.
Armadale Health Service principal social worker Ivy Vukovich said there was a misconception that violence did not impact children just because they may not have seen the violent incident.
“Children often hear the incident, see the injuries and the traumatic impact on the victim,” she said.
“A significant part of our role is focused on protecting children, as we recognise the short and long-term negative impact that exposure to domestic violence can have on their wellbeing.”
Ms Vukovich said Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) could also contribute to homelessness, neglect, unpredictability, poor school attendance and poor concentration, as well as sleep deprivation and increased anxiety and depression.
Children become more vulnerable to harm, especially when drug and alcohol use is involved and tend to blame themselves or feel responsible for protecting their mother (or father) and siblings.
“They can sometimes be made to ‘spy’ on their mother and siblings or are used in threats towards the mother.
“This creates an unhealthy understanding in the child of what an intimate relationship involves.”
To prevent the alarming cases of domestic violence and the ongoing effects it has on children as well as the victims, Ms Vukovich said society needed to continue to raise awareness about the issue and provide education and support to those experiencing FDV.
“White Ribbon Day and other community events are essential in keeping FDV in the forefront of our minds,” she said.
“It is an opportunity for society to make a stand against FDV and to say that there are no circumstances where it is acceptable to cause harm or fear towards another.
“It also educates perpetrators that violence, aggression, controlling and intimidating behaviour is not acceptable and there is support available to help them address their behaviours and learn appropriate communication skills.”
Ms Vukovich works with a multidisciplinary team made up of doctors, nurses, security staff and other social workers at Armadale Health Service.
Their role is to ensure the immediate safety of women and children – and men in some instances – to meet their medical and social needs when they come to the hospital.
Social worker Seremonde Hobby, Dr John O'Hare, Dr Gillian Porter and nurse Keith White.