How i make it work... KIM MUKERJEE
AS A CHILD, KIM GREW UP SURROUNDED BY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. NOW AGED 56, HE IS DETERMINED TO END THE CYCLE OF ABUSE AS A WHITE RIBBON AMBASSADOR
Igrew up in London in the 1960s and 1970s. My childhood was reasonably broken and, because of that, I was quite a sensitive and shy child. My father was a domineering man who had to have things his own way. He physically abused my mother to the point that she left him when I was three. I kept in touch with him until the age of eight, when he severely beat me. I didn’t see him again until I was 20.
My mum later married a man from the East End of London who was a sailor and a drinker. As I grew up, he became progressively more of an alcoholic and was an aggressive drunk. I would avoid conversations with him after he’d been on the bottle.
I think we learn our values at an early age from our parents; as far as role models go, the morals of my stepfather were not the greatest. Growing up in a household like that made me vulnerable. I was sexually abused twice, as a nine-year-old and as a young teenager.
I want to be a good role model for my son and daughter. My daughter is living with me and I think it’s very important to show her love, affection and support – the things I didn’t get as a child. I want to provide an environment where she can grow as a person and become a strong, independent woman who is respected, loved and treated well by everyone she meets – particularly men.
Something that really concerns me is the violence and aggression towards women we see every day in the press. The statistics on intimate partner violence in Australia are horrendous. One woman is killed each week and this is the tip of the iceberg. We’re supposed to be a civilised society, yet this is going on. It’s almost at epidemic proportions and I want to do something about that.
I became a White Ribbon ambassador 18 months ago to help raise awareness. I’ve done some fundraising and have been asked to speak to a group of 16- to 18-year-old high-school kids. When I’m fundraising at football matches, it’s interesting how many men don’t make eye contact with me. I don’t know if they’re uncomfortable because we have a problem in Australia, or because it’s going on in their own home. I want men to stand up and talk about it; to recognise we have an issue here and that we need to do something about it.
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