I can’t keep quiet about domestic violence

If you have a faith the size of a mustard seed, you can move mountains, or so the Christian story goes.

To paraphrase it in Paul Kelly and Kev Carmody's words: from little things, big things grow.

That is why I decided to throw my lot in with the White Ribbon ambassadors who organised the domestic violence events in Murray Bridge over last weekend.

I understand the criticism that is sometimes levelled against White Ribbon: that its efforts to raise awareness do little to help the women who have survived or are enduring abuse.

I am glad to have helped spread the organisation's message of non-violence.

But when people get their wallets out, I encourage them to give to DVINA, to Centacare, to the Victim Support Service.

Awareness-raising is free, do-it-yourself stuff: we all can and should join in.

But immediate, tangible change costs money.

If you want to see that change in your community, put your money where your mouth is.

And if you need to learn about the issue, turn your ears toward the women who have survived it, or those who work with them every day.

I do consciously use the term "women", knowing that the cry goes up whenever we run a story about domestic violence: what about the male victims?

I used to say the same thing, but I have learned a lot over the past couple of years.

I did not realise how overwhelmingly the victims of private violence were female; or that men were way more likely to encounter violence at a pub or club, or in a mutually abusive relationship, than to be sole victims.

I have learned that so-called "whataboutism" was actually a propaganda technique used by the Soviets to deflect criticism.

It is true that not all victims of domestic abuse are women or children; there are male victims and their hurt is real.

Anyone who reports abuse should be listened to and believed.

But Murray Mallee police receive 1000 phone calls about domestic violence every year, and a quarter of the women reading this column have been or will be abused in their lifetimes.

As a society, we need to focus on the torrent before the trickle.

Peri Strathearn

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