Held on November 25 each year, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is known as White Ribbon Day.
White Ribbon Australia works to educate, raise awareness of and implement programs to prevent violence against women. Over the years, many myths have developed that distort the reality of domestic violence, which White Ribbon Australia aims to address:
Myth: Women should just leave abusive relationships.
Reality: Women stay in abusive relationships for many reasons, including that they fear the violence will get worse and they may be followed and harmed if they leave. Some women may feel intimidated by a male partner or believe violence is normal. They may be financially dependent on their partner and fear social isolation or embarrassment will result from leaving a partner.
Myth: Some women provoke violence and deserve it.
Reality: No one has permission to hurt a woman. The man using violence is responsible for the violence, and has no right to use it, regardless of how angry he may be. There are many non-violent ways to resolve an argument.
Myth: Men’s violence against women is caused by drugs and alcohol.
Reality: They are a contributing factor, but alcohol and drugs do not cause the violence. This myth is sometimes used to excuse men’s violence. Men’s violence against women is caused by the attitudes and behaviours associated with traditional masculine gender roles. They put women in a subordinate position to men.
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Myth: Family violence is a private matter.
Reality: It is not a private matter. It is a criminal offence in Australia. Family violence impacts everyone in the community. It affects a woman’s ability to lead a productive life and affects families.
Myth: Violence doesn’t impact on children. They don’t remember it and are too young to understand what is going on.
Reality: They can be physically and emotionally harmed by violence at any age, affecting their self-esteem, confidence, education and future relationships. Children may learn violent behaviours and continue them as adults or think violence is normal and continue to experience it as adults.
Myth: Only certain types of men are violent.
Reality: Men who use violence come from all social, economic, and cultural backgrounds and family situations.
Myth: Violence only affects a small number of Australian women.
Reality: Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show in Australia, one-in-three women will experience physical or sexual violence. An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report found domestic and family violence is the main cause of homelessness for women and their children. One in four children is exposed to domestic violence.
Myth: There is nothing we can do to stop violence against women.
Reality: Some people think rape and domestic violence is a normal part of society or that men are ‘born that way’ and cannot control themselves or change. This is not true and is a negative perspective on men that is harmful to both men and women.
Myth: Men who use violence are mentally ill
Reality: There is no evidence to support this. Men with no signs of mental health issues can be violent. Most people living with mental health issues have respectful relationships and do not use violence.
Source: White Ribbon Australia