Let’s stop blurring the truth about family violence

The lady below gets it but still skates over the specifics.  For instance, An Aboriginal woman is 45 times more likely to experience domestic violence than a white woman. So Aborigines make up a big part of the figures reported.  On any rational calculus it is Aboriginal communities that should be prime targets of the domestic violence warriors but they are in fact rarely mentioned.  Racism?

And family violence in Aboriginal communities is NOT a hopeless case.  Extra policing is not in principle hard to arrange and would make a big difference to the often lawless situation in such communities.  Just arresting drunks would make a huge difference -- as much violence is drunken

FAMILY violence is all the rage. More than ever before it is on the minds and tongues of politicians of all stripes; as it should have been long ago.

It’s been labelled a national shame. It’s been called an epidemic. Men kill their partners or ex-partners at the rate of about one a week.

The Advertiser revealed yesterday that a government unit is dealing with 36 women and children each week who are at immediate risk of injury or death. In South Australia alone.

What the current appeals and awareness campaigns and earnest speeches from people in suits are doing is trying to breach that code of silence. They’re trying to shine a light on relationships that are abysmally wrong, to shame the perpetrators and give the survivors the courage to escape.

But the light isn’t quite getting in to all the corners. While all women — and children, and men — are at risk of violence, some are more at risk than others.

This is the truth still submerged in shadows. If you’re poor, or can’t speak English, or you’re an Aboriginal in remote Australia, or even if you’re gay, you’re more at risk.

Disadvantage in life can lead to vulnerability to violence. The topic treads treacherous waters.

It is true, and rightly emphasised, that anyone can be a victim. The sturdy bluestone walls of a stately Burnside home won’t protect you because the danger is already inside.

But there’s a well-intentioned deception going on when people don’t talk about risk factors. The Australian Institute of Criminology, Parliament, and the Australian Institute of Family Studies are among those who have documented those risk factors.

The biggest risk factor is being female, but the others include: being culturally or linguistically diverse [Muslim], being Aboriginal, being poor, being uneducated, being gay, lesbian or transgender, being disabled.

This blurring of the truth by not talking about those groups is well intentioned because it would cause harm to start pointing fingers at specific communities, and it would risk ignoring the still-appalling levels of violence within the somewhat-lower risk groups.

But ignoring the risk factors won’t help get us to that elusive solution. If we’re really going to get into the dark corners, we have to be fierce and fearless.

There are people in Australia who come from countries where there are no laws against domestic violence — mostly African nations. There are many who come to Australia from countries where women have fewer rights. That list includes much of the Arab world and Asia.

But we don’t import most of the at-risk groups; they’re already here.

They’re often not at the swanky fundraising balls, or the Press Club, listening to politicians talk about family violence. They’re not watching Question Time, or listening to leaders say that “real men” wouldn’t hit women.

They’re living the reality that we’re now hearing so much about, but their voices are almost always missing from this vital conversation. Because we don’t want to single them out.

This is the first time we’ve had so much political will to change the nation, and we can’t afford to squib it through squeamishness.


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