In the foreground of this ANZAC day weekend, as we remembered those whose lives were taken in wars past, thousands marched in solidarity for those whose lives were taken in Domestic Violence. Thousands of men and women marched and demanded an end to this despicable crime.

“Patty Kinnersly, chief executive of the national violence prevention organisation Our Watch, said…  “We are looking at a shocking rate of violent deaths of women this year that exceeds anything Australia has experienced in recent years. The community, men and women, are demanding that this ends, and ends now… “The deaths of 26 women in the first 114 days of 2024 is equivalent to one every 4.38 days…”

Domestic violence is a scourge on society. There’s nothing civilised about it. It’s as base as it can be. Admittedly, victims of DV can be male or female, so excuse me if this article is female focused. In no way is it intended to negate the violence inflicted on the many men that are also victims of this crime.

Let’s begin at the beginning

So far the focus has been on what to do after the violence, abuse, and killings. But that’s not enough. It’s time to consider prevention. When we also focus on prevention we double the capacity to diminish if not eradicate, this abhorrent behaviour.

It’s important to begin at the beginning. We need to empower our children to grow to adulthood with self-love, with a good sense of self-worth, from early in life. Children need to be valued, protected and encouraged to know that they matter. We want this to begin at home and to be reinforced in schools.

Every individual has the basic human right to defend herself/himself from the assault of another. If, as defending ourselves we are falsely seen as aggressors, this denies us our rights as human beings. The double tragedy here is that many of us would consciously or unconsciously, translate this as our lives being less valuable than an aggressor’s. As our lives not worth defending. When children are physically or verbally bullied, too many parents forbid them to defend themselves. Why? Because they distortedly see the act of self-defence as an aggressive act which could make their child appear as a bully.

There’s another reason for the necessity of self-defence. And here I’m not talking solely about physical self- defence. Self-defence can be verbal, through mediation, through the courts etc. When we self-defend we give the perpetrators an opportunity to face and be accountable for the injuries or injustices they inflicted.

When someone wrongs us for no justifiable reason and we do not hold them accountable, we are doing them and ourselves a disfavour. We are silently, unknowingly, condoning that wrong. We owe it to that person to hold him/her accountable, otherwise, they may well become self-empowered by our non-defence. We would be denying that person the opportunity to be accountable for his/her actions.

Self-defence needs to be legaly seen as that – self defence. Right now, this is iffy. People defending themselves from home intruders, from people breaking and entering into their home have themselves been convicted of assault. I can’t help but wonder if during the knife attack frenzy at Bondi Junction a few weeks ago, abled bodied men did not disarm the murderer because of the consequences they themselves may have had to face by the judicial system had he been injured in the process.         

Until society gets past this first base, all manner of violence amongst young, old and in between, will continue to escalate, as it has been. Until people learn to respect another’s right to safety, self-defence is a necessity and needs to be seen as such.    

When awareness can save your life

The next step towards prevention is to encourage young women to be aware of certain behaviours from their boyfriends/ partners before things get serious, before they feel trapped and believe there’s no way out. Being aware means loving yourself enough to care for your wellbeing first and foremost. Being aware means knowing that you are worthy of being respected, cared for and loved in a relationship. See the very first aggressive reaction towards you as a sign that this person neither respects, nor loves or cares for you. Don’t kid yourself that your love for him will change him into a loving partner/boy-friend. Don’t kid yourself that having a baby with him will make him lovable and caring.  

If your boy-friend/partner calls you consistently, persistently, ask yourself if this is because he cares so much or because her wants to know what you’re doing, where you are and with whom you. This can be the first sign of control being mis identified as care or love. Be aware that DV perpetrators can charm you off your feet in the early stages of your relationship/friendship. Be a critical thinker and ask yourself the hard questions. You are worth that. You are worthy of making sure his interest in you is genuine and honest.

Be aware that perpetrators of DV come from many backgrounds. They can have backgrounds in law, in the police force, in areas of health, trades, the judicial system, in manual jobs, in entertainment, etc.

So, be aware… observe…look beyond the charm…look beyond the attention.

We abhor that some countries deny their citizens basic human rights, yet it’s happening in our own country. Article 3 of the United Nations’ declaration of human rights states that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person. Article 5 states that, No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” DV is a denial of these two basic human rights and probably others.

When assault, battery or murder happens in the home, this is referred to as Domestic Violence. Perhaps we need to start calling it for what it is- assault, battery and murder and leave ‘domestic’ out of it! Assault is assault, battery is battery, murder is murder!

These words might sound too strong, but I want you to know that your life, your safety, and that of every woman, every child, is paramount.

May you have the love and courage to walk away from anyone or any situation that denies you peace, love and joy. And if for whatever reason you cannot do it on your own, then have the love and courage to ask for help.


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