Walking home from childcare today in my moonboot, a construction worker asks what I did to my foot. I told him it was broken; “Ha! Bloody boyfriends ay! He knock you down? Hahahahaha!”
Because domestic violence is hilarious, apparently.
I wanted to follow this with a hard hitting fact about how many women have been murdered by a partner/ex-partner this year. Turns out it is difficult to get an exact up to date figure, since on average two woman are killed every week. On the 12th of May, it was 23 women. On the 14th of May, Olga Neubert was shot point blank, sitting in her car. Her estranged partner was charged with murder. Women are being murdered so regularly, it’s difficult to keep count. Think about that. Hilarious, yes?
Imagine if instead of my ‘boyfriend’ injuring me, he had of made a joke about a stranger.
“Ha! Bloody muggers ay! He knock you down and rob you at the train station? Hahahahaha!”
“Ha! Bloody rapists ay! He attack and rape you in a dark alley? Hahahahaha!”
Why is domestic violence treated so differently to violence inflicted by a stranger? Why is domestic violence so often skimmed over in news reports? “Woman found dead, a man known to the woman has been charged.” End of story. Blink and you’ll miss it. There are no photos of their beautiful smiling faces splashed all over the media, no hashtags, no yellow balloons or pink profile pictures.
Their lives are snuffed out in an instant, by a man they once loved, they once trusted. By a man that more often than not has been torturing them for years. They are daughters, mothers, sisters, friends. Dead. Just another statistic. Even the term ‘domestic violence’ diminishes their circumstances. These women were not ‘killed by domestic violence,’ they were murdered. They were murdered by men who think they have ownership over a woman’s life. They think they have the right to control a woman, to beat a woman, to abuse a woman, to murder a woman. Hahahahaha! Domestic violence is so funny, right?!
I could have said all this today in response to this mans ‘joke’. I didn’t though, of course. Because the kind of man that thinks domestic violence is funny, is most likely the kind of man that couldn’t give a shit what a woman thinks. I’m just another bitch who has no sense of humour.
And that is why women alone cannot tackle the epidemic of domestic violence in this country. Because the men that hurt women sure as hell don’t care what we have to say. When it comes to violence against women there is no equality. So we need the men. We need the men to say enough is enough. To stand up and start defending their gender. To say “I’m a man, and this is not OK.” To pull up their mates when they make sexist and derogative jokes, to tell them not to refer to their partners as bitches or sluts. To speak loud and clear about the fact that two women every week are murdered by their partner/ex and they are horrified. To say to their work buddy, when he jokes about domestic violence to a woman just walking by, “Pull your head in mate. That’s not fucking funny.”
We need the men who own our media outlets to publish the name and photo of every woman who is murdered. To call out every single instance of ‘domestic violence’ and say THIS IS NOT OK. We need the men who run our country to stop with the token gestures and start making real changes that benefit the victims, putting money in to programs, legal aid and safe houses. To send out a clear statement that THIS IS NOT OK. We need a legal system that severely punishes men who are violent against women. We need laws that reflect that THIS IS NOT OK.
Violence against women is rampant in this country. It is not a joke, it is not funny. It is terrifying. We need the men to stand with us, to make our voices stronger and louder and clearer. This is not OK and it has to stop.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au In an emergency, call 000.