As long as it takes you to read this sentence a woman is being killed by her partner.
It’s a horrifying and yes, it’s meant to frighten you.
Tomorrow there might be another.
These women are wives, mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters and friends to someone “” they don’t deserve to die. They don’t deserve to be treated with distaste, they don’t deserve to walk the shops with a black eye and they don’t deserve the knife in their back.
I am being frank for a reason, because the conversation about domestic violence has for too long remained “behind closed doors”.
Yes we talk about it, but do we really talk about? Do we really know what happens to these women? Will knowing make a difference? Will it make others see that what is happening to them is not normal? Will it show our nation the amount of women who are suffering? Will it give these women strength to walk away?
If not, what will?
Today, a man has been charged with murdering a woman at a home in Bendigo. The 35-year-old was arrested after emergency services found the woman’s body in Kennington.
It’s gut-wrenching “” and we don’t even know the woman’s name.
In Australia, one woman is killed every week by her partner or former partner. If this continues for the rest of the year. And, believe it or not, the numbers are growing.
Based on recent Australian crime statistics, if the current rate of domestic violence deaths for 2015 persists, those women will make up approximately half of all homicide victims in Australia this year. It’s shocking and yes, it’s true.
We refer to this “one woman a week” statistic now more than ever: in newspapers, on television, in parliament and on social media.
It is fantastic that people are discussing family violence openly “” but are those discussions being followed by action? The fact is whilst we have all been citing the “one woman per week” statistic, the number of women being killed by their partners has been rising.
And it seems like the number of Australians who recognise that fact and appreciate its gravity is not as critical as we would like to think. We might not want to admit it, but the numbers speak for themselves. We might be hearing the devastating news each week, but are we digesting it and really putting a plan into action to see domestic violence in our nation stopped?
Earlier this year, women’s rights advocates called for an overhaul of the way the Government deals with domestic violence to stop the rising number of women being killed. They sought to elevate the status of protection agencies so they are directly under the control of premiers and the Prime Minister. They also want greater funding for programs aimed at reducing violence.
Helen Brereton from the Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service in NSW told the ABC domestic violence was reaching epidemic levels.
“We know that domestic violence is the leading cause of death and injury and illness for women in Australia,” she said.
“The statistics have been growing steadily over time as more women are reporting.
“So it’s shocking to hear these statistics but what is less shocking just for me is just how widespread this issue is.”
Did you know, three-quarters of Australians believe domestic violence is as much or more of a threat than terrorism? The Essential Research poll of 1000 people across the nation, conducted for gender equality organisation Fair Agenda, found 74 per cent of Australians believe so.
Australian of the Year Rosie Batty said the results show governments need to reassess their priorities and allocate more funding to preventing and responding to domestic violence.
“We’re spending hundreds of millions extra on the war on terrorism, but women who fear for their safety are still being turned away from services because of a lack of funds,” Ms Batty said
In May this year, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced $4 million will be handed to the 1800RESPECT hotline which supports women in need with telephone and online counselling services. He also announced new measures to see GPS ankle bracelets placed on domestic violence repeat offenders.
“We want to look at really lifting our game when it comes to dealing with the scourge of domestic violence,” Tony said.
So far though, nothing has changed Tony. Women are still being killed.
Now advocacy groups want to see violent partners forced to leave the family home to stop these women from staying in abusive relationships just because they or their children have nowhere to go.
They say, more than one-third of homelessness is linked to family violence but in many cases families could avoid becoming homeless if the perpetrators of violence were made to leave the home.
Ahh, this toing and froing is exhausting “” and yet, it seems that’s all we do.
The time for discussion is over. It’s time to act.
Name and shame, lock them away, get these women help and do it now.
Stop sitting on your hands, offer a bed and a safe home to your friend if you know she is suffering. Everybody needs to take action, we can no longer throw money at call centres “” these women need physical help. AND MORE OF IT.
Feature Picture Credit: www.heraldsun.com.au