Domestic violence, the scourge of too many of our homes, is not confined to punching, slapping, hair-pulling and other forms of physical attacks on women.
For many, the abuse comes in different guises marked by the lack of physical violence but still as intimidating and soul destroying.
With no outward signs it’s hard for those not directly involved to see, and as a result not recognised for what it is by many in the community.
That’s the motivation behind a new initiative being spearheaded by 12 brave Brisbane women who have put themselves forward to help educate the community through the media about the full picture of domestic violence and how it impacts us all. All are survivors of some form of domestic violence.
The project, Voices for Change is a survivor media advocacy project initiated by Our Watch, a national body set up to fight violence against women, and implemented within Brisbane by Brisbane Domestic Violence Services (BDVS).
It has been established to drive change in the culture, behaviours and power imbalances that lead to violence against women and their children.
Silent, not obvious signs of domestic violence can include:
- Using intimidation
- Using emotional abuse
- Using isolation
- Minimising, denying and blaming
- Using children
- Using male privilege
- Using economic abuse
- Using coercion and threats
- Using technology
The 12 women, who are from many different backgrounds and experiences, are proud advocates of breaking the cycle of domestic and family violence.
They have all had media training and can provide lived experience and insight into the effects of domestic violence along with the process that saw them escape the cycle of abuse.
Each of the women has individual experience and expertise to speak on diverse issues within domestic violence such as homelessness, financial abuse, reproductive coercion, abuse within isolated fundamentalist religions, the experience of indigenous women, the experience of culturally diverse and immigrant women and many other impacts of domestic and family violence on the general wellbeing of women and their children.
Natasha Malmstrom, one of the 12 women in the Voices for Change project, said it was not only important, but integral to have the voices of people who have experienced gender-based violence as a part of every story on this subject.
Natasha, a mother of four children, has experienced domestic violence in multiple relationships, some of which continue and impact her today, years after leaving.
Natasha’s advocacy is raw and passionate, she speaks authentically and connects with her audience to build a deep understanding of the impact of domestic and family violence on her, her family and the wider community.
Belinda Cox, Community and Partnerships Program Manager at Micah Projects, a not-for-profit organisation committed to providing services and opportunities in the community to create justice and respond to injustice, said that by sharing their stories, the women would not only help aid prevention “but will also increase the likelihood of media inserting the voices of lived experience into stories of domestic violence”.
“It will also improve the quality of domestic violence reporting, with the media able to access the knowledge of these incredible women who have agreed to share their experiences and lend their voice to this cause,” she said.
She Society is a site for the women of Australia to share our stories, our experiences, shared learnings and opportunities to connect.