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Shattering the Silence

The Importance of Speaking Out, and Speaking To, Domestic and Family Violence

The afternoon was much like any other I had had that Summer, pouring drinks and serving food at a restaurant in the city. Except, this afternoon, I was spinning a story and laying it on thick to explain away the large second-degree burn visible on my forearm. I was in a foreign country without health insurance, having moved overseas for the man I thought was the love of my life. Up until now, most arguments ended in tears and gaslighting. On the rare occasion that bruises occurred, they were easy to hide. This burn, however, was a nasty escalation, and I questioned the chefs about how best to look after the wound. A chef I was friendly with gave me a look before asking if my boyfriend had burned me. I laughed it off, moved the conversation along and nothing more was said. However, the question replayed on loop in my mind.

Until the moment someone reflected my reality back towards me, I hadn’t thought of my relationship as abusive. The justifications came loud and fast. Others couldn’t understand our relationship. I was the one at fault. Every relationship has tough spots. We can make it work. But the question remained in my mind – if this wasn’t abuse, then why did I have to lie? Having a coworker ask me that question was the first step in my coming to terms with the relationship and leaving it behind. This was my experience, yet so many have stories of their own.

Domestic and family violence has never been such an open topic as in today’s media. However, for many experiencing abuse, silence and secrets are currency.

Domestic and family violence is a complex issue, lacking a ‘one size fits all’ approach or profile. Despite its complexity, however, the overwhelming shared similarity of domestic abuse is its ability to have touched anyone’s life. Regardless of sexuality, age, race or background, domestic and family violence has found its way into many people’s homes and every person’s community. Data states that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 16 men experience some form of physical and/or sexual abuse after turning 15years old, while approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men experience emotional abuse. As simple as it would be to dismiss these numbers as happening to someone else, the reality is that domestic and family violence is, has, or might one day be happening to the people in our circle. Our friends, our neighbours, our coworkers, our clients. Even ourselves. Because of that, it is crucial that we as a community and individuals speak out against domestic and family violence, recognise the signs, and feel comfortable broaching the topic with others.

As such, domestic and family violence training is needed for everyone and anyone. More education, more dialogue, and fewer words left unsaid. You don’t know whose life you could change.

How to get involved:

Lifeline North Coast offers a range of valuable domestic and family violence training options, suitable for whatever your situation – whether you are a frontline worker in the community, or just a member of the community itself! Ranging from two hours to two days, there is bound to be a suitable option for you. See our list of upcoming events to register or reach out for more information.


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