During May we recognise Domestic Violence Prevention Month, an annual event to raise community awareness of the social and personal impact of domestic and family violence and the support available to those affected.

In 2015, thanks to Rosie Batty and her fantastic work as Australian of the Year, we saw a shift in media reporting of DFV, some increases in funding and, I think, a change in the public perception and understanding of this complex crime.

But while we have come on leaps and bounds from the days when a woman’s screams in her home were dismissed as “family matters” we haven’t yet come far enough.

I was reminded of this recently following the very sad and brutal murder of a lady in her home in coastal NSW. Much of the immediate coverage referred to her death as a ‘violent domestic incident’.

This is not uncommon.

There is still something in the way DFV is reported that implies that ‘domestic’ is a lesser form of violence than might be found outside the home. Whereas the murders being committed are often more confronting, vicious and brutal than many other violent crimes.

The fact that they were committed by in the home environment to my mind only makes that worse. A place where it should be everyone’s right to feel safe.

While I am not advocating sensationalist Fox News style reporting, I do believe we should call a spade a spade. Because when we say ‘she was the victim of domestic violence' we risk undermining what actually occurred. That is, a person was viciously assaulted or even murdered, in theirown home by someone they were close to.

It’s important because we need public distress to ensure this topic never, ever falls off the radar. As the statistics continue to show us - there is still significant progress to be made.

Take a moment to read the true story from our latest campaign, Independence is Precious, which highlights how DFV can strip a person of their independence.

If you are experiencing sexual assault or domestic and family violence or seeking help for someone who is, call 1800 RESPECT or visit www.1800respect.org.au.

Catherine Yeomans

 

Catherine Yeomans
CEO Mission Australia
@cathyeomans

 

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