Tomorrow (the 25th November) is White Ribbon day. It is a day where men encourage other men to not be violent, and not be silent about abuse that happens around them. It is about encouraging men to stand up, speak out and act.
I hear a lot of people talking about abuse and specifically about Domestic Violence. I think that it should be made clear that Domestic Violence is not entirely about the physical violence.
“An important piece in understanding the dynamics of domestic violence is the definition of abuse. Abuse is defined as the systematic pattern of behaviours in a relationship that are used to gain and/or maintain power and control over another. When one defines domestic violence in terms of physical abuse only they do not fully understand the dynamics that keep these relationships together.” (1)
Most people are shocked by physical violence when they find that it has been part of a Christian marriage. While understanding that physical violence is confronting, this is not the only type of abuse to look for. What most people do not understand is that the physical violence will often be the culmination of many days or months of every other type of abuse. Sometimes the only type of physical abuse is that of a push or a shove. Yet the verbal and psychological abuse goes on daily without restraint.
While the Christian home and church should be free from these types of behaviours, sadly it is not. The statistics are not good for women. On an average one in four women are physically abused by their intimate partner eg. Boyfriend, partner or husband. (2)
In gathering evidence to give some near enough figure was difficult indeed. The question has never been asked – How many Christian women are in or have been in abusive or domestic violence situations?
The statistics do not cover adequately the correct age brackets of 16-65 to cover the dating relationships and 19-65 (approx.) to cover marriage relationships. It does not give us information on those who remained in an abusive marriage until the death of their marriage partner and may not consider that what they lived with, was abuse. Statistics also do not cover domestic abuse and religions. For the sake of this article I wanted to give you some idea of the number of women in abusive situations. I cannot accurately state the correct figures, but for necessity sake it is imperative that I give you something to think on.
In 2016 it was estimated that the population of Australia was 22,992,654
“At June 2016, there were 187,100 more females than males residing in Australia, with 12.01 million males and 12.20 million females. The sex ratio (the number of males per hundred females) was 98.5” (3)
For simplicity sake I will remove a number of factors including children under 14 years old, people over 65 and half of those counted in the 15 to 24 years bracket. This leaves 59.86% of the population. This leaves approx. 7,302,900 women between the age of 19 and 65 years. The statistics are that there are about 52% of people that identify as having a Christian faith. This brings the number of Christian women to 3,797,000. Of those it is said that 1 in 4 women are living in or have experienced abuse. This brings the figure to 949,250 Christian women that either have been in or are in Domestic Violence situations.
Even if we want to be very conservative about this, and divide that by a further fifty percent to allow for those that think that this problem is more of a ‘worldly problem’ rather than a ‘Christian problem’ and also to allow for the Christian women who actually come to church or are regular attendees. We are still talking about 470,000 Christian women in Australia alone.
Just on those figures alone it is most likely that there are women in church every Sunday who need help and assistance. It would be reasonable to expect that in a church of 100 people, you would have at least 3 women who are experiencing domestic violence and/or abuse, and up to another 3 that have (in a previous relationship) experienced domestic abuse and violence. This is being very conservative.
Even in 2017, it is concerning that the personal beliefs of those in church leadership could be hindering women from coming forward and seeking help. Many churches remain are unaware and uninformed on the issue of domestic violence, as they don’t see it as a church problem. Not only is the issue of domestic violence recognised, but when revealed or exposed, it is dealt with incorrectly to the harm and detriment of the victim.
People who are in abusive relationships need help, but they seemingly unware that –
they are not to blame,
that there is a way out,
and that they can get help.
The world they reside in, and the conflict within the relationship are emotionally and mentally overwhelming.
For 14 years I was once part of a relationship that included Domestic violence and abuse. The education to know about and to avoid such relationships was not available to me as a young woman. The help for women, like myself was not talked about. Domestic Violence was not openly spoken about in my circle of friends and acquaintances. And the community support was not readily available should I need to move quickly.
There was one other thing greater than all this. I myself did not think I was worthy of the respect, worth or better treatment, so I went into the relationship and I stayed. I remained the victim, until I chose to be a survivor.
Saying no to violence starts within the hearts of average Australians, every person, every man, every woman, and every child. Everyone is worth something to someone. Saying no is the start. Standing up, taking action and speaking is the next.
No voice should be silent and every voice heard.
This year, White ribbon has produced a brochure called S.T.O.P. – See, Talk, Offer support, and Prevent. Please take the time to read and understand this very helpful information.
Sometimes, men see, hear and do not know how to act. It is not that they don’t care, they are just not sure how to accomplished what needs to be done.
I would like to encourage you to take time tomorrow, White Ribbon Day 2017, to be proactive in helping eliminate Domestic Violence. See….stand….act… and speak.