I love the work that people are doing keeping records of the deaths caused by domestic violence. We have to keep the government accountable. They have to acknowledge those deaths. Don't hear me saying we shouldn't do that.
However the reason that I have pitched my program at respect, and not at death or physical violence or violence against women, is I want to raise the bar. My No Respect, No Relationship campaign covers all abusive behaviour in all relationships, because everyone deserves respect. While I love the work that other organisations are doing to bring attention to these murders, and they should keep doing that as it is important, I wish that we were also getting equal coverage directed at all kinds of abuse.
All abuse, not just death
Surely most people would agree that we want to do something about all domestic violence, for women and men, not just domestic violence resulting in the death of the victim.
Statistics show that in one third to one quarter of homicides where there was a history of domestic violence, this domestic violence had not been reported to police.
There is an accepted issue in domestic violence that under reporting is making protection of victims difficult, and collection of statistics to better protect victims difficult. We need to treat all forms of domestic violence as serious, not just those that end in death. Apart from anything else, some domestic violence that is reported does lead to the death of the victim so we should respond to it.
All victims, not just women
In 2017 in New South Wales alone there were 908 assaults of boys by a family member. Boys as in children, as in 14 years old or younger. These are assaults that were proved in court in NSW, within the criminal definition of that word. For 453 of those assaults the boy was 9 years old or younger. These are not sexual assaults that is a different category. The number would be much larger if I added sexual assaults.
During the same period 917 girls aged 14 years or younger were assaulted by a family member. You can verify those ABS statistics here if you like.
Think about how many children were assaulted in 2017 but didn't report the assault, or did report the assault but it didn't have enough proof to make the criminal charges stick. Our family violence epidemic is so bad that children, children aged 14 years or younger, are being assaulted at that rate.
Now I accept that death is worse than assault, but this is a particularly galling type of assault and you have to ask yourself why aren't we discussing this? More children were assaulted by a family member in 2017 than people died on the roads.
Does that surprise you? Do you think there should be advertising and public campaigning around that?
Death is important
I want to repeat again that death is important. I don't want to minimise death. I do want people to keep counting the number of women killed. I do want the government to keep doing something about the road death toll.
What I would also like is statistics like the ones I have sited above to be publicised and discussed as well. I would like it known that our rates of family violence are so bad that children are being swept up in it at these rates. I would like friends and family members to be on the look out for the warning signs because they know that this is a real epidemic in our society.
I would like parents to be as concerned about the risks to their child of family violence as they are concerned about car seat safety. Both are important. Both should be discussed.
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