Shift in cultural norms now critical

The spotlight on domestic and family violence must not just shine briefly this week in the lead-up to Friday’s White Ribbon Walk.

That light must stay on, and burn bright, until we as a community, as a culture, as a collection of human beings change the way we think, talk about and act on violence.

One week of activism does not address a social issue we continue to turn ourback on through complicity – when we do not take real and genuine actionand we do not speak out.

Counting dead women does not change the fact they are still being bashed and murdered by men who claim to love them.

Raising awareness in our community, but not demanding individual responsibility for social and cultural change, means we all continue to accept the status quo and normalise violent and abusive behaviours. And we hand that torch to the next generation.

Continually referring to women as ‘victims’ and finding excuses to explainor people to blamefor acts of violence does not go close to shifting generationally embedded attitudes.

Providing women with the skills and street smarts to avoid unwanted gestures, cat-calls, stalking, threatening verbal, emotional, physical or sexual contact–all behaviour designed to disempower and control –is an acceptance that violence isthe norm and it’s a woman’s responsibility to prevent it.

Teaching men to show restraint -that it’s okay to think but not act -is not a remedy either.

It is the thinking that must change and we are all a part of the solution.

Where does the breeding ground of entitlement begin and how are we feeding into the normalisation of a culture where violence is accepted? We need to find answers to these questions if we are to move forward as a community embracing solutions for change.

Walk this Sunday at the White Ribbon Coastal Walk but really think about what sort of impact you are having the helping to instigate this change.

Walk alone or walk with others but start a real and productive conversation.

Every year the Hastings Domestic and Family Violence Support Service provides assistance for more than 1000 women in our own community fleeing a violent relationship.

Each and every one of those women matter.

The change starts today.

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