When we’re fighting against systemic and cultural problems, sometimes the road can seem insurmountable, but that doesn’t mean we should stop.
As Inverell – the first White Ribbon Community – kicks off its battle against domestic violence in earnest, we can already see a tough journey ahead. Despite a community that’s become louder and louder in its cries against domestic violence, our statistics have remained steady.
Seeing dedicated community members like Rural Outreach and Support Service’s Kerrianne Anderson and Vicki Higgins continue to work so hard despite seeing generation after generation come through with the same bruises, is both exhausting and confusing. Why do they keep fighting what seems to be a losing battle? What makes them so certain we can win?
Vicki gave us a clue when she encouraged us to challenge disrespect.
“(When) someone says something that’s really sexist and out of whack with things - stick up for what you believe in,” she said.
A lifetime of standing up to violence has taught Vicki that it’s about the small things. The sexist attitude that convinces a man he has the right to control his female relatives. The loud arguments that keep a child on alert. Or, as Vicki pointed out, the partner who belittles you in front of others, stealing your right to be respected by loved ones.
Fighting against those little things; making sure abusive behaviour is never perceived as normal and educating our communities about the red flags that lead to violence, those are the things that make a difference. Bit by bit.
Often we think of a social revolution as one moment in history when everything changed. But revolutions take time. They are built up over a long period of time as dissatisfaction with the status quo slowly reaches a boiling point. We’ve had a sad history of domestic violence in our town for much too long. But now that we’ve become a White Ribbon community, Inverell has finally declared its intention to face up to the issue head on.
Taking on domestic violence is not an easy task, but it is necessary. The White Ribbon survey is one of the first steps to fighting our statistics. If we’re going to change the local problems leading to violence, we need to know what we’re up against. If you haven’t filled out a survey yet, go to the council website, visit the library or Linking Together Centre and do it.