Domestic and Family Violence is in every postcode and every community and is one of the most urgent social issues of our time. Yet violence as a concept is still largely misunderstood. Conversations about Domestic and Family Violence commonly focus on the violence used by the perpetrator and the impact on the person experiencing violence. Talking about violence in this way is problematic as it portrays the person who is a victim of violence as a passive object. Such descriptions can make way for common assumptions and stereotypes, such as:
- ‘Why didn’t she just leave’
- ‘Why is she attracted to people like him?’
- ‘She is in denial’
- ‘Why does she keep doing this – reaching out then not following through?’
People who experience violence are not passive objects, they are active in their resistance and responses to violence. People resist and respond to violence in visible and invisible ways that might not seem obvious or directly related to what is going on, but this resistance and response to violence is important to them and is part of their efforts to uphold their dignity. They may not have been able to stop the violence but that doesn’t mean they ‘let it happen’.
Voices of Resistance was a project that documented four women’s resistance and responses to the violence they experienced.
These are their voices of resistance;
“I’ve tried to leave him that many times. I’ve left houses. I’ve fled and lost heaps of my stuff, I lost my drums. It was pretty heart breaking losing my instruments because it’s what keeps me sane; it’s my pulse and my passion.”
“I did a lot of behind-the-scenes thinking in my head. It was planning to manage the outcomes as best I could in order to stay as safe as possible. I did little things like buying the right brand of butter, even though it’s not what I liked, but it meant that he wouldn’t throw it at the wall, or at me. This was me taking back power and taking control to avoid the violence and verbal abuse.”
“Leaving is hard and scary. The complexity of everything you have to navigate on top of processing the abuse is overwhelming.”
“When my daughter was born, there was this fresh kind of something that took over me, that said “you do have the strength, you are going to do this and you are going to do this effectively.’ At that point I started thinking about my exit strategy and started to share it with a few people.”
“As a man working with men to end their violence I found your stories so profound and insightful. I will carry these into my work with men and hope to support them to develop greater empathy and insights into the impacts of their behaviour on the women and children in their lives. Thank you so much for your courage and strength. I am continually inspired by the women who continue to contribute to the cause of ending men’s violence. It’s time more men stood beside you in this, and you’ve inspired me to continue toward that goal.” Luke Addinsall | Clinical Specialist | Men and Family Centre