On 25 November, hundreds of Victorians will join the 2016 Walk Against Family Violence. Captain Michelle Davies-Kildea, chaplain at The Salvation Army Family Violence Service Crisis Services St Kilda, tells Warcry why we must speak up about this epidemic.
What is Walk Against Family Violence and why is it important?
The Walk Against Family Violence began in 2009 by a committee of family violence services including The Salvation Army Family Violence Service Crisis Services St Kilda, local council and Victoria Police in the southern region to raise community awareness of family violence and its impact on the community.
The purpose of the walk is to break the silence around family violence. Family violence is a problem for all of society and we all have a responsibility to make changes within our own families, workplaces, schools and communities to be accountable and to no longer ignore the effect of violence against women in general.
What is family violence and who does it affect?
Family violence takes many forms, such as physical or sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, economic abuse—such as withholding money or family resources, threats or coercion, isolating you from family and friends, harming things you love such as pets or personal belongings, controlling or dominating you, causing you to fear for your safety or the wellbeing of another person or causing your child to hear, witness or otherwise be exposed to the effects of violence.
Family violence can happen to anyone. It is mainly committed by men against women, children and vulnerable people. The effects of family violence upon women and children have huge impacts on their physical, psychological and emotional wellbeing. It affects the entire community regardless of location, socio-economic and health status, age, culture, sexual identity, ability, ethnicity or religion.
We’ve heard more about family violence in the press due to advocates such as Rosie Batty, and learnt that one in three women in Australia are affected by family violence. How has this affected women and children affected by domestic violence?
The profile of family violence has been elevated since the tragic death of Luke Batty at the hands of his father and the subsequent Royal Commission into Family Violence. Raising the profile of family violence has encouraged conversations about men who commit violence, and hopefully has educated people on different forms of violence.
It has enabled funds to be made available to support those going through family violence and has committed our community to addressing the systemic and underlying issues about the causes of family violence.
How does your faith impact your work?
Restoring what is broken is at the heart of Christianity, so I want to be about that business of redemption—whether that’s about helping someone who’s been a victim/survivor of family violence, someone who’s found themselves without a home or someone who is lonely and isolated in our community.
What can we do to support the Walk Against Family Violence?
We’d love to see as many people come together to draw a line in the sand and stand up for those who are victims of violence in relationships. Come as you are and join us on Friday, 25 November at 1 pm at Federation Square in Melbourne.
If you are experiencing family violence, call 000 or Safe Steps on 1800 015 188.