While we seem to have a month, week or day for a myriad of causes these days, this is one issue that deserves all of those 31 days to raise awareness of the problem.
Negative statistics about domestic violence abound, but the one positive note is that if we cast our minds back a generation or two, it was a topic that was swept under the carpet or talked about in hushed tones of shame. And the victim was the one supposed to be ashamed—somehow the perpetrator of the violence was ignored.
Fast forward to 2017 and the clear message from many experts, including former Victoria Police commissioner Ken Lay, is that domestic violence is never acceptable and it’s up to all of us to tackle the issue.
The victim statistics are horrifying—The Australian Bureau of Statistics says that one in six Australian women had experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner.
So can things change?
One thing that has changed is the introduction of many behaviour change programs for violent men to address behavioural issues and work on making changes.
While this is not a universal panacea, recent media reports have shown that positive change can happen.
A new study from Monash University’s Department of Social work and the national charity Violence Free Families has found that weekly programs run over six months have made a difference, with 64 percent of men who completed the program being largely violence-free two years on.
Chairman of Violence Free Families, David Smythe said that behavioural programs are a cost-effective tool that makes a positive difference.
“The research was very encouraging because it showed the men were making substantial reform and maintaining it, though often with some difficulty,” he told The Age.
More programs are needed, especially in regional areas, and there is often a waiting list of six months.
Ken Lay is clear about the role society in general has to play in reducing domestic violence.
“What will continue to drive change are the voices of powerful men. Men who are willing to call out the bad behaviours, men who are willing the challenge the status quo, who are determined to help young boys become respectful and considerate, gentle, and who will not meekly stand by and let behaviours, words or attitudes go unchallenged,” he told Warcry.
That’s a challenge we must all accept for the good of society—and if we need a role model for how women should be treated, then open the Bible and see how respectfully Jesus treated the female sex.