A CONVERSATION over a cup of coffee could save a life.
That’s the aim of the #16dayscoffeecups campaign that will begin on Friday as part of the global 16 Days of Activism initiative.
Cafes across the south-west will serve up thousands of hot drinks in vivid orange coffee cups carrying messages about domestic violence and gender equality.
It’s also hoped the campaign will help address gender equality issues.
It is hoped people of all ages and from all walks of life will help spread the powerful messages about ending the cycle of domestic violence and gender inequality.
Corangamite Shire has urged residents to support the campaign by purchasing one of the orange coffee cups.
Social media has become a “sea of orange”, delighting Women’s Health and Wellbeing Barwon South West executive officer Emily Lee-Ack.
Solicitor Carolyn Howe sees the impacts of domestic violence on a daily basis. She spoke to The Standard in November last year.
There are six different messages that adorn the orange coffee cups.
Most people say one or two of the messages resonate more strongly with them than others.
Last year, former Sydney Swans player Luke Ablett spoke about one of them.
He spoke about this one – “You play like a girl … should not be an insult.”
Here’s his story:
Very early on I learnt that one of the worst things for a boy or young man is to be called a girl. No one sits you down and tells you this, but you learn it through the way people around you speak.
You don’t want to play like a girl, kick like a girl, run like a girl, cry like a girl, speak like a girl.
This is just one of the ways that young men learn that to be a girl is bad, and sows the seeds that men are better than women.
Young women also internalise this language and start to believe it about themselves. And given gender inequity is the major driver of men’s violence against women, this language is very important.
The other driver of men’s violence against women is outdated ideas of what it means to be a man. For too many people, to be a man means to be violent. And there is more and more research that says young men use violence when their masculinity is challenged and they need to reclaim it. Or in other words, they act like a “man” when they fear they’re acting too much like a “girl”.
For this reason, boys and girls, men and women, need positive, strong role models who challenge these outdated ideas and promote more equal relationships between males and females.
Recent research by Our Watch found that 17 per cent (one in six) of young people aged 12 to 24 are on the edge of potentially perpetrating violence towards women. The overwhelming majority of these young people are males.
Moreover, young males aged 14 to 15 are over-represented in segments that hold attitudes that justify violent and controlling behaviours. Some are on a trajectory towards potentially perpetrating violence against females. This doesn’t mean that these men are definitely going to grow up to use violence, but it does show how transformative this age is for young men.
It’s uncomfortable to acknowledge that men use violence at far higher rates than women. They will also hold attitudes that condone or excuse violence more than women. This is why the work that I, and so many others do, focuses on what makes a good man, and how we can reduce the level of violence in our community.
I know this phrase gets used a lot, but while we know that while most violence against men and women is perpetrated by men, the majority of men are not violent. These men can have enormous influence in reducing men’s violence against women well into the future.
I’ve spent most of my life in and around sporting clubs and I know how great they can be but also how hard they can be. I consider myself very lucky that throughout my sporting life I was surrounded by great role models and great people. But not everyone is, and there is a huge role that local sports can play in shaping the attitudes of young people, especially in those vital years around 15.
One of the most important things that anyone can do is to challenge those who excuse violence or blame victims. I’m sure we’ve all heard comments such as, “she shouldn’t have worn that dress if she didn’t want the attention”, or “he was pretty drunk so he didn’t really mean it”. These attitudes are so harmful because those who believe them are more likely to use violence themselves.
Finally, we need to move beyond the simple “real men don’t hit women” idea and challenge the underlying causes of violence against women; gender inequality and strict adherence to gender stereotypes. For boys and girls to grow up thinking that men and women are truly equal they must be surrounded by that equality from their earliest days. Only when this happens will we see these concerning attitudes begin to change.
Luke Ablett is a former Sydney Swans player, a gender equity advocate and an ambassador for Our Watch’s The Line campaign.
CONTROL IS ANOTHER FORM OF ABUSE
A victim of abuse spoke to Fairfax Media about her horrifying experience at the hands of her partner, which relates to the coffee cup message – “No one should live with violence and fear.”
By ERIN HANDLEY
HE didn’t ever hit her. He didn’t have to.
Instead he wielded power and control through intimidation and fear.
At first, survivor Jessica* didn’t recognise the violence her intimate partner was committing against her.
“He wasn't hitting me or kicking me or being physical, so even I didn't acknowledge that as violence at first,” Jessica said.
“It was more the fear and intimidation – there was stalking.”
Now 25, Jessica can clearly see the pattern of control which went largely ignored by her rural community, and, alarmingly, by police.
They had been dating for eight months when she fell pregnant.
He expected her to quit her nursing studies and move several hours to his town where she knew no one – which she did.
His violent tendencies rose to the surface after she had the baby.
He would take her pram so she couldn’t go for a walk with her son; he would take her wallet or her car without telling her; he would snap the key in the lock so she and the baby couldn’t get into the house.
“I was stuck - I couldn't leave because he had me convinced he was going to get custody, but I couldn't stay because I didn't want my son to grow up in that family,” she said.
When Jessica decided to leave him, “that’s when it got a whole lot worse”.
“He was showing up in places that he shouldn't have been and he shouldn't have known where I was,” she said.
He lived hours away, so it was odd and frightening that he kept appearing.
“I actually went and got my car checked over because I thought there was a tracking device in there,” she said.
Jessica still doesn’t know how he tracked her.
The violence escalated one day as she was driving to meet him with her son near a park.
He and three of his friends jumped out of the bushes and started grabbing things from her car, throwing them to the ground.
His family members also started abusing her verbally.
With her babe in arms, she picked up the pieces from the roadside while they threw her belongings out.
“The police didn't come. They were called three times,” she said.
“Eventually that night I went into the station and I got a female police officer, who took out the intervention order straight away.”
When Jessica first confided and sought help in the wake of his controlling behaviour, she was not believed.
“Especially when it’s not physical violence, women feel they won’t be believed - they don’t have a bruise to show,” Jessica said.
The problem was compounded by living in a small country town, where she was blamed for his violent acts towards her, or for leaving and having custody of her son.
“Some people would come up to me and blatantly say… ‘I can't believe you've done this to him’,” she said.
Now Jessica has returned to study with a renewed passion and purpose for helping women in violent situations like her own.
Centre for Non Violence prevention manager Robyn Trainor said Jessica’s case was not a rare one.
“There are really entrenched beliefs in our community that women and children are property,” Ms Trainor said.
“Often gender stereotypes are more rigid in small communities and often family violence is invisible - it happens behind closed doors and it’s seen as a private issue, not a public issue.”
She said while improvements had been made, there was still a long way to go.
“People think the police response has improved and there is no tolerance, but the reality is often very different,” Ms Trainor said.
“A lot of women do seek support but they are not believed.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing violence or sexual assault, phone 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732.
*Jessica is a pseudonym to protect the survivor’s identity.
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STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN – WHAT YOU CAN DO
Stand up, speak out and act to stop domestic violence and abuse
To end men’s violence against women we must stand up, speak out and act. Silence and inaction will let this violence continue. Here are some tips on how to stop domestic violence and abuse.
Tips for speaking out
Sometimes it is hard to know what to say when someone makes an inappropriate statement about women or behaves inappropriately towards a woman. Try one of the following tactics.
If you are with friends and someone says something that makes you uncomfortable or that you feel is wrong, you can say: “I’m not sure what you mean. What did you say?”
Sometimes people forget they are talking about a real person. To remind them and change the conversation, you can say: “What if this was your sister/daughter/son?”
Give your opinion to show your disapproval: “I believe abusing a woman is wrong.”
If you are with a group of people, you’re probably not the only one feeling uncomfortable. Let others know they are not alone and encourage them to speak up by asking: “Am I the only one uncomfortable with this?”
Safely intervene when you see violence happening
If you witness violence, focus on what you can do. Always keep yourself and others safe.
Call 000 in an emergency. You can also:
- call the police
- be a witness — stand somewhere close but safe so the violent person knows they are being watched
- ask for help from people near you.
Talking to men who are using violence against women
If you talk to someone you think is violent to women, they will probably tell you to mind your own business, make excuses or deny it.
If you see violence and abuse, and you feel safe, talk about the behaviour you have seen: “You are my friend but I think the way you criticise and intimidate her is wrong.”
If a woman has told you about violence against her
Remember: if you only know about the violence because the woman has told you about it, check with her first before saying anything to her partner. Her partner could become more violent if he thinks she has told someone about the abuse.
If you find out about violence
If you find out about violence, you can:
– talk to the woman and let her know you are willing to help her — find out what help is available to her and offer to help her access support
- talk to a group of the perpetrator’s friends and/or a group of the victim’s friends and develop a group response.
Students and young people
If you are a student or young person, speak to someone you trust, for example a teacher or doctor. Tell them what you know and ask them to do something or ask them to advise you on what you should do.
Act! Get involved in violence prevention
There are many things you can do to stop domestic violence and abuse before it happens.