White Ribbon Day 2020

White Ribbon Day in 2020 falls on 20 November and it is a day aimed at raising awareness and committing to action to prevent family and domestic violence. Domestic violence is violent or abusive behaviour towards another individual in an attempt to control and manipulate. Family violence is not purely physical however, there are various forms, including: emotional, verbal, psychological, social, financial and sexual abuse.

Previous years have focused on preventing men’s violence against women and children, however during the COVID-19 pandemic, we wish to acknowledge that family and domestic violence has taken many forms. This is includes violence towards:

  • females by male partners,
  • males by male partners,
  • males by female partners, and
  • elder violence perpetrated by their children.

Therefore, it is important to raise awareness and commit to action using a broader lens.

Domestic violence during COVID-19

Since the start of COVID-19, emerging data is indicating that domestic violence has intensified. One in ten Australian women reported experiencing emotional abuse, harassment and controlling behaviours during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Preliminary findings have suspected this increase in violence to be due to households (victims and perpetrators) spending more time together in cramped living conditions, increased social isolation, reduced social movement and time spent apart from abusers, additional situational stressors (financial, health and job insecurity) and increased alcohol consumption.

How to support someone who you know or suspect is experiencing violence

Someone who is experiencing domestic violence may be feeling guilt, self-blame or a number of other difficult emotions. They may be exhibiting some psychological warning signs, which indicate they are experiencing abuse, such as a shift from being confident, to having low self-esteem. Or even personality changes, shifting to being anxious, depressed or even suicidal.

If you have recognised some warning signs that your friend, family member, colleague or even neighbour may be experiencing domestic and family violence, it is important that you reach out to them in a safe, non-judgemental and supportive way.

Start the conversation by letting them know that you are concerned about their wellbeing, and that you are there to listen and support them. Initiate the “R U OK?” Conversation. If they disclose, communicate that you believe them, and empathise with them. Let them know that it is not their fault. Try and help them in evaluating their immediate and future safety, and that of their children and other family members.

If they choose not to disclose, remain supportive and reiterate that you are available to support if they ever need to speak.

When supporting someone you are concerned about, demonstrate active listening, and confirm you understand what they have told you, by repeating back what they’ve said to you. Don’t impose your views on what they should do and don’t push them to leave the relationship – this can be the most dangerous time for them. Agree on a plan together, by linking them in with the right support services.

If you are experiencing family violence, know that there is support available. 1800 RESPECT is a 24-hour national counselling service that you can call if you are at risk of, or experiencing family violence and need assistance.

Useful support services that are specific to your state, can be found on the White Ribbon website: https://www.whiteribbon.org.au/Find-Help/Support-Services

If someone you know is currently experiencing domestic violence, you can make yourself available for a conversation in a safe area to raise your concerns and listen completely and nonjudgmentally. Further, you can provide information surrounding the resources available. All individuals deserve to live a life free from domestic and family violence.