The burden of Male Primacy. It has long played a part in the community attitudes towards women in social norms. The primary prevention tool for domestic violence, violence against women and male suicide is removing this burden of authority, control and power; and reach an understanding of gender parity that focus’ on developing an attitude of self determination and interdependence in domestic relationships.
Now the language used above describes an enormous and somewhat elusive goal for much of society who have been conditioned to default authority to the male gender. That means the decisions and choices are determined by the ‘man of the house’ and the ‘toxic’ behaviours are accepted or excused. Women are assigned assumed roles of ‘making a home’ and their opinion is valued as less than. Over the past 50 years this has seen dramatic changes; but for the 33% of women who report domestic violence and the 1 in 6 women who are abused at one point in their lifetime and for the thousands of incidents that go unreported, ‘there is still work to be done’ according the the NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller, White Ribbon Day interview 2018.
Millions of dollars are spent every year on strategies and programs to support women who are effected by abusive domestic relationships or become the victims of violence from men. Whether it is physical, emotional, psychological, financial or spiritual; every human is given the birth right of self determination.
It is their independence and identity that empowers them with choices and decisions that comes with the full responsibility for their actions, behaviour, emotions, responses and reactions.
Organisations like White Ribbon and many Government agency continue to pour effort, time and money into the primary prevention strategy; education and are effecting generational change with programs like Breaking the Silence. Policy’s continue to challenge Male Primacy in male industries, the workplace, cinema and public arenas and yet the impact of exposing Domestic Violence evokes shame which significantly increases the threat and risk to a womens safety or the children in a relationship.
Support for the role of a male at home, at work and in the community means accepting change within the normal roles of men and women in society. Restoring balance without blame is the responsibility of men and women. Evidence in the Royal Commission into Family Violence (Melbourne) found the burden for men to provide financially and women to be assumed traditional roles in the home are the root cause of violence against women.
Whilst there are many factors that influence domestic violence, the general health, wellbeing, levels of self worth and independence of individuals in a relationship go through numerous changes over its’ course. Boundaries are blurred as home becomes a comfortable place to vent and express or uncomfortable and unsafe causing suppression.
“There is no doubt that violence against women and children is deeply rooted in power imbalances that are reinforced by gender norms and stereotypes.”
An important theory to consider is the ‘chilling effect’ whereby people are sensitive to the repeated behaviour, response or reaction to information or expressions of pain, hurt, fear and anger. It causes men and women to loose trust in their partners ability to cope. It impacts on their ability to be vulnerable for fear of judgement or blame. It creates a chill in the air, one that can be cut with a knife, a void between lovers and a loss of intimacy and connection.
Whilst commitment and faith in relationships may waver, there is a call to action for women to apply self care, ask for support and develop a network that provides for them at the time of their need. Motherhood is a demanding time and often limiting financially, physically, mentally and emotionally as you navigate the care needs of a young child. The assumption of home duties is gone and many families do report to adopt a shared arrangement that is agreed upon and supported.
Despite the strong foundations of the current framework addressing family violence, the Royal Commission identified gaps and obstacles that limit effective implementation of laws, policies and programs . It does not have to get bad before you do something, it may have veered off course, you might be seeing red flags (contributing factors) or feeling the innate intuition that something isn’t right. Feminism has paved the way for self care to be a priority and when we are fully supported we can support men to fully embrace the vulnerability of marriage, relationships, home ownership and financial pressure, mental health, alcohol and drug addictions.
“All parts of the system—support services, police, courts—are overwhelmed by the number of family violence incidents now reported. Services are not currently equipped to meet this high level of demand, which undermines the safety of those experiencing family violence and their potential for recovery.” – Royal Commission into Family Violence: Report and recommendations (2015)
Husbands, fathers, grandfathers, sons, brothers, uncles, nephews and cousins face the same fears as Wives, sisters, grandmothers, daughters, aunties and nieces. Fear of rejection and fears of failure with the overall feeling of never being good enough creating negative self talk and low self esteem. If we can all recognise that the other persons behaviour has nothing to do with us and is not a direct attack on our identity, character or personality then we can offer the support of holding space for them whilst they sort that emotion, thought or belief out for themselves.
PROTECTION STRATEGIES -SELF CARE
Yes you are required to build resilience, persist and tolerate but not to the detriment of your own mental, emotional, financial, spiritual or physical health. Primary prevention is education of all ages, focusing on the root cause and maintaining boundaries and personal safety. Taking control of yourself and developing an attitude based on solutions not blame is a dynamic that can change the path of marriages, separations and co-parenting.
PROTECTION STRATEGIES – SUPPORT
There are many steps and actions to take including engaging counselling services, commence mediation for unsafe situations or partners who refuse to communicate.
PROTECTION STRATEGIES – POLICE
The role of the Police is to take reports, assess, investigate, provide low levels of protection, collect evidence and deal with criminal and civil right violations. The Police are an emergency service and understand that relationship breakdowns are a sensitive and emotional situation. Whilst legislative powers give authority and power for Police to become involved, you still have the option of consenting to have your matter dealt within this jurisdiction, understanding that for decades many women had a genuine fear of being injured or killed if they spoke up and legislation did not provide protection or prevent further occurrences.
SPEAK UP EVEN IF YOUR VOICE SHAKES. 1800RESPECT
If this is your fear it will be important for you to take complete responsibility for your safety and that of your children and report your concerns to the police or a clinical psychologist. There are numerous support groups available to speak to and I continue to interview those people who have the solutions, that when structured an combined can make a real difference to the way in which we all thrive, not just survive.
For more information about the recommendations of Family Violence see