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I’m honoured this week to offer you a Guest Post. For legal reasons the Author can’t be identified however she is someone who has my respect, admiration and love. Sometimes the greatest acts of courage are those that are never seen or acknowledged by someone else – but they are the ones that ultimately free you or someone you love. I only hope that in the same circumstance I could be as brave as her.

To the thousands who have been silenced, may your voices be heard through the small number who can speak up.To those who listen, amplify the stories for those who can’t speak.

From my beautiful guest …..

They can’t speak. Sadly, one other very real and prevalent reasons is that our legal system prevents talking about it. Women, who are victims of domestic violence, are silenced by the very court system in place to protect them.

This week we will see an influx of information in the media about domestic violence. It will be a week that newspapers, bloggers, magazines, posters all espouse the reasons for the ongoing prevalence of this abomination in our society and what can be done to prevent it and help those who have fallen victim to it. Again and again we see the same questions asked of the victims:

1. Why did you stay?

2. Why didn’t you leave?

3. Why didn’t you tell anyone what was happening?

4. How could you put your children through that?

 In the aim of protecting children from news that women know will shatter their ideals and realities and dreams of men, mothers stay silent. Protecting their children from the reality of their existence.

I don’t suppose to answer any of these questions. I do not at any stage presume or assume that this is only a crime against females. I am female however, and don’t presume to know the experience for many men who are victims of domestic violence. I don’t know the individual women who are daily added to the statistics that make this sad, desperate issue one that touches so many families in such devastating ways but I have been a statistic myself.

Why don’t more women speak up? Why don’t more women become like Rosie Batty and advocate against domestic violence when they themselves have been victims? Why do women stay silent and not help their fellow womankind?

I do not believe that it is because they don’t want to. I don’t believe that it is because they are so shocked by their experience that they are silenced. Domestic Violence happens in all of our most affluent areas of society where tertiary educated women have been abused in all kinds of heinous ways. These women can speak and write and tell their story. Yet, they don’t. Why???

1. The children. Like any parent I understand the need to protect our children from news that is disturbing and will affect them in negative ways. The Paris attacks, bombings, slavery, abductions – all these things can be mainstream news that it is hard to protect children from. Violence in their own homes however, we are somehow meant to protect them from.

How does someone do this? They stay silent. They don’t say anything. In the aim of protecting children from news that women know will shatter their ideals and realities and dreams of men, mothers stay silent. Protecting their children from the reality of their existence.

2. They can’t speak. Sadly, one other very real and prevalent reasons is that our legal system prevents talking about it. Women, who are victims of domestic violence, are silenced by the very court system in place to protect them.

These laws are understandable in a system that is about the protection of children. I wholeheartedly agree that the children need to be kept away from so much of the awfulness of their parents experience. They deserve the right to innocence.

Often, women will apply to the courts to have clauses added to Family Court proceedings to prevent denigration of either parent in front of the children. This will include, but not be limited to, talking about abuse in front of the children, family talking about issues, publishing details on social media or other outlets, allowing children to see documents pertaining to proceedings. While, on the balance of objectivity, this all seems to be a logical and necessary step, it also means that any woman (or man) who is currently in Court or has been to Court where these orders are in place, is effectively silenced.

These laws are understandable in a system that is about the protection of children. I wholeheartedly agree that the children need to be kept away from so much of the awfulness of their parents experience. They deserve the right to innocence. Unfortunately though, these same laws protect the perpetrators of crime from having their actions brought into account from wider society. It also means that women (and men) are unable to stand up and tell their stories. They are unable to speak with a voice of conviction and solidarity with their fellow survivors. While their children and/or perpetrator lives, they are silenced.

For every story like Rosie Batty, there are thousands that cannot be told. There are children to be protected and lives to be restored and healed.

To the thousands who have been silenced, may your voices be heard through the small number who can speak up.

To those who listen, amplify the stories for those who can’t speak. Volunteer at shelters and listen to the stories. Stand alongside men who are against violence to women. Advocate for those who cannot speak.

Together we can help stop this scourge on our society.

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