by Judith Ireland
Australian of the Year Rosie Batty has spoken passionately about the reasons why some women do not leave violent relationships, noting they can be at the “highest point of risk” to be injured or killed when they leave their partner.
“All I can say is you have a fear that you can’t really explain, but it is a dread and it is a fear of what will happen next,” she told the ABC’s Q&A.
In a program focused on domestic violence, Ms Batty – whose son Luke was killed by his father Greg last year – described how your “self-worth and self-esteem can be affected very quickly,” in an abusive relationship.
She said that violence started off subtly and not at the “pointy end”.
Ms Batty noted that she was an educated, professional woman, and that domestic violence did not discriminate.
“If it can happen to me, it can happen to anybody,” she said.
In a message to victims who were watching the program, Ms Batty suggested they call 1800 Respect and speak to an expert who can support and empower them.
“I would say to you, ‘stay safe, but it will never get better. And you deserve more. You deserve to live a life where you can wake up every day and not have to worry about the day ahead.’”
Ambassador for Women and anti-violence campaigner Natasha Stott Despoja called for resources to be put in to primary prevention programs, to stop abuse before it happens.
The founding chair of the Foundation to Prevent Violence Against Women and their Children also talked about the need to have appropriate role models and education programs to address underlying issues of misogyny, as well as effective AVOs, police who believe women, and courts who understand domestic violence as a national emergency.
“International evidence tells us very clearly there are two key pre-determinates when it comes to the issue of violence against women,” Ms Stott Despoja said.
“Gender stereotyping and those rigid gender roles that do men and women no favours; and economic, social and political inequality that exists in our societies.”
In calling for more funds to address the issues, Ms Stott Despoja noted that domestic violence currently cost about $13.6 billion a year.
“So I plead to governments on an economic ground, apart from the horrific social and personal costs.”
One in six Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner.