The lethal killer no-one talks about: silence

If I were to ask you right now what the big issues plaguing Australian society were, what might you say? Homelessness? Climate change? Cost of living? Coles’ ludicrous decision to discontinue their salted caramel and white chocolate cookies?

Certainly all decent guesses, and not necessarily incorrect…but statistics tell us of a different problem that is worryingly larger than most people realise.

Domestic and family violence is an issue that is commonly forgotten, overlooked or hastily pushed to the margins of conversation; and although we’re now in the promised land of 2020, the “mind-your-own-business” attitude our society espouses and unshakeable taboos that ensue as an extent, has meant that it remains as prevalent as ever before.

Let’s quantify that – prevalent can be an ambiguous word, after all.

That’s one police call-out specific to this issue every two minutes. That’s domestic and family violence being a factor in 40% of all murders. That’s one woman per week murdered by her current of former partner.

So yeah, pretty prevalent.

But what is perhaps more worrying, is that even the information we do have, is likely not the whole story. Although statistically, 25% of women have experienced abuse by a current or former partner, over 80% who experienced partner violence don’t actually report it to the police. Read that again. We’re dealing with something that is far greater than we can understand, which begs the question: how can we overcome an issue that extends so far beyond our grasp?

A good start is to tackle the root of the problem. The formidable silence that holds victims captive and reduces potential supporters to mere bystanders, is the perfect breeding ground for shame. As a result, it does an outstanding job of perpetuating this toxic cycle – in other, better-rhymed words: silence breeds violence.

This would suggest then, that in order to disrupt the cycle, we need to create loud, clear dialogue surrounding domestic violence in both our personal discussions and public discourse. And there’s one lady who’s doing this very, very well.

Last week we were incredibly fortunate to have Vanessa Fowler on our podcast, ‘Random Conversations with Phil’. Vanessa has made it her job to talk about domestic and family violence with as much noise as she can muster. Vanessa also happens to be the sister of the late Allison Baden-Clay.

For many Australians, this name holds a certain significance, denoting a particular murder case that seized the nation by storm in 2012. Allison was killed by her husband, in the final, devastating end to an ongoing cycle of violence and manipulation within their marriage – a cycle, Vanessa says in retrospect, that could have been broken.

It is important to note though, that Vanessa Fowler has not let this one, heart-shattering incident dictate the rest of her life. She has gone on to chair The Allison Baden-Clay Foundation, was named Ipswich Citizen of the Year for 2019 and continues to do incredible work within the community around raising awareness on domestic and family violence.

Vanessa is a wonderful spokesperson and joins Phil in what becomes a very personal and valuable discussion. You can listen to the full episode on the link below or wherever you get your podcasts:

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