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If you can’t see the bruises . . .

“My thoughts on domestic violence – as a survivor”, by Tracie Aylmer.

When Steve Price delivered his “hysterical” comment last night on QandA, I wasn’t surprised. I was disappointed, but not at all surprised.

I have had to deal with comments and behaviours like this for a very long time. I have also had to deal with disbelief over my experiences, and an enormous amount of gaslighting – from both men and women. Few at the time wanted to believe that an ex-partner could smother me, and the fact that I felt in too much fear to go to the police about it. Few wanted to believe that he stalked me, until I left the state. Few supported me.

Steve Price’s ‘gaslighting’ is how the community has typically reacted to experiences of domestic violence, in particularly emotional, mental and financial abuse. If you can’t see the bruises, people don’t usually want to know about it.

There are many instances where people want to think that only women are abused from male partners. This is false, and does incredible damage to the community. It targets only one group of people, to the detriment of others. I read comments on the QandA Facebook page where a woman stated that men don’t suffer domestic violence. This is untrue. Domestic violence is the action of a perpetrator against a victim. To target one group of people that legitimately and statistically feel the adverse affects is detrimental to the community as a whole.

We need to stop how domestic violence is perceived, and change the story quickly. We need full community inclusiveness. To do otherwise does not give the full picture.

We also need funding – desperately. We need women only refuges, men only refuges, and refuges particularly targeted to each group of people that suffer. We need therapy, and inclusiveness. We need all the things that I was denied, and we need it for the whole community. Not just one part.

And, we need the legal system to step up – urgently – and listen to those with lived experience. We know much more about domestic violence than what others think. Doing this will save not just the billions of dollars that politicians typically only think about, but more importantly . . . lives.

 

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  1. diannaart

    Angry men are so acceptable that SOME actually make a very good living from it; Andrew Bolt, Steve Price, Donald Trump, Alan Jones and so many more.

  2. wam

    a shag, root, quickie are merely about a warm soft moist hole. They have no connection with love, caring, understanding, respect or thought.
    Sex is merely the reflex action of why men and women are on earth ie to give or take genes. A simple process of pure Darwinian drive.
    Many men, don’t think or struggle to understand why it is different for women.
    True I am old but my lesson on sex from my dad was a visit to a sex worker but that was stopped by mum. The lovely old man then told me. ‘Son, you must remember where you go in a baby comes out!’ So while elvis was singing heartbreak hotel I was terrified of girls and 11 years before I married and discovered.
    My family discussed price, in the context of eddie, sam and ‘don’t touch a man’s wallet or his wife’ and we hope the new women’s league and netball might break the nexus between the role of women in society and in football.
    After such a memory, I am loath to add that I believe any concession that men suffer from domestic violence diminishes the word(just as bullying has been broadened into uselessness) Perhaps children do not fit the concept of domestic violence despite they and men do suffer violence within a family. Therefore limited money and limited resources refuges for women and children

  3. townsvilleblog

    Both the author of this article and Van Badham are correct these bully boys with who have the intelligence of the average ameba think they are clever, how they come to be popular radio announcers baffles me, because their attitudes stretch back to the 1950s. Society has come a long way since then, and women are considered equal at least and probably superior in most instances I would think. I know I’d be paralyzed without my loving wife.

  4. townsvilleblog

    wam, raises sex, I have very rarely had sex. Most of my encounters have been making love, taking the ladies thoughts and desires into account so that the situation is a satisfying occasion for both of us, with the lady sometimes leading with what she wants out of the situation. Just sex, can be had by two stray dogs leaning against a lamp post. Not for me.

  5. DisablednDesperate

    Over my many years I’ve been abused in different ways by partners bit my most shocking experience was at the hand of my brother. When I went to get help the older male cop said “brothers don’t assault sisters. You are lying. ” I was black and blue. I asked if he thought id done it to myself. I was gobsmacked.

    All the platitudes in the world won’t help. Only money for support will.

  6. JEANETTE

    As a survivor of domestic violence, leaving a 4 broom 3 bathroom house with $65 in my pocket 2 children and a dog and nowhere to go was the best decision I have made. A long time ago when the Family Court was a new being having moved away from the old system of blame I of course stupidly I believed that all things were to be equal, how wrong I was. Dominated by mainly men at that stage I experienced the bias, mysoginist view in that courtroom. Through this experience, I decided that this would never happen to me again and set about changing my thinking and life, through a lot of struggle over the years I opened my own business, I was feted by many in the industry I was in and grew in confidence. Notwithstanding, prior to that I was sacked from 2 jobs after in both cases becoming aware of criminal activities within the 2 workplaces, the 2nd dismissal was also because of sexual harrassment by a Board member, I refused his sexual advances. This was the real beginning of the me of today by virtue of contacting the print all Press that existed at that time. This ended up with the closing up the organisation I had worked for by authorities and for bringing great change of reporting contributions by all charities.

    However, violence particularly domestic violence has many repercussions beyond the immediate victim, children and other family members are involved as in any divorce the realisation comes that this is a lifetime sentence. The continual interference and demands by ex spouses is constant that for the primary victim means the constant struggle in dealing with this while trying to maintain a normal existence for children and trying to protect them from negativity or danger. Of course this is not practiced by the Perp where in the main nothing but negativity is constant. This attitude goes back to Neanderthal times, is still practiced by many religious groups and countries that women and children are possessions. While this is not the case for main street Australia, men perpetrators of domestic violence, still have in their DNA that these are his possessions.
    Steve Price’ comments only enforce this thinking, Neanderthal thinking. Apart from a labotomy or a restructuring of their DNA change will only come when they die. Newman in my opinion is an idiot and I would not give that man oxygen, Maguire, I have no comment on, would not give him typing space.

    Sadly, as in my case when children become adults memories of your efforts to try and give them a normal existence do not always become a memory for them. Rather, through strong persuasion and “the possession” attitude they reinforce the status of you as victim again by accepting false history by the perp Having learnt from many parents in “perfect” relationships over the years that any child as adult will turn and blame the parents for their problems, rather than taking responsibility for their own actions has assisted in my own understanding and acceptance that there are some things you cannot change.

    I have been fortunate to be able to compartmentalised horrible issues in my life and to just get on with living. We all only usually get one chance at life.

  7. Kyran

    Thank you, Ms Aylmer, most particularly for the last two paragraphs. Whilst your article references the trauma of the experience and the need for a holistic response by a caring society, we have been left, yet again, with a discussion on an individual.
    Mr Lord described him as priceless. I would describe him as worthless.
    Wrong place. Wrong time. Wrong fecking century.

    I could be callous, and refer to this as an economic problem. In which case;
    “•The social and economic costs of violence against women are considerable. In 2009 the National Council to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children (NCRVWC) estimated that violence against women and their children, including both domestic and non-domestic violence, cost the Australian economy $13.6 billion.”

    http://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiPxuXVyu_NAhWGoJQKHYE3CmAQFggeMAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aph.gov.au%2FAbout_Parliament%2FParliamentary_Departments%2FParliamentary_Library%2Fpubs%2Frp%2Frp1415%2FViolenceAust&usg=AFQjCNEB2CRLIspVnoyKH5xhukiGso43ag

    I could be critical of the cuts to the ‘DV’ budget by tiny and the euphoria of talcum’s reinstatement of a third of the budget. If memory serves me, tiny cut $300mil and talcum replaced $100mil.
    The Victorian government committed over $500mil in their most recent budget to address DV issues (social, legal, support services, etc).
    This is before any conversation of gender equality in terms of income and superannuation. We can’t possibly countenance our women folk having such independence. It’s not like they can vote, all on their own, without the guidance of their fathers or husbands, is it?
    Wrong place. Wrong time. Wrong fecking century.
    My callous disregard of the individual traumas associated with DV is nothing short of reprehensible. It is not like this is an economic problem. Thank’s again, Ms Aylmer. Take care

  8. Jack Russell

    It’s pretty clear cut to me. Anyone who is not against violence is, by default, for it.

    Perpetrators are always perpetrators. Remove them from society at the first offence. If you violate the rights of another you automatically forfeit your own. I’ve endured enough monsters over a lifetime to have no tolerance for them, or those who make excuses for them, or those who make a living standing up for them.

    Remove them from society at the first offence, and transfer all their possessions to the victim/s. Problem solved.

  9. Tracie

    Thank you to all for your very kind comments. They all mean a lot to me.

    The most ironic thing is that even though I can’t quite recall exact dates of much of the stuff he did, even after 13 and 1/2 years I remember exactly what happened when he smothered me. It was at around 12:30am as 16 December 2002 ticked by. I say around because that was the last time I checked the clock, before going to bed, him sitting on top of me, putting the quilt over my face and his arm across my nose.

    Still, I wasn’t believed, because there’s no photographic evidence of him doing it to me.

    I have an emotional box that I put all of these events into. This is now going back into the box, so I can focus on the next steps of my illustrious career on international criminal law.

  10. Paul

    @ Jack Russell, that is exactly the stated aim of my abusive ex wife.
    To have me locked up.
    She had moved out but was keen to have the house and assets.
    Her tactic was to assault me then ring the police, or ring the police and then assault me, by the time the police arrived she would have the place in turmoil and be a blubbering heap on the floor. She eventually came unstuck when she called the police, stormed the house just as they arrived, fell into a blubbering heap as usual, and I was working interstate.
    How do the police know who is doing the violence they have statements from two people completely at odds?
    Leave it up to the courts, sorry, my experience with crusty old judges and their preconceived ideas when attempting to get an AVO against my ex to stop the home invasions leaves me very fearful of that. Four times in court and eleven weeks before I finally got a female judge who granted the AVO. To celebrate I shouted myself to a coffee, my ex followed me and trashed the cafe, She finally found out that the law does apply to her.

    18 years and I still get upset by people assuming that they can fix it by locking men up.

  11. Jack Russell

    A dreadful soul-destroying experience Paul, and I am so sorry you had to go through it, and I do know how you feel.

    My reference to perpetrator, however, wasn’t gender-specific – it was inclusive.

    I care about abusers of either gender being removed from society. I particularly care about the kids, most of whom never recover, and some of whom don’t survive at all.

    I also loathe the rotten system that has never faced it squarely, has never made eliminating this behaviour a serious and vigilant priority, and never adequately protected and provided for the victim.

  12. dspoverseas

    Thanks for saying that men cop domestic abuse as well.
    In a more than 20 year marriage I was stabbed, punched, kicked, had wine thrown over me in public and abused verbally almost daily.
    People ask me why I stayed that long but I completely understand how women feel that they are trapped in a violent relationship.
    The fear and control is complete.

  13. Tracie

    I really dislike when people try to shut the conversation down by claiming that DV is only men against women. They ignore all the other victims who have great difficulty in speaking out, due to shame over assumed roles in society or because they physically can’t.

    I’m glad you finally did get out. It would have taken absolutely everything for you to do so.

  14. Matt

    Thanks for this Article,

    I saw a sticker on a car “Stop violence against Women” – I wondered how many men and boys took the message as: “who cares about violence against boys and men?” – let them suffer violence at home, at school (as I did both) – it is only women who need defending. So where does this leave men? If you are not in power, men are just cannon fodder for the wars of the rich, or if not that, fodder for their mills (their businesses) which without recent severe workplace laws, were dangerous toxic places, and many still are, with mostly men exposed to these risks – dangerous chemicals, unsafe sites, etc. I experienced workplaces where workplace safety told management that uncontained chemicals (cadmium, mercury and lead) where placing employees at risk. 18 months later when I left, nothing had been done to correct this. So while we care for and about women, men are just supposed to be tough, starting with boys. No wonder, after generations of wars where men have been decimated (WW1) traumatised (WW1, WW2, Vietnam, Iraq, Afganistan) they are brutalised and some turning into brutes themselves – that is how they have been raised – in a violent world, which is seen as normal – what else would you expect? What other behaviours should they learn from this? Eventually I guess this attitude will lead us the way of America, where everyday men can just be shot at will by police in the street – all to protect the rights and property of the rich and powerful.

    Of course, we could say enough-is-enough – violence against men is also not acceptable, nor is sending them to fight worse than useless foreign wars that fan the flames of global violence even further – why not say we want to protect and heal our men (and boys)? Perhaps through this, will see the flow on effects through our our society, and our families. What about a new narrative? What about the restoration of the respectability of the “gentle” man?

  15. Tracie

    @Matt

    Thank you for your comment. It is quite needed to hear it, particularly from a man’s viewpoint.

    I classify everything that you are saying as part of the patriarchal philosophy. This is why patriarchy is not just against women in sexism and with other matters, but also against men with everything within your comment. I classify patriarchy as the rich against everyone else. The fact that men are shamed to act in a particular manner is so incredibly wrong. This is also why male DV victims can’t bring themselves to find help.

    While I worked as a solicitor pro bono in a legal community centre, a man walked in asking what to do about the woman who was abusing him. I made him go to the police and give a statement. The woman had done incredible damage to his house, called him constantly at work and did other very shameful acts. While at the police station, they went to her and asked her to leave. She said she’d leave on Tuesday. She kept threatening that for months. Eventually, the police said that this was a ‘normal’ relationship and he should get past it. He received very little support, other than later on with a stronger domestic violence order (he already had one in place at the time). It still didn’t quite help. The last time I heard, she was still trying to bring destruction to his life. This man was nice and kind, and should never have had hell wrought upon him. He didn’t deserve the treatment she gave him.

    I hope that if I keep saying that DV is in relation to a perpetrator against a victim, it might sink in.

  16. Matt

    Yes, thanks Tracie,

    I generally agree with your interpretation of ‘partriachy’, although I would tempted to replace ‘rich’ with ‘powerful’. As it seems anyone with perhaps even minor power adopts the attitudes and behaviours of what you seem to be refering to as ‘the patriarchy’ to those in their power. Thus the behaviour of police in America, even though they are not rich themselves, they project the behaviour and attitudes of the rich and powerful. It is these attitudes that I think need to change.

    Matt

  17. Dan Rowden

    Stop violence against Women

    Expressio unius est exclusio alterius

  18. diannaart

    Thanks for the translation Matt.

    However, it is possible to take turns in speaking – its called a discussion. I don’t see why speaking out about DV against woman needs to be at the expenses of men who have suffered.

    Perhaps the men, who have experienced DV at the hands of women, could write an article for AIM and become a part of the discussion.

    I’d also like to see some articles on violence against men by other men.

    As well as articles about violence by women against other women.

    While I’m on a roll, we need to air the horror of abuse of the elderly by their male and female children.

    Violence – not a binary issue.

  19. Matt

    Great Invitation diannaart,

    I have no problem with discussion, or talking about the various forms of violence and the various victims. It needs to be talked about, because it has been underlying human culture for long enough now (i.e ‘forever’ up till now) and we need to move past it.

    However, I do have a problem with catch-phrase slogans that attempt to capture complex issues in one line (or less!). This approach – which seems to have grown from the 60’s and 70’s didn’t really work then, and actually was probably more of a co-opting of corporate and political approaches to guiding public opinion – but everyone please – enough of mindless and simplistic sound bites that demonise one party or another and try to boil down complex issues to simple statements. The world is more complex than this – so let us and try and bring that into our language and discussions so that we can meaningfully deal with it. I suggest that normal, healthy people are not violent – if violence is endemic let us look at what is causing it – casting one entire sex as perpetrators and the other as victims does not help – not only is it mis-representing the problem, but perpetrators and victims alike do not exist in a vacuum.

    So, yes – I agree entirely not a binary issue – as many other issues we face are not binary, but perhaps we as a population can start to use our language and thinking capacities more carefully and considerately than our politicians do – as this approach of our politicians is proving increasingly useless at dealing with any of the major problems our society is facing.

    Sorry to rave on, but I think our society is in serious trouble, and we need to work together to solve these problems, and where possible look at helping those who have been damaged by the ‘system’ (which is probably everyone in different ways and to different degrees) and look at moving our society forward on a new basis of compassion and care, not blame.

  20. Tracie

    Our society is in serious trouble. I think many of us can give solutions that aren’t being listened to by politicians.

    I also think that you could write an excellent piece, Matt. You have the lived experience. I want to hear what you think in more detail.

  21. Matt

    Thanks Tracie,

    Look, the experience has plaqued me and my sibilings my whole life, in terms of the questions it has raised as to what was going on, why it could (and has) never been faced up to or admitted by either parent really, even when directly asked about it, they shift to another topic. Strange thing is I was much angrier at my mother – who just watched these things happen and never said or did anything (he never threatened her) and never even offered any comfort afterwards – just went on as though nothing had happened. On reflection, I suspect she didn’t really want to go through the difficulties of leaving or the trouble of getting help, but I could be wrong. Thus my concern that while women talk about how vulnerable they are, children are even more voiceless and powerless than women are, but they seem to have dropped of the agenda in this campaign. And I think boys in particular are left out. People get upset and think it intolerable if a girl is hit, but it seems boys are supposed to be tough enough just to cop it and cope. How do they cope? Perhaps they get angry and violent themselves? (I didn’t but I did for a while feel a strong inclination to go down that path) They are never supposed to show weakness or vulnerability – this is seen as despicable in men, so many go around pretending to be tough, or trying to be , when really perhaps they are not so tough, and thus cannot really cope – showing the only the behaviour that is seen as acceptable to men – violence and anger (but never cry, people will just turn away). So basically, I think we as a society need to take a lot more care of our men, and be more concerned about their welfare, then these other matters may start to improve.

  22. Tracie

    There’s much that I can’t say publicly about my own childhood, but yeah. I understand and I agree with you.

    At one point, I was trying to make change to include others within a different platform. I left that platform in the middle of it all. Others decided that the platform should only be about men against women. I had wanted to include men, but some wanted to include children, as well as other disadvantaged.

    It appears that the philosophy of ‘men against women’ within the platform won out. That’s a real shame, as children grow up to accept the dysfunction. They need to be looked after. In essence, even now I’m not really seeing it.

    I had an idea of children in schools having a buddy system. It’s nearly impossible for a child to go to a teacher, but if there’s another student that they can eventually trust, it may help infinitely more than what’s going on right now.

  23. Matt

    Yes, violence at schools is a big problem. My early high school years were basically a battle of survival, with class against class fights – at an expensive (boys) private school too. But ‘mean girls’ shows that girl’s experience can be as bad or maybe even worse. I learned almost nothing academic during that time. It is probably worse now. It is great indictment of our society that we send in our kids into these environments, in which they cannot be protected and looked after. Future generations will be appalled, as we should be now. This is an area I am actively working on – we need smaller schools (in fact smaller, more humane everything really). The economic argument of ‘efficiency’ and ‘economies of scale’ means nothing if we are damaging people and creating greater and bigger costs and problems in the long run. The buddy system is good idea though.

    Maybe the anger of men is that they feel the unwritten mutual agreement is not been met. That agreement has traditionally been that men (and male society) will protect women, look after them etc, however, they maybe feel that not much of that care and concern is coming back (maybe they feel used?). But I could be entirely wrong about that, it is just a theory, but regardless there is something behind that anger that needs to be indentified and addressed.

    Thanks for this online, somewhat public, chat, maybe we will cross paths f-2-f one day.

    Matt

  24. Deanna Jones

    Tracie, thank you for sharing this. Your story resonates with me as I also survived and went on to greater things. It’s a great feeling.

    Matt: “So basically, I think we as a society need to take a lot more care of our men, and be more concerned about their welfare, then these other matters may start to improve.”

    So what would this look like in reality? How to get men to take better care of each other? How to get them to be confidant enough to reject senseless ideals of masculinity, to refuse to be paid gladiators of their powerful overlords. I do not have the answers to this. There would have to be a bigger personal dividend to be had than they have under the current system, though. I think this needs to be a separate conversation to the one about how protect women and children from men, in the immediate sense. Men experience violence (mostly) very differently to women and children. Most of it is at the hands of other men. This needs to be addressed but right now we need to halt the flow of death in this country. 34 women are dead so far this year alone. About 80 last year. The refuges turn away more than they take in.This is an emergency.

    Jack Russell, you can’t just arbitrarily lock people up and even if you could I do not want to live in a society like that. Besides we currently do not have anywhere near enough gaols for this. For long term change we need to be a bit more creative. The current judicial responses are pathetically inadequate. Until resources are made available to both ensure the physical safety of women and children AND the long term therapeutic and educative measures for victims and perpetrators, all we are effectively doing is moving perpetrators on to their next victim.

  25. Matt

    Deanna,

    Look I agree – there are the immediate steps that need to be taken to protect women (and children I argue) – that were we started this conversation from – the adding of children to that list. I have no argument with that – but then we need to look at the causes and address those – I don’t believe we can separate these issues and neatly compartmentalise them in isolation of each other.

    I don’t know the answers, I am only beginning to even comprehend the problem – but if as you say you cannot just arbitrarily lock people up, then even if we protect the immediate victims then we still have violent men out there – so is there anything that can be done for these men? If so what? Addressing this aspect of the problem is very important if it can be done. These men are not going to just dissappear along with their problems – so their problems are everyone’s problems. Otherwise there will be continuous lines of women and children seeking refuge from these men and the next generation coming through the cycle (whatever that cycle is).

    Matt

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