One in six women have experienced violence from a partner, according to a new report, but White Ribbon ambassador Kevin Saul says the reality is much worse.
Data by the Australian Bureau of Statistics on personal safety found one in six women had experienced partner violence, while one in four said they had experienced emotional abuse by a partner.
Mr Saul said he was not surprised by the statistics.
“There’s a lot of domestic violence happening in Dubbo and a lot of it is swept under the rug. People are ashamed to talk about it, people are ashamed when they’re raped and abused. They don’t want to shame themselves or their kids, they don’t want it to happen again. A lot of them don’t trust the system,” he said.
If more women reported domestic violence to the police the numbers would be even higher, Mr Saul said.
“You’d be absolutely horrified if you knew how many people were experiencing it,” he said.
“Let’s say there are 42,00 people in Dubbo. Half of them are women do that’s 21,00. That means 7,000 of them will experience domestic violence.”
The White Ribbon ambassador said the frightening statistic of partner violence was that it was 39 per cent higher among Indigenous women
“If one in three women are experiencing partner violence and it’s 39 times more likely to be an indigenous woman, think about what those statistics are. It’s absolutely scary,” Mr Saul said.
The ABS found one in ten men and one in eight women had witnessed violence towards their mother by a partner before the age of 15.
Abuse often happened slowly, Mr Saul said. It built up from something like financial abuse – the male exerting control over the household finances – until it became physical.
“They want to know where you are all the time, who you’re with ‘but it’s only because I’m worried about you darling’ and all that grows until it perpetuates where it gets to the point where the woman does something ‘wrong’ and she gets hit for it. So she thinks ‘I’ve done something wrong, I shouldn’t have done that. If I had been doing it right I would have kept my partner happy’.”
“It sneaks up on a lot of people and they don’t realise what’s happening.”
However, Mr Saul said there was a simple solution.
“If men don't stop men from perpetrating violence against women it’ll never stop happening. It’s simple as that,” he said.
“If you have breast cancer do you go to an ear nose and throat specialist? No, you go to a cancer specialist. If we want to talk about violence against women perpetrated by men, then we need to go to the men and stop them from doing it.
“I’m not saying the other stuff is not important, I’m not saying that we don’t have to have things in place for all that, but White Ribbon, this cause and what we’re talking about now is violence against women and children, committed by men. And that needs to be stopped by men.”
However, there were a number of groups within the community who were doing great things, Mr Saul said.
The Gagamin men’s group in Dubbo is made up of domestic violence offenders. The group wasn’t court ordered, just men who wanted to change themselves, Mr Saul said, while also giving back to the community.
Since forming they had already cleaned 30 tonnes of rubbish from around Dubbo, he said.