Give yourself a few seconds to think about three women or girls in your life who you love and want to see thrive in this world.
Now, try to comprehend one of those three being exposed to violence and abuse by their intimate partner. Words will never be able to describe that feeling you just experienced. These are the current statistics connected to violence towards women, and this is why we need to drive societal and cultural change.
I was born into this world as a male. Little did I know, all those years ago, just how pivotal a male’s role could be in relation to ensuring the safety and empowerment of women and girls in our society.
I will never be able to say I’ve been inside the mind of a woman or girl who is living her life in fear, in the shadows, in a world where domestic violence has now become an epidemic. These women and girls see the world through a lens of fear, anxiety, pain and suffering.
I love Newcastle, and, despite moving to different parts of the world, I’ve always looked back and called this place home. I’m incredibly thankful to be able to enjoy all the great things our city provides. But, sadly, many don’t have that luxury.
When I think of my home, it was a place where my story began. I didn’t consider it as just a place to sleep or share meals with friends and family. It was a place where I always felt safe.
Unfortunately, for far too many of our Newcastle and Hunter Valley brothers and sisters, their home is not safe. It’s not providing them with an opportunity to be the best they can be.
Some of our women are staying a little longer at work, having one last coffee or walking a bit slower to ensure they minimise the time they’re home. Some of our children are lingering a little longer at school, staying out later walking the streets, kicking the ball at the local footy field a few more times or having one last shot at the netball courts down the road. This is because the place some of these children call home is not a home, it’s a mini war zone.
My involvement in White Ribbon Day came about after someone I love and care about was involved in an abusive and controlling relationship.
But, it’s about so much more now as I have a daughter. Her name is Hope and she’s three. I also have two nieces, Matilda and Jessie. Hope has school friends, Ava and GG. My friends have daughters, Evie, Cali and Florabella. So, you see, it’s now not just about the ones I love. It’s about everyone I’ve mentioned and everyone I am yet to meet, and many I’ll never meet.
We can all achieve greatness, and no one should ever feel powerless. To truly empower women and girls, we must continually engage men and boys in the gender equality conversation. We need to lead en masse, together.
As a community, we have stood as one through countless tough times that have truly tested our resolve. This is another of those times.
It is a battle that can, and will, be won through unity, togetherness, perseverance and courage.
Past, present and future women and girls are relying on us to not give up.
A place free of violence, abuse and neglect is possible and it can be our legacy.