Voices for Change – Shifting the Narrative on Family Violence 

To coincide with International Women’s Day 2019, DVCS and YWCA Canberra launched Voices for Change, a new media advocacy program to change the community narrative on domestic and family violence.  

With funding support from the national violence prevention agency Our Watch and NAB, DVCS and YWCA Canberra worked with women who have experienced violence, supporting them to share their stories with the public and the media in a safe way that challenges community assumptions and highlights the drivers of violence against women.  

Through a digital storytelling medium, in the film component of Voices for Change the advocates share their insights into the circumstances and drivers of domestic and family violence and how communities can work together to create change and build awareness.  

Please note: images and bios are not to be reproduced or used without DVCS or YWCA Canberra’s permission. The film cannot be shared on social media. If you would like to engage an advocate for a media interview or public speaking engagement, please contact YWCA Canberra via caf.team@ywca-canberra.org.au or DVCS.

Ensuring the safety of our survivor advocates is paramount, and YWCA Canberra supports the responsible reporting of domestic and family violence. We encourage journalists to review Our Watch’s guides to reporting on violence.  

For more information on how to support a victim of sexual, domestic or family violence, go to www.1800respect.org.au. If you are unsafe at home, please contact the Canberra Domestic Violence Crisis Service 24/7 on 02 6280 0900.  

Content warning: The following content contains real life stories and people speaking about domestic and family violence.

 

Lula

Experience: Family Violence and Intimate Partner Violence

Advice: Lula would like people who are experiencing sexual assault, family or domestic violence to listen to the little voice inside telling them “this isn’t right”. Please don’t rationalise or minimise the impact the abuse is having on you. If you are supporting someone experiencing sexual assault, family or domestic violence, it will be hard at times and you will be exposed to behaviour you don’t always understand, but please stick with them. Your role is incredibly important.

Change: Lula would like to see more focus on those who use violence and abusive behaviours, such as intervention and support. Until these people address their behaviours, people, mostly women and children, will remain at risk.

Why Canberra: Not originally from Canberra, Lula is grateful for the all the wonderful women she has met during her time in Canberra, many of which she is fortunate to now call her friends.

 

Jess

Experience: Intimate Partner Violence

Advice: If you are currently living in a violent or abusive relationship please know that once you leave the relationship, you will eventually look back and see how far you’ve come. It takes a strong person to leave an abusive relationship, and you do have that strength.

Change: Jess would really like to see less blame being placed on people who are subjected to family and domestic violence. It is important to direct any questions starting with “why” to the person using violence. People who use violence have a choice, and they must be held accountable for their actions.

Why Canberra: Jess is supported by a wonderful family here in Canberra, whom she remains incredibly close to. They provided her with much support when she left her abusive relationship and is grateful for all they have done for her. She likes the quiet and relaxing nature of Canberra and thinks it is a great place to raise her family.

 

Kristen

Experience: Intimate Partner Violence

Advice: People who are experiencing family, domestic and intimate partner violence deserve better. Nobody has a right to treat you like this. With the right support it is possible to leave safely and to rebuild your life. Kristen knows the importance of being there for someone who is experiencing family, domestic and intimate partner violence. Listen. Believe. Don’t judge. Just be available with information.

Change: Kristen hopes for the broader society to acknowledge that family, domestic and intimate partner violence is a huge issue in our community and be aware of the other elements to family, domestic and intimate partner violence, not just physical violence.

Why Canberra: Kristen has spent time living in many places around Australia, but has finally settled in Canberra, a beautiful city with so much to see and do as a family. She likes being able to holiday to the beach in summer and at the snow in winter, bringing the best of both worlds close to home.

 

Michelle

Experience: Family Violence

Advice: Michelle would like people experiencing family violence to know they are not alone. To understand the importance of reaching out to a specialist family and domestic violence support service. It might be hard to take that first step, but you will get through it and know support is there.

Change: Michelle would like to see more funding to provide education to young people about respectful relationships, and to provide young people with the tools and encouragement needed to speak out and speak up.

Why Canberra: Michelle loves our Bush Capital, Canberra. What is not to love? Great schools, areas to live, people and so much nature!

 

Monique

Experience: Intimate Partner Violence

Advice: Monique urges women who are experiencing violence and abuse to know that it’s not ok. Seek out your support network, whether that be family and friends, colleagues or a support service. You have the right to be safe, respected and treated with dignity.

Change: Monique would like to see the community, agencies and government acknowledging and recognising that non-physical abuse is also a form of family and domestic violence, and can be just as damaging. Monique’s experience can help you understand more about the signs to look out for.

Why Canberra: Being a tight-knit community that comes together at times of need, Canberra is a beautiful place. Peaceful to live and filled with many amazing people.

 

Teyarna

Experience: Intimate Partner Violence

Advice: Please don’t pressure someone to leave a dangerous relationship. It is important people experiencing violence within their relationship feel loved and supported by their family and friends, please respect their confidence in you. Gently encourage them to contact a specialist domestic and family violence service, such as DVCS.

Change: Teyarna would like to see more early prevention by way of education on the drivers of violence against women, gender equality and respectful relationships.

Why Canberra: Not originally from Canberra, Teyarna now feels at home here. She is comfortable bringing up her children in a community that rallies around each other at times of need.