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170 reasons to stand up to violence in 2018 - Courier Mail - 28 Dec 2017 - Sherele Moody
WITH a new year looming, most of us are thinking about the things we’d like to achieve or change in 2018.
In between our vows to lose weight, get fit, eradicate bad habits, enjoy more cultural activities, spend extra time with family and friends and have better lives, it would be great to add one new pledge.
Standing up against violence.
This year about three Australians have been killed at someone else’s hand per week.
Yes. You read that right.
At least 170 Australian women, men and children lost their lives to domestic violence in 2017.
A further 41 deaths are being investigated, so the toll could be as high as 210 killings.
Femicide Australia Project research shows 108 adult men were killed as were 48 adult women and 17 children and young people.
The Femicide Australia Project is made up of a small group of volunteers who document every violent death in Australia.
The information comes from a range of sources including police and media outlets.
Only violent deaths where police have charged one or more people are included in the tally.
Of course, all those charged are presumed innocent unless convicted in a court of law.
What the research reveals
This year’s data shows that men continue to be the primary victims and the primary perpetrators of violent deaths.
Blokes accounted for a whopping 82 per cent of those charged with murders or manslaughters committed this year.
Melbourne man, Sameer Sahib, lost his 14-month-old daughter, Sanaya, when his wife Sofina Nikat smothered her
Males were involved in 82.6 per cent of adult male deaths, 93.5 per cent of adult female deaths and 55.6 per cent of child and youth deaths.
Women, on the other hand, were charged in 12.5 per cent of all deaths, with 10.3 per cent accused in adult male killings, 6.5 per cent of adult female killings and 44.4 per cent of child killings.
In a small number of cases there were multiple perpetrators.
Domestic violence continues to be a major factor in Australian deaths.
Former or current partners or family members were charged in 39 per cent of the killings in 2017.
About 47.5 per cent were committed by strangers, friends or associates of the victims while ‘relationship unknown’ applies to 13.6 per cent of cases.
Not surprisingly, most of the female and child deaths led to a relative being charged, with 72.9 per cent of femicides and 76.5 per cent of Filicides allegedly committed by a loved one.
Total men killed = 108. Total women killed = 48. Total children and young people killed = 17.
THESE numbers are more than symbols on a page.
Every one of these figures represents someone who was loved, cherished, adored and appreciated by family and friends.
All of these victims were Aussies who had the same kind of dreams and aspirations as you and I.
Some of were tiny human beings with an entire lifetime ahead of them, many were grown men and women, and some, well they were in the twilight of their existence.
Not one of these people deserved to have their life snuffed out.
Alleged male perpetrators = 82 per cent. Alleged female perpetrators = 12.5 per cent
EVERY one of these statistics represents a person who, police have alleged, decided to commit violence.
They show an individual who appears to have made the selfish decision to harm another human being simply because they were angry, sad, jealous, drug addicted or for myriad other reasons.
How you can make a difference
YOU may read these statistics and think to yourself, ‘But I can’t make a difference’.
Violence only thrives because we allow it to.
So many of us avert our eyes when we see a bloke berating a woman in public, thinking to ourselves ‘Just another domestic’.
We walk away when we see a parent using physical and emotional anger to control a child throwing a tantrum.
We fail to offer a helping hand even though we know a new mother is struggling with severe depression or other mental health problems.
We laugh at a social media post or joke that encourages or validates violence against vulnerable members of society.
We fail to recognise the things within ourselves that make us want to hit out in anger.
While violence is a complex issue that needs appropriate and strong judicial consequences and political responses, it is also a problem that the rest of us need to start taking seriously.
We need to offer a hand when someone is being abused.
We need to intervene if we think a child’s punishment is inappropriate.
We need to help people who are struggling emotionally.
We need to stop laughing when abuse is turned into a joke.
If we are the source of violence, we need to take control and seek help.
Let’s make sure 2018 is safe for everyone
The past 12 months have been extremely sad for the families and friends of those 170 Australians and it’s been a really hard and scary time for the families and friends of the 200 people who have been charged over this year’s killings.
So please, when you’re thinking about the things you would like to change in 2018, take the time to make a vow to act if you believe someone is in danger.
Phone the police on 000, contact the national sexual and domestic violence hotline on 1800 RESPECT, offer a hand if it is safe to do so and call out anyone who makes fun of abuse and violence.
Most of all — don’t be a bystander because your actions could save a life.
News Corp journalist, Sherele Moody, is the recipient of 2017 Clarion and Walkley Our Watch journalism excellence awards for her coverage of domestic violence issues. Sherele is also the founder of The RED HEART Campaign and a member of the Femicide Australia Project.