The Guardian • Issue #2099

LETTTERS

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2099
Quill and ink .

Domestic violence – addressing causes as well as symptoms

As the government pauses to consider shelling up over $1 billion to address domestic violence, Australians should question if that sum of money will only address the symptoms while the causes are not ascertained and addressed.

In Australia we are seeing an increase in domestic violence which is incontrovertible, but what is causing it? We are also seeing a cost of living crisis, a homelessness crisis and a climate crisis. What is the solution suggested by many sectors of Australian society? Throw some money at it but leave the existing system and its structures firmly in place. I would argue that the root cause of the three crises listed above is the operation of capitalism. I would also argue that the root cause of the domestic violence crisis is the almost unfettered operation of capitalism. Governments and business say we should leave it to the market, not interfere in the operation of the market and the market is good.

I suggest before the government shells out such a large amount of money on domestic violence, it should be very clear about what the causes of domestic violence are so that it is not just putting a very expensive band aid on the problem, but addressing the causes so that the incidences of domestic violence decrease and are eventually eliminated.

For a fraction of the cost of what Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is offering, we could get together a team of social scientists from each state and territory. These would be sociologists, social workers, anthropologists, psychologists and philosophers, and they can start gathering empirical data, administer questionnaires and we can find out, “How long have you had this problem?; “what do you suggest we should do?” and, “is there anything we need to change?” amongst other questions.

If capitalism is the cause of the domestic violence crisis, then the answer of throwing a lot of money at the problem, the more the better, will not be challenged. But if the government is serious about addressing the problem, then they should be more certain about the causes.

Thank you.

Yours truly.

Richard Titelius


Children Never Forget Domestic Violence

Dear editor

In 1960s Queensland, if the neighbours called the police to a house for domestic violence, the police waited outside until the noise stopped, and then told the neighbours: “No one is dead here. We are going now.” Only if the husband killed his wife would they intervene and arrest him for murder. Women rarely pressed charges against spouses, as it was considered an internal family affair.

My mother had seven children (I am the eldest of 5 girls and 2 boys) and suffered years of abuse, as did all the children. We were poor. My sister was taken away as a child as she was suffering from malnutrition. My father was violent, abusive, and controlling, regarding everyone in the household as under his absolute control. Conflict was settled with violence. Children were tolerated, but never loved. His children were a financial burden and when they left school to work, they were expected to pay board, as he said: “To repay all the money I had spent on raising you since birth.”

It took very little to upset him. A child’s smile or laughter would set him into a violent rage. As a child I would come home and the house would be smashed up in his rage, with cupboards and dressers thrown around. Animals were thrown against the wall, their limp bodies collapsing to the floor. For years we came home in dread that we would be murdered. These memories stick with you.

There was no assistance for women and children to flee to safety. When my mother fled to her parents, he came with his work mates to take his family back, threatening my grandparents with violence.

His father tried to strangle his wife with the ironing cord when she requested a divorce. From the youngest age he would beat up his sister, and he hated his mother. His father raised him after they divorced.

Up to the day he died, my father never apologised for his violent behaviour, nor saw anything wrong in what he did. His children still bear the psychological scars of growing up under the threat of extreme violence. My mother always supported him, brushing off his violence with the explanation that he was a good provider. She never understood why her children suffered from mental health issues and were on medication.

We grew up lacking in self-confidence and social skills, which led us wanting to prove ourselves academically. Children never forget the domestic violence they are forced to endure, and they suffer this for the rest of their lives, often in silence, suffering from depression and self-doubt.

Graham Holton


 

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