Dear Miranda Devine

This is not a blog I intended to write this week, but unfortunately, I now feel compelled to.

I have felt relieved over the past year to see Domestic Violence finally getting the media coverage it deserves, because violence thrives in silence, but now the tone of the talk is increasingly troubling to me.

I believe the answer to a real solution for Domestic Violence is to engage all parties, and not keep putting them up against each other.

I am not known to be reactionary, but your article in The Telegraph was another example of keeping the interested parties arguing – which is great for you as a journalist – but as I read the comments underneath, it did not create much talk about how we find a solution, but rather only fuelled more blame and hate.

What I found interesting is your use of Lane Cove as an example of DV not being of particular issue because it is an affluent area. Why? Because directly underneath where your article was posted – on my own Facebook feed – was a post which was a call out for help from the refuge I was lucky enough to have been able to stay in a decade ago. You guessed it – this refuge is located in Lane Cove.

I do not think it is helpful to see domestic violence as a gender and power issue alone. It is far more complicated than that. It is also unhelpful to minimise and marginalise it, to place blame on the poor and disenfranchised.

This is a weak person’s argument, as this ‘demographic’ has the least resources to respond. It is akin to schoolyard bullying. This is a complicated issue, and this rhetoric does not help. Gender and power play a role in it, and must be addressed when seeking a solution; but to say you are standing up for men by blaming ‘unsuitable women to keep having children to a string of feckless men’ – to quote you Ms Devine, surely these are the feckless men Mr Turnbull refers to that you pertain to defend, or do you only defend men of a certain socio-economic background?

You speak a circular argument.

It is my opinion that the following issues all play a part in the appalling prevalence of domestic violence in our society:

  • Generational abuse – we do what we know
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Gender inequality
  • Socio-economic demographic
  • Societal and cultural considerations
  • Isolation and depression
  • Lack of community support
  • Lack of positive role models.

These are to name but a few, and if we are to have any hope of ending violence in the home, we have to start working together instead of arguing about who is to blame. Laying blame does little to improve the situation. It simply distracts from the important work of looking for a solution.

By looking at domestic violence from the angle of those abusing and those being abused, rather than designating blame dependent upon gender or socioeconomic demographic, we are in a position to make real change.

It is one thing to say that violence is wrong and it must stop; but I ask how this is possible when there is little or no support or education available to those who are abusing. I would love to see a situation where not only are abusers encouraged to seek help, but applauded and encouraged when they do so. The generational cycle of violence is not an easy one to break and certainly cannot be achieved in isolation – I know because I have achieved this, and I know first-hand the amount of support and resources required.

I know for me it is the solution that truly matters because people are dying and although gender is not all of the story by far, I have to acknowledge that 66 women in Australia have died at the hands of male partners this year alone. With this fact in mind, I cannot help but be offended by your labelling them ‘unsuitable women’. This is an insult to their memories, to their suffering, and to their families. It does absolutely nothing to bring about an answer to the epidemic of domestic violence and violence against women.

This issue is far bigger than being about ‘feckless men’ and ‘unsuitable women’ as your article suggests.

So my request to you, Ms Devine, is this.

When it comes to what you read and hear about domestic violence simply think about whether what’s being said is adding to the argument or to the solution – and rather than becoming part of the former, make it your goal to become part of the latter.

My desire for a solution is why I stand up and say let’s make the discussions about Domestic Violence inclusive. It’s why I am writing this blog, despite being an unsuitable woman. It’s why I am addressing you directly, and asking you to be a part of this conversation directly.

Because a solution, Ms Devine, you have to agree, is better than the argument. Don’t you?