IN sharing the deeply personal and tragic story of the disintegration of her family, of the devastating impact domestic abuse had on her mother, and the trauma witnessing that horror caused her, Maddison Passarelli has opened wide a wound that many would dare not touch.
Roger Yeo. Picture: Simone De Peak
And she is determined to keep that wound in plain sight because, she argues, there is no justice in silence.
Another person touched by domestic violence is Roger Yeo, whose daughterRachelle was murdered in her home by a former partner. He said violence against women by men was a“national human rights disaster”.
Mr Yeo and Ms Passarelli will both speak at the Hunter White Ribbon Breakfast at Wests New Lambton on November 30.They are two strangers, linked by the woundsof domestic violence. In both cases they were not the intended victims of that violence, but they carry the scars.
Alarming statistics from the nBureau of Statistics show onein three women hasexperienced physical violence since the age of 15, one in five hasexperienced sexual violence and one in six has experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner.
On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner, a figure Mr Yeo, Ms Passarelli and a growing chorus of fed-up ns say should be causing a national outcry.Indeed it should.
And there are signs the anger is registering. NSWpolice chief Mick Fuller on Friday called for domestic violence killers to be locked up life, as the state government ordereda review of sentences.
Calling for the 20-year standard non-parole period for murder to be raised,Commissioner Fuller said: “Dying in your own home at the hands of someone that’s supposed to love you has to be one of the worst crimes.” While any increase in sentences would be welcome, there is also a seismic cultural shift that needs to take place.
In an interview with theNewcastle Herald, Mr Yeo shared his passion for White Ribbon, the organsation tasked with creating a nation that respects women, in which every woman lives in safety.While much of the rhetoric around violence against women is about educating adults, Mr Yeo is looking further.He wants to reach today’s boys to change tomorrow’s men.
“I’m not going to change the behaviour of a 45-year-old man that’s beating his wife,” he said.“But it’s the next generation of kids and the one after that.”
Domestic violence most certainly is a national tragedy. It most certainly is a human rights disaster and it most certainly has to change. Both Ms Passarelli and Mr Yeo recognise that silence is not the answer. And if keeping painful wounds open for all to see will make people stop, listen and act, then that is what we need to do. We need to raise our voices. We need to be heard.
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