Monday, 2 April 2007

Domestic violence- what you can do


The worst thought for EVERYONEwho has been the subject of domestic violence, whether gay or straight is that they are alone.

Usually the thought pattern includes: "I'm alone"- which is untrue, "It's all my fault"- also untrue, and "there's nothing I can do"- also untrue.

Going back to basics- a perpetrator of domestic violence is a bully. If we remember the schoolyard motto- "stand up to bullies". The sooner you stand up to a bully, the more likely you are to escape and to get on with your life. Be decisive. One of the most inspirational pieces I read on this mantra was by all people Rudi Guiliani in his book "Leadership". As he made plain, the longer bullies are allowed to get away with their bullying, the stronger they become and the weaker their target.

Focus on safety. The two key features here are to make sure that:
firstundertake a risk assessment
secondprepare a safety plan

It may be that one of your best moves is to have a protection order or similar (eg NSW an ADVO) in your favour. You may be able to get police assistance.

One of the key (shocking) differences between Australia and the United States as I recently discovered is that while in Australia in EVERY State and Territory can a person in a same sex relationship obtain a civil protection order. In some States in the US, even alarmingly in New York, a person in a same sex relationship cannot!

Make sure that you have a support network around you. This can be particularly hard coming from a same sex relationship as the group of friends and associates may be small and all may tend to go to the same clubs, bars etc. However, if you are to stay sane when it seems that everything has gone wrong it is essential to make sure you have a support network- people who do not judge you but accept you for who you are and will help you through. These may be family or friends or both.

Don't give up! As seen above, outside the Brisbane Magistrates Court is a sculpture which is used to describe going through the adversities of life and the system, or as one wag called it "Willy the Tapeworm". Life following a breakup, especially one involving domestic violence, is like that- it is tough. Someone who has bullied you before is not going to give up without a fight and might use a variety of means to humiliate you or to get you back. Make sure you've got a good lawyer!

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