WHITE Ribbon Day has people standing in solidarity to speak out and act to prevent men’s violence against women.
White Ribbon Australia used the definition of men’s violence as ‘any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women.
This includes threats of such act, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty whether occurring in public or private life.
A common misconception is that violence towards women is only physical.
However, White Ribbon Australia said abuse can come in many forms – financial, emotional, verbal, social, sexual, spiritual, stalking and physical.
Women’s Health Grampians Wimmera consultant Melissa Morris said recognising the prevalence and nature of violence against women was important.
“You hear people trivialising and excusing violence – when it is emotional, social or financial you often hear the phrase well he didn’t hit me – but we know that there are other forms of power and control,” she said.
White Ribbon Day allows the community to take action, stand up and not be silent against the abuse.
“Taking action that challenges violence against women is essential for individuals, organisations and the community to take because it addresses one of the drivers of violence against women – community attitudes that condone the behaviour,” she said.
According to Change the Story, Ms Morris said there are five known drivers of family violence – community attitudes, men’s control over decision making, stereotypes, disrespect and promoting and normalising gender inequality.
She said White Ribbon Day works on a prevention level that addresses the drivers and allows people to challenge the violence.
“It falls within that action of people taking a stand against family violence and showing they do not condone that behaviour,” she said.
Ms Morris said there are community events in the region that are raising awareness to the societal issue.
Not only are towns organising walks, but she said councils throughout the Wimmera are displaying signage to increase the awareness.
“Everyone has a role to play by speaking up when seeing things happen and by challenging the language we use and images we see on a daily basis. It all sets the context that makes people think it is okay to act with violence,” she said.
White Ribbon Day marks the start of 16 days of activism that ends on December 16 where the community was invited to take one positive action during each day.