I’ve been working in the area of preventing domestic and family violence for 20 years, since my first daughter was born.
I work in this area because I believe that I can support my community to enable my daughters to grow up in a town where they won’t be called a slut, or a dumb bitch, and where their ‘pussy’ wouldn’t be grabbed by a man because he thinks he can. In my heart I believe we can build a place where all girls can experience relationships – short or long term - that are connected, robust, and respectful.
My eldest daughter was first called a slut when she was 7 years old – in her school playground in Port Macquarie. This reinforced my commitment to preventing violence against women before it starts – so I worked with local colleagues to develop our local LOVE BiTES program.
Now I support schools around Australia to build strong, robust and respectful cultures across their schools and I travel internationally to Timor-Leste, Thailand and Indonesia to support communities develop gender equity and domestic violence prevention approaches.
I research and read a lot so my work can be the best it can be, and over the years I have changed the way I talk and think about how we can prevent this violence based on global evidence. The evidence suggests that some of our current approaches are actually normalising domestic violence - making it acceptable through constantly talking about it.
Yet I have noticed in this lead up to the Global 16 days of Activism against gender based violence - November 25 is actually the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women not just White Ribbon Day –that we are still spending the majority of the ‘air time’ focusing on what domestic violence is, how high the statistics are, how many women die, and how many women are victims - by doing this we are normalising the violence in our community rather than focusing on how we develop spaces and places and relationships that have the vision and power to reject it.
I want to honour all of you that have the courage to speak out and challenge domestic violence when you see it. I also want to challenge you too and ask you to think about how we can talk about preventing domestic and family violence in a way that gives our community the best chance of ending it.
We must come together to collectively create new norms in our community that are positive and support alternative, respectful, and gender equitable attitudes and behaviours.
- Angela Walsh, Prevention Practitioner and Vice Chair of WDVCAS