One in five Australian women have experienced sexual violence in their lifetime, most often from someone known to them – a figure that has barely changed in the last decade.
Saturday, November 25 marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
It was initiated by the United Nations as a marker of the violence (physical, sexual and emotional) that persists against women around the globe.
Highlands women form part of this shocking statistic, and Saturday marks an opportunity to raise awareness about the prevalence of violence against women and garner support for local support services.
But Suzanne Hopman, CEO of Dignity, the Mittagong based homelessness and domestic violence support charity, said it should not just be something we think about for one day of the year.
“We do it everyday,” Ms Hopman said. “It’s our mission.”
“But it does raise awareness and if people have been surviving in a situation, [November 25] might be the day to reach out for help. No one should have their dignity compromised.”
Dignity is a Mittagong-based homelessness and domestic violence support charity that helps Highlands women escape violence. They provide crisis accommodation and link women to other legal and counselling services they may need through a partnership with St Vincent de Paul.
This year’s commemoration coincides with the recent release of the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) four-yearly data relating to the personal safety of Australians.
It confirmed that one in six women had experienced violence from an intimate partner, and this has not changed since the previous set of statistics were released four years ago.
Although the results showed that men experienced violence at a higher rate than women, this was more often perpetrated by men and in public spaces.
Whereas women were statistically more likely to experience violence from intimate partners, family members and people known to them in their homes.
This year’s commemoration (which is also known as White Ribbon Day) will be marked in the Highlands by two main fundraisers: a recycled clothing event at the Henrietta Rose Room and the Expect Respect golf day, organised by the Southern Highlands Domestic Violence Forum, held at the Highlands Golf Course in Mittagong to raise funds and awareness.
If you are experiencing domestic violence you can contact the national helpline at 1800 65 64 63 or, if you are based in NSW, you can contact 1800 938 227 for a court advocacy service.
As published in The Southern Highland News, November 2017.