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  • Subject Name : Sociology

Family Violence in Regional and Rural Victoria

In present times, violence is considered to be a much overpowered social and gender-specific issue. As per the Special Taskforce on Domestic and Family Violence in Queensland (2015), the violent and dominant nature of the behaviours exhibited by men has often led to women being represented as victims when observing the relationship between the two genders. Exploiting a person’s human rights has the power of strongly influencing their health & wellness overall, leading to a decreased sense of self- worth & confidence in themselves. It has also been seen that people with these characteristics become more closed from the people and surroundings around them and tend to start isolating themselves to the point of seclusion from the people and things surrounding them, leading to lower levels of cooperation and subsidizing from their side within the society. ‘Building on current strategies’ in an issue of utmost importance and is going to be the central issue to be addressed for the NSW Inquiry into Family Violence in order to protect and support the victims of domestic/family abuse and violence by supporting, making and improving the systems and processes already in existence for helping them.

In present times, women are still undergoing these atrocities but are also through a step-by-step process, distinguishing and condemning any and all acts of violence. These acts tend to have a more permanent and long- lasting impact on women and their well- being in terms of making them more prone to increasing levels of anxiety and insecurity as well as a sense of undesirability that leads to a decrease in their overall havens and involvements in the society. Throughout this report there will be various issues and recommendations being addressed and identified, in order to raise and inform the issue of domestic violence more substantially effective, in order to bring upon different ideas and arguments. Since a rising number of shamefully high and unacceptable cases of domestic and sexual assault against women that further escalate into high –scale arguments and quarrels within the community have come into the picture, it has been observed that women are being subjected as weak or inferior when it comes to being able to defend themselves from such cruelties.

In present times, there have been an increasing number of cases of domestic abuse/ assault within small towns and rural areas due to multiple issues including low financial security, more gender biases and discrimination towards women (feminism theory) as well as people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, fear and isolation from other surrounding areas. In such cases, men are often the main perpetrators of such cruelties; hence the feminist theory has been chosen to look upon the gender issues present within the society, with men often seen to be the initiators of domestic abuse towards women. Through researches focusing primarily on victimization, it was found that violence has a huge part to play in the patriarchal and misogynistic practices hoarding in the minds of the people within the society and hence gives way to suppression of women and their needs, depriving them of equal opportunity and place in the society. In small towns and rural areas, such instances of domestic/family abuse have led to women isolating themselves, a leading characteristic in a lot of victims of abuse.

Within small towns/ rural areas, the opportunity of escaping such traumatic situations also becomes a hurdle for the victims, with a low chance of any outsider observing or saving them, thus leading to a never ending vicious cycle of such cruelties enthralled upon them for the entirety of their lives. The lack of public and private transport for women living in rural areas is an issue of huge concern, which eventually means that they are unable to escape their abusive households and are forever dependent on their abusers, even for their basic necessities. It has been found through research that only 39.1% of women in rural areas live an hour away from a shelter for women, 21.6% live three hours and 15% would have to go on an overnight journey in order to reach a safety shelter for women, largely due to the fact that rural towns and remote areas tend to have a very limited and restricted access to services. This issue, has thus been subjected to an immense amount of controversy, questioning the very nature of the low to almost non- existent levels of services or access to protection faced by individuals facing and fighting such cruelties every day, only because they have nowhere to go but live in the place of abuse until they finally find an escape.

Bringing light to such of issues is leading to a number of concerns and questions of the detrimental effects that are a result of these issues, at all hierarchical levels whether they are political, or at the community or individual level. With changing times, these issues are being brought out and discussed over the broader spectrum, hence giving way to a society that is a much safer place to live in. A social activist can be defined to be a person or a group of persons who tends to fight or resolve for equal rights and opportunities for all living beings irrespective of their social or cultural backgrounds and condemning any caste or gender centred atrocities imposed upon them. (Baxi 1985). As a responsible citizen of this society, I consider societal change whether it be socially or politically, to be a crucial part of bringing about a significant change in the lives of people undergoing such acts of violence every day.

The issues that I have focused on have played a huge hand in bringing the issues to the broader spectrum and put a light on the atrocities faced by these individuals, with the main goal of simultaneously minimizing such incidents and save such families or individuals though there have been a number of hurdles that come in our way which include any individual or family member having one or another connection with a person who is mentally unstable and capable of such destruction. A number of families/ individuals are being attempted to be saved through this initiative of mine to rebuild their lives once again, increase their self- worth, self- confidence and self- esteem in order to lead more fulfilling lives with more opportunities and better mental health, away from their lives of injustice and insecurities

According to studies, the low levels of awareness and knowledge on topics involving domestic/ family violence and abuse and the way they can be eradicated through various services which can be legal, or health related leading to a detrimental impact on the mental and emotional well- being of women in terms of their safety and protection (George & Harris, 2015; Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre, 2015; Ragusa, 2013). Employment & education are 2 factors that can further enhance and make the lives of women easier altogether with a reduced level of dependence on their abusers. This can also be done in a corporate environment where employees are given training on how to react and in a certain situation or problem that may arise and hence make them more responsible in and proactive in life.

Creating awareness within the society and educating people on domestic or family abuse through print or through electronic sources or workshops by educational or health- care professionals can help enhance the levels of awareness and prevention of such activities throughout the rural or remote areas (George & Harris, 2015, p. 10). In order to bring about a change, I have also joined a group of like- minded individuals who believe in the equality and wellbeing of all individuals undergoing such atrocities in rural areas and feel that through the creation of hospitals, schools, 24*7 availability of transportation such as taxis or buses, the task at hand can be achieved. Through this project, we aim to reduce the cases of violence across the society and make it a happy and more positive place for each individual using impactful posters and social- media posts this enhancing the system of political treaties through our collective efforts.

This group would aim at achieving equality as well as social and cultural and political change for all living within the society and come to the help of those being oppressed by their abusers in such situations. The strategy that I feel would be the most impactful and result-oriented would be pressurizing the governmental system through a number of petitions and social media posts in order to bring about laws that would be in compliance with international treaties and laws and help create a wide, lasting impact on the society through the involvement of people. The group also uses the group analysis theory in order to bring about a change through different modes of communication hence creating awareness about domestic abuse within individuals. (Martin 2015). These methods have proved to be useful as shown in the memorable book ‘A Mother’s Story’, where Rosie Batty has segmented her experiences and her beliefs and created a society- wide movement to stop such atrocities that have a wider impact on the emotional, mental and physical health of the individual. It is a movement that would help create an impact and a society- wide change as it not only talks about bringing change but has an effect on the political system pressuring it to make laws and regulations for promotion and sustenance of women’s rights as well as human rights for a better way of life for people.

Subsequently, I feel that this project has moved me immensely emotionally, and has helped me become a more empathetic and a more responsible citizen of the society who makes an attempt to look beyond my own needs and tries to understand and help in bringing about a change in the society, whether it be socially, politically or in any other way as long as it helps the society and its people live a more fulfilling and satisfying life. These issues that I came across have helped me grow personally and work towards the betterment of all oppressed individuals stuck in a cycle of abuse. Overall, I feel the methods, movements and the laws talked about here, to bring about change shall lead to a wider cultural change and society with more respect and equal rights for each of its citizens.

References for Domestic Violence

George, A., & Harris, B. (2015). Landscapes of violence: Women surviving family violence in regional and rural Victoria. Geelong: Centre for Rural and Regional Law and Justice, Deakin University.

Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre. (2015). Will somebody listen to me: Insight, actions and hope for women experiencing family violence in regional Victoria. Bendigo: Loddon Campaspe Community Legal Centre. Retrieved from <lcclc.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/FV_FULL_online_v2.pdf>.

Ragusa, A. (2013). Rural Australian women's legal help seeking for intimate partner violence: Women intimate partner violence victim survivors' perceptions of criminal justice support services. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 28(4), 685-717.

Baxi, U. (1985). Taking suffering seriously: Social action litigation in the Supreme Court of India. Third World Legal Stud., 107.

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