There is a huge movement at present for protection of women, and this is wonderful. I lot of my work is with people, mostly women who have been sexually abused. I help people to recover from the impacts of these traumas and it is something I feel very strongly about.
All forms of abuse are very harmful and as women are often smaller and weaker, of course they are vulnerable to bullies, quite apart from the sexual element. I worry about elder abuse as well. Bullies are alive and well unfortunately.
But…. I find it worrying that the emphasis is too narrow. There is no mention of the need for protection of women in a variety of different ethnic groups.
We still hear of 12- and 13-year-old girls being “married” to older men in some religious groups, and this is contrary to Australian law and it is very traumatic both physically and mentally to these children.
Likewise, Indigenous customary law allows for very young children to be promised to much older men and horrendous domestic violence occurs in their community.
I also feel concern that there needs to be more discussion of personal responsibility. When people warm about being careful of how much you drink or what you wear, they are accused of victim blaming. I certainly told my kids to be aware of the risks when they go out at night.
Women should be safe regardless of how scantily they are dressed or whether they are drunk… however we all know that there are some men who do not respect this. Yes, let’s educate the men and boys but also ask all kids, male and female to take care of themselves.
I remember a situation when I was in my mid 40s. I had been at a meeting and parked my car around the corner in a dark laneway. Walking to the car I was accosted by a group of around 6 scruffy looking men who called out, “we just want to talk to you love”. I was wearing flat shoes and had my keys handy so thankfully I was able to get into the car and central lock all the doors fast.
By the time I had they keys in the ignition, they were pulling on the door handles and one was on the bonnet. I drove off, he fell off when I swung around the corner and I drove for several more blocks before I stopped and started shaking uncontrollably as I shed that trauma. These attempted assaults can come out of the blue to anyone.
Just take care at night is an important message.
The biggest problem with sexual assault is actually within the extended family group. So many of my clients were abused by Grandpa, Uncle Fred or even their father or brother.
So, what is my message?
Please listen carefully and caringly to victims who don’t find it easy to tell anyone,
Do tell people to avoid risky behaviour… it is not victim blaming,
Try not to be political,
And let’s also address the problems of indigenous and other religious groups. Those girls and women need our love and help as well.
And very importantly if you have been a victim, ask for help! I can and do help without going over the issue repeatedly, retraumatising every time. I work with your unconscious mind and this avoids the pain of cognitive behavioural therapy. My specialised trauma hypnotherapy is gentle yet very effective.
This is a very important issue, and we need to address it calmly. Of course, the victims are angry and so are their supporters, but we do need to change this calmly because a calm approach gets more people on side and is more effective.