IN the shadows behind the curtains, in the black of night.
In the disturbed minds of those who said they loved you, in the bruises you hide.
In the murky depths of despair, desperate to escape.
In the emptiness all alone, frozen in fear.
In the cold dark days you stay, for the sake of the children.
When will you be safe?
Domestic violence ruins lives.
For every high-profile case, more victims die shrouded in silence and countless others endure the daily torture of not knowing when it will happen again.
Far too often we as neighbours, family, friends and fellow Papua New Guineans fail to see it.
Even worse, we turn a blind eye.
It is time to shine a light on domestic violence.
And what better time than this month – October – which is the Domestic Violence Awareness Month in some countries.
PNG should embrace this and raise awareness on this issue.
Domestic violence can include any form of psychological, emotional, verbal, physical, and sexual abuse.
The prevention of domestic violence, first and foremost, requires challenging cultural and social norms that tolerate or excuse violence especially against women.
Unfortunately, any discussion on violence against women that questions rather than reinforces those cultural and social norms about gender is still frowned at.
One of the most enduring myths is that women living with abusive and violent partners should be blamed for the violence because they failed to leave the relationship.
This position promotes “victim blaming”, which does not look at domestic violence from the ecological dimension.
The victim blaming argue that women were killed or maimed in the context of intimate partner violence because they did not take the necessary action to protect themselves: by not reporting the violence, not filing charges or not leaving the relationship.
By placing domestic violence atop the national agenda we can expose and erase the dark underside of home life, while helping victims find the warmth and optimism they deserve.
We need to make people more familiar with this problem and providing knowledge about options available to victims and their loved ones are key goals of this annual observance.
Local awareness projects must take place all across the nation.
They vary in the activities and details but usually have common themes:
- Mourning people who have died because of domestic violence;
- celebrating survivors who have found ways to change their lives; and,
- Connecting individuals who are active in the important work of ending violence.
Remaining silent about domestic violence is not an acceptable response.
People who are victims should be encouraged to seek help.
As such, parents should teach their children to respect the institution of marriage.
While couples should ensure that peace reigns in their families – just as a woman builds her home, the man should lay the foundation at building by not shirking his responsibilities and by showing love and care.
To eliminate domestic violence and live in a society protective of human dignity requires political will on the part of the society and recognition of the humanity of everyone by all.
The United Nations General Assembly has designated Nov 25 as the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. The premise of the day is to raise awareness of the fact that women around the world are subject to rape, domestic violence and other forms of violence.
Furthermore, one of the aims of the day is to highlight that the scale and true nature of the issue is often hidden.
Papua New Guineans, it is time for everyone to stand up together – put a check on domestic violence and start encouraging victims to seek help and know that they are supported strongly by the rest of us.