Amidst the silent night, the stirrings of (thankfully) distant memories taunt my young family, trying to come to terms with strangers reaching out from their past.
Panic attacks are not uncommon among survivors of domestic violence, and Christmas - a time which brings an idealistic notion of 'family' into focus, for many, raises regrets, frustrations and above all else, fear.
For any number of reasons Christmas time brings an increase of about 30% in family violence, & while the solution may seem simple enough, outsiders seldom realize the complexities of distancing oneself & loved ones from a partner prone to violent reactions & who perhaps is not that agreeable to a relationship ending.
Systems in place for coping with violence in the home can only do so much, despite initiatives in WA and other states, to adapt our archaic, classist & chauvinistic 'British Common Law' justice system to the needs of a modern society, which sees women incarcerated quicker than men, regardless of the prevalence of family violence and poverty in their lives.
This year we've seen many bandaid approaches to family violence - a kneejerk reaction from a right-wing, neo-con fed government supporting patriarchal fundamentalist ideals in a distinctly post-Christian society.
White Ribbon Day received a bashing on Online Opinion for dressing the domestic violence message up in a way that is less confronting & more palatable for sadists, while embattled Victorian Police Commissioner, Cheryl Nixon, hangs the blame for family violence squarely at the feet of the weather gods for sending drought & bushfires to the state.
It's all too easy in this 'quick-fix' culture to proffer immediate solutions or 'bandaid approaches' to a problem which stems from generations of violence and inequality, & in the initial stages at least, any solution requires victims to stop trying to understand their troubled partner and focus on the preservation & quality of their lives and that of their children.
While in eras gone-by therapists bemoaned the lemming nature of co-dependents, victims/survivors have been emancipated by the relatively newfound understanding that abusive people frequently seek out passive-natured partners.
Other solutions exist in reaching out to professionals trained and educated to: facilitate safe negotiations and safe departures from violent situations, counselling, accommodation, food etc etc. However, true solutions aren't found in bandaid quick-fixes touted by whatever flavour-of-the-month government is in power. The journey to empowerment - to a loving, harmonious and safe environment & to break the cycle of violence, is long and arduous, but starts, and must start, with one tiny, tumultuous step - acknowledging there's a problem & seeking help.
Here's wishing readers of TDM a 'silent, calm and bright' Christmas, and to one & all a reminder that Christmas in itself is annually a celebration of hope and a new beginning.