Domestic violence is a very personal issue for me.
I grew up in it. All these years later the scars are still there and the wounds can be opened easily.
I can’t imagine how my mum must have felt.
Domestic violence affected me so much I used to wet the bed, live in fear and be nervous all the time. I was a run-amok child who didn’t care for much in the world. Mischief became my best friend.
Like most kids who grow up in violence, I turned to drugs, alcohol and risk-taking to fill the void. That didn’t work out too well for me. I spent my thirteenth birthday in jail.
Years later, I got into film and wrote about the first thing I ever remembered as a child: My mum getting beaten by my dad. I remember it like it was yesterday: the screams, the pain, the blood.
The film was called Mah and the only reason I made that film was to let my mum know I never forgot what she went through, and to teach my boys where I have come from. It was a way for me to heal and deal with the issues that haunted me as boy trying to become a man.
The 2015 Australian of the Year is Rosie Batty, who lost her son to domestic violence. As a result, 2015 has been a year for family and domestic violence awareness. But then is it so that we are seeing an increase in the level of violence against women?
I believe ice addiction is one factor. The case of Colleen Tae Ford is a testament to that. Two months before her eighteenth birthday Ms Ford was murdered by her boyfriend Rodney Kevin Corbett in a “sustained attack” of 172 blows. She lost her unborn child after he beat her and punched at her stomach in an ice-induced rage.
How can society improve when we have politicians such as NT Attorney General John Elferink saying that he wanted to slap a female member of parliament? (Nine female members of parliament called for his sacking, only for his controversial colleague David Tollner to tell them: “Toughen up princess”.)
What message does this send to young boys across the country?
I often draw parallels with friends and colleagues, about family and domestic victims going through the same thing as soldiers in a war zone. But effects in children and women growing up in violence, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), are rarely mentioned.
The impact of family and domestic violence on women and children in terms of mental health, I believe, is understated and not reported enough in the mainstream media. Maybe most journalists haven’t been through it, a general statement, yes – but I can’t help it, I view the world through an Aboriginal lens and so I inherently ask questions of the majority.
Domestic violence isn’t an issue of race, it’s a global issue of violence against women. Let’s make this issue perfectly clear.
All races and cultures suffer from this weakness; perpetrators are all colours and are both rich and poor. It’s not an Aboriginal issue, it’s an Australian issue.