Domestic violence through the eyes of a 14 year old girl

The number of women who have been killed by violent men in Australia this year is shocking. 31. 31 Australian women have been killed by men in the first 15 weeks of 2015. It is diabolical even for mere bystanders to comprehend, let alone endure.

What is it then, for the men and women, the boys and girls, who are not merely bystanders but victims themselves? The children who are raised in the wake of violence in their own home? What about the children whose mothers might have been 'lucky' enough to avoid being killed but not being hospitalised or beaten badly? The fear alone is unbearable to think about.

And what about when the worst fear of all – a parent's life is lost - is realised? A 14 year old girl Rachel* from NSW is living with this reality. Her mother took her own life recently after a long and torturous experience of domestic violence. For Rachel, that violence is all she'd ever known, and it's why she's seeking change.

She wants the Department of Education and Communities in NSW to educate school children about domestic violence and how to help. On reading Rachel's words it will not surprise you that Change.org describe hers as one of the most powerful petitions the site has ever hosted in Australia.

Well, I am rachel. I am 14 years old and I have been a victim of domestic violence. I didnt know that what happened in my home was different to any other family home, as a child how could I have known any better? My three brothers, mother and I just accepted the ongoing abuse (whether it be verbal, emotional or physical) , I wanted help ,but didn't know how to get it. If I had known any better, my family would have been safe and a lot happier than what we were. We were scared, naive , and alone. All victims of domestic violence, my family got torn apart. After a major DV incident, my brothers, mum and I immediately became homeless for nine solid months. The police were involved this time, and that's when I realised how serious domestic violence is. I began to develop major mental illnesses such as Bulimia , Depression, Anxiety, dissociating issues, and many more. My mum had been dealing with severe depression years before that and nobody had a clue, and my two other brothers had to cope by putting on a brave face. After nine horrible months, we found a house and moved in with mum and my two brothers, as well as myself. We settled in but were all silent sufferers of never ending sadness. The domestic violence eventually came back into place, but not as severe.. My mum couldn't cope after approximately 8 or so months. She killed herself four weeks ago, she was the only person I ever needed in my life, I miss her so much. If domestic violence was addressed within the public schools educational criteria, I could have gotten help and saved my mum. We need the NSW education system to teach their students About domestic violence, nobody deserves to go through what I have been through. By doing so, Children/adolescents will begin to speak up and get the help their family needs. We cant let this issue go on. PLEASE help by signing my petition, thank you.

It has more than 21,000 signatures and it's not difficult to understand why. Domestic violence is a scourge on society and the toll it takes is not limited to the lives it takes. Rachel's words capture this. How many other silent sufferers are living with this never ending sadness?  Stemming domestic violence is no simple task but the reason we need to is simple. Silent sufferers need it.   

Georgina Dent

Georgina Dent is a former editor of Women's Agenda, she is also an editor, journalist and former lawyer. 

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