VICTORIA Police chief commissioner Ken Lay makes no apology for banging a drum about family violence – and nor do I.
The truth is, as succinctly put by Australia’s sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, the greatest human rights abuse happening in this country is men’s violence against women.
So why is it so hard to get people to take this issue seriously?
It is not private business. It’s not women’s business. They’re not ‘just domestics’. This is a whole of society issue.
Why? Because almost every family violence incident reflects patriarchy – and with that, some appalling attitudes towards women and children fuelled by the ‘entitlement’ of men.
Family violence is about power and control. It’s about silencing others - in private, often by men who are very different in public. Those same men know how to control their behaviour in the workplace or socially, but make choices to take their entitlement out on the people they supposedly love most.
It’s not just women, but children. They see it, they hear it, they feel it. They walk on eggshells.
Mr Lay correctly states that you are wrong if you don’t think family violence can happen to someone you know.
I have written about this issue for many years and the myths surrounding it. But rarely have I read anything quite as powerful as Ken Lay’s piece published through a News Limited media outlet this week.
He calls on all people to ‘’make the subject of our fury the malignant entitlement of these men, rather than the supposed complicity of the victim’’.
“Violence against women is not limited to any suburb, or to the poor, or to any fixed, imagined type of person you have in your head,’’ he wrote.
“Family violence isn't a discrete phenomenon, separate from the prevailing culture of the day. It doesn't exist in a vacuum. Family violence exists on a long continuum of violence against women and not all of that violence is physical.
“It says something else about our culture that as the intimacy between victim and perpetrator increases, the community's disgust decreases. Is that because we think it's inevitable? Or normal? To which I say: it's our culture and we can change what's "normal" if it's damaging and senseless.’’
There is no doubt this issue is about gender equality – or inequality. To separate family violence from a gender issue would be to fail to understand it.
Mr Lay called on men to talk to their sons and importantly, show them “what respect looks like’’.
“You need to condemn your mates who think it's okay to grope women, or scream at them, or insult them. And if you've done any of those things, you need to ask yourself: why? You need to ask yourself why you feel entitled to the woman's respect, love or attention.
Powerful words. Powerful leadership.
It’s not just women, but children. They see it, they hear it, they feel it.