What makes a real man?
Everyone seems to have a different answer, ranging from something found in their pants, to an ability to talk footy, to strength, and even dress or hobbies. As a 1980s singer asked, is a real man rough or is he rugged, is he cultural and clean?
I don’t claim to have the ultimate answer. But one thing most of us would put at the top of the list is that a real man is defined by whether he treats women and children with respect.
Or, in other words, a real man should want to protect his loved ones; his loved ones shouldn’t need to be protected from him!
Any man who physically abuses his partner and/or kids is no man. He’s actually the dictionary definition of a coward – particularly if he uses alcohol, stress, religious verses, or ‘she was asking for it’ as excuses.
Relationships can be hard, and blokes can often get the short straw – often expected to be perfect providers, yet at the same time perfect always-there fathers in a world where the work/life balance is often skewed. Add in family law court dramas, mental health issues, poverty, and many other challenges, and I feel for many of my fellow blokes. Domestic life can be complicated.
But domestic violence is NOT complicated. It’s wrong, as simple as that.
Any man who raises his hand against a woman deserves to be reviled. For too long, allowances have been made for thugs who claim to have been provoked. There is never an excuse. None.
I love my home town of Campbelltown – it has a rich community spirit, amazing artistic achievers and a sheer decency among so many people I meet every day.
But that’s why it crushes my soul when we see statistics that say Campbelltown LGA has the second highest rate of domestic violence incidents in Sydney, with 875 reported to police from July 2016 to June 2017.
Police in Camden and Wollondilly are also battling it as an increasing problem.
Our only solace is that statistics are also known as fibs, wrapped in misconceptions, and smothered in prejudice.
For example, about a decade and a half ago, the Advertiser ran a campaign in support of local police to urge victims of domestic violence to come forward to seek help, using case studies of women’s individual stories.
It worked. Police were happy as there was a big jump in local women seeking help to free themselves and their children from brutal violence. It was judged a success – until the crime stats came out and the Daily Telegraph – with its usual depth – declared on its front page that Campbelltown had “more wife beaters than anywhere else in the state”.
Did it? Or did it have more women seeking help instead of suffering in silence?
I pray it’s the second, and Tanya Whitehouse of the Macarthur Women’s Domestic Violence Court Advocacy Service says she also takes heart in the fact that the high local figures means there is an increase in women going to police, and being more aware of support networks.
Domestic abuse is not just physical violence, but verbal abuse, financial abuse, or attempts to isolate women from their family and friends.
For those who don’t escape, their physical and mental health can be slowly destroyed, sometimes with fatal consequences. We owe it to the victims to make it clear, as a community, that it isn’t good enough.
There are a number of local avenues for victims to seek help, all found online. Perhaps start via Macarthur Legal Centre on 4640 7333.
Everyone deserves to live free from fear.
Please come forward. There are many, many avenues of help.