Beauty of the Redlands hides a dark secret

As a domestic violence counsellor for 23 years, Rosie (surname withheld) has witnessed firsthand the effects domestic violence has on families, effects that can sometimes be confronting and heartbreaking.

A DVConnect telephone counsellor for the state-wide support service, Rosie is one of the voices on the other end of the phone offering support and information for those trying to escape the cycle of domestic violence. 

“Our primary role is to help women and children escape domestic violence.  We are the leading agency for referrals to women’s shelters,” Rosie said.

“But While Domestic Violence services will always attempt to assist victims of Domestic Violence to access accommodation in a safe area, sometimes finding a place for someone can be difficult with a state-wide shortage of vacancies at shelters.”

It is the lack of such services in and around the Redlands that has prompted a push from Council and other community groups to raise money and awareness for domestic violence, with the ultimate aim of setting up a regional service in the Redlands.

This push includes the Diner En Rouge event being held 29 November, where local residents and businesses will join for a unique dining experience to raise money to support the cause.

According to Rosie, someone suffering domestic violence making the decision to leave is not only hard, it is just the beginning, with them then needing ongoing support to rebuild their life.

“While keeping these women and children safe is the most important thing, they also need support to get back on their feet.  Often they can only take what they can carry on public transport because a lot of them don’t have cars; so they have to leave a lot of things behind,” she said.

“They also may have to uproot their children, sometimes taking them out of school, so they may lose their support network, their friends and have to start from scratch.

“Just simple things like school uniforms and household cooking items; they often have nothing so they need support to start again.”

An alarming trend Rosie is seeing more and more is domestic violence against the elderly by their adult children and, in some cases grandchildren, who have moved home following a marriage breakdown.
“Often it is elderly women being abused by their adult sons who have moved back home after the breakdown of their own relationships.  These women are often very vulnerable because they are alone following the death of their own husband,” she said.

“One of the hardest things for a parent to do is say no to their child, so it puts these women in a very difficult situation and often they don’t even recognise that they are suffering domestic violence or that there is help out there.”
According to Rosie one in three women will experience some form of domestic violence in their life, a statistic that will only change if attitudes change.

“People need to stop turning a blind eye.  Remaining silent when you know someone is doing something wrong is essentially condoning it,” she said.

“If people hear men talking about giving their partner a ‘touch up’ or putting them down, they need to say something, neighbours who hear it happening next door need to call the police, we can’t keep quiet on this.”

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams agrees, saying that unfortunately the Redlands was not immune to the problem of domestic violence.

“Redland City is a truly beautiful place, but like everywhere else, we suffer from domestic and family violence,” she said.

“In fact Redland City accounts for about three per cent of all domestic and family violence protection orders applied for across Queensland.  That’s more than 600 a year or 12 victims per week.”

Cr Williams has been lobbying for years for more local domestic and family violence services, a cause that was boosted recently with the Redlands included in a State Government tender to provide these services in the city.

“We welcome the news that the Redlands is one of 12 locations across Queensland included in this State Government tender, but we still need locals to recognise this issue exists and start talking about it,” she said.

“To help tackle this issue Council together with the Redlands Domestic and Family Violence Action Group and Zonta clubs are hosting Diner En Rouge; a dining experience that will help raise awareness of domestic and family violence in the Redlands.

“This will be an evening of fine local food held at a secret location where it is guaranteed diners have never dined before.  All locals, particularly local businesses should get behind this event, so as a community we can put domestic and family violence on the agenda.”