Christmas is a time when families all over Australia gather to celebrate the season together. However, for some, family isn’t safe. In fact, statistically, domestic and family violence spikes in the two week Christmas period. It is estimated that during this time 15,000 children will be exposed to abuse.
To us, this knowledge is heartbreaking. The thought of little ones, growing teens, women and at times even men being exposed to violence in their own family home cuts deep. And so, we just had to do something to support victims and bring awareness to this absolutely horrific reality that is more common than one would think.
Here are a few important things you can do to support victims of domestic violence.
Knowing what physical and emotional signs to look out for is key. Changes in behaviour that may be an indication that someone you know is suffering at home. Look out for black eyes, busted lips, bruises on body, marks on neck or sprained wrists. Are they in a state of constant apprehension? Are they extremely apologetic? Do they have a low self esteem?Have they become reserved or distant? Are they unpunctual and do they isolate themselves even from family and close friends?
These are just some of the easily googled signs of domestic and family violence. We encourage you to do a quick scan of the internet to discover more signs to look for and educate yourself further. Your awareness could save a life.
It is extremely difficult for victims to speak up. Telling someone about their situation requires unspeakable courage. Many fear their confession will cause them more harm and do not see how speaking up will change their circumstances. Many believe their abuser will change, they love them and don’t want people to think ill of them. Some think the abuse is their fault and feel a sense of shame and guilt.
When a victim admits that they are experiencing violence at home, it is important to listen without judgement. Believing them might be hard, especially if you know the perpetrator and they do not seem like an angry, controlling or violent person. Asure the victim by looking them in the eye and saying clearly, ‘I believe you’.
There are many ways you can support people who have suffered domestic or family violence. Offering them practical help is a good place to start. Equip them with ‘help line’ information and assist them in planning a way forward. This might look like helping them engage with police, locate alternative accommodation, find counselling services and legal information.
Even if you do not recognise domestic violence among your community, this Christmas you can still make a difference in the lives of those who do. This yeara portion from every sale of our beautiful Christmas Tee’s will be donated to GIVIT's Domestic and Family Violence Appeal.The goal in creating these Tees was not only to design a quality Christmas Tee with a meaningful message, but also to give to those who instead of experiencing peace, hope and joy are met with an increased risk of violence. You can see our full range of Christmas Tee’s in store.
Photo by Briana Tozour