Respect each other
As the annual White Ribbon Day * approaches on 25 November, we are reminded by 1800RESPECT that all of us are worthy of enjoying healthy relationships; relationships that nurture and sustain us, so that we can all feel respected and safe**. Family and Domestic Violence (FDV) is a profoundly damaging abuse of power that occurs at a personal level. It is the dismissal of another person’s or persons’ humanity. It is manipulation and control exercised in an intimate relationship, which can and does manifest physically, emotionally, sexually, socially, financially and spiritually.
While FDV can happen in diverse relationships, occurring intergenerationally, and crossing class, ethnic, gender and sexual orientation boundaries, the vast majority of instances occur when a man exercises power over a woman. This question of what makes a man a 'man' is vital to all of us. The negative, machismo interpretation of masculinity can be toxic to all; male, female, everyone. Part of the issue in Australia is there are no rites of passage to see young boys through the teenage years into maturation as men. Instead we celebrate mass media constructs like action heroes that disparage women, or overlook the actions of sporting and showbiz icons who treat women appallingly.
We do well when we can teach children and adults to treat everyone with respect. If boys can learn to treat each other and girls and women with respect, then the desire to control and put others down will not be as prevalent. Healthy relationships are best modelled, not discussed – that presents both a challenge and an opportunity for us all. Giving people space to live their lives, treating them and ourselves with dignity and respect, is crucial to establishing healthy relationships.