Gender stereotypes 'no excuse to turn violent'

VIOLENT men are having their actions explained away as uncontrollable male urges and it is making it harder for some women to even realise they are victims.

Shocking statistics released this week by Victorian Health reveal that 64% of Australians believe domestic violence happens because men simply cannot control their anger and almost half of Australians believe men rape because of their inability to control a primitive need for sex.

One in six Australians believe when a woman says "no" to sex, she is simply being playful and really means "yes".

Warwick domestic violence prevention advocate Bette Bonney said gender stereotypes should never be used to justify abuse.

"Women should never feel that violence is deserved or it is okay because he is a guy and he can't help it," she said.

"Everyone is responsible for their own actions - there is always a choice."

Mrs Bonney said many women were abused for years before they even realised they were in a violent relationship and these stereotypes could further normalise abuse.

"If women have grown up in a family where there is abuse they think it is normal and will often find a partner who is exactly the same," she said.

"It often gets to the point where it becomes so horrific that the woman realises it isn't safe for her and her children and she has to leave.

"But we want people to realise there is a problem and seek help before it gets horrific."

Mrs Bonney said the men could be equally as oblivious to the fact they were abusers.

"Some men don't think there is anything wrong and that they're allowed to be like that because they're men, or they had too much to drink, or whatever it may be," she said. "The other side of that is men can be very self-contained and don't like to admit they need help."

Mrs Bonney would like to see the issue become one for the proverbial village, instead of being a burden for the victim alone.

"We tend to be very private and often feel minding our own business is the Australian way," she said.

"We all have our family units and don't comment on what other family units are doing. But we need to look out for problems and speak up - it could save a life."

Reach out

If you or someone you know is in a violent relationship, phone one of these helplines for assistance:

DV Connect on 1800 811 811

1800 RESPECT

If it's an emergency, phone 000.



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