Caroline Counsel recently spoke about Family Violence at an event on the 28 July 2019 I AM WOMAN WATCH ME WALK at Princes Park. The women behind the event are Nicole Rowan, Ashlee Donohue, Sarah Fiess and Clare Fitzgerald and they are also the founders of Australian Women’s Day which will be celebrated each year on 22 September.  It so happens that there is a 40.6% increase in reports of family violence associated with major sporting events.  Hence the annual date has been chosen to coincide with events like AFL football finals.  If you would like to know more about what these amazing women have in store, please email [email protected] or go on line at

Events will be planned each year in which you can participate and show your support.  Every year, the founders will present research about women and their challenges to government to ensure that government can then have an informed conversation regarding issues such as Family Violence, Gender Pay Inequity and the like.

Caroline spoke with ABC News in the lead up to Sunday’s event to offer her expert insight into the impact of family violence on families and what can be done going forward to assist those who are victims of family violence. Caroline recently raised further awareness surrounding the issue on Pulse Radio following Sunday’s event also and the focus was on what we can do better to combat family violence and what more remains to be done.

Caroline Counsel’s conversation with Mitchell Dye can be heard at the following link.


Caroline’s speech can be seen below:

We know the statistics.  White Ribbon Australia tells us that:

  • On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner
  • 1 in 4 women have experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner since the age of 15 and 1 in 6 men. (ABS 2017)
  • 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15 (ABS 2017)
  • 85% of Australian women have been sexually harassed.

If violence against women were a disease or a threatened species, we would see massive annual fund raisers aimed at stamping this out –we would see governments mobilised and committed to ridding the community of such a pernicious disease.  It is certainly an epidemic.  And like an epidemic, it knows no class, no religion, no age, no IQ – no postcode.  It is everywhere.

As a family lawyer, I see the impact of family violence every day.  I have seen too many of my family law female clients end up in shallow graves.  I have seen women stalked and harassed, their phones and cars bugged.  My clients have told me that they would get a call while standing the checkout in the supermarket – their husbands telling them to return essential grocery items.  Too many of them have been verbally, emotionally or physically attacked.  Many have not been able to leave. Abusive partners cutting off their financial means of escape or controlling them by monitoring their every move.  Too many have been brainwashed into thinking they are worthless. 

Their crime?  Trying to leave their violent partners. Trying to get back some semblance of who they were and recapture the hope of who they might become.   Many are unable to identify as being victims of family violence and need a lot of help, support and counselling to make their way to freedom and away from abuse. 

It is a mistake to think that the damage that family violence inflicts is limited to the intimate partner relationship. That violence starts the ripple in the pond.  Family violence affects their children in terrible, and in many cases, permanent ways.  The perpetuation of violence often becomes generational.  What they see often becomes their destiny – either by these children emulating the violent partner or choosing a violent partner. 

Children, like their mothers, are often silent victims.  They have no ability to speak out against what is happening or make it stop.  They feel they have no power to change their circumstances.  When you think they are asleep and haven’t heard – I can assure you they know and hear everything.  They lie awake in the dark, dreading what comes next. 

Family violence affects extended family members.  Parents and siblings of the abused stand by, either helpless to know what to do or unaware of the hell their daughter or sister lives in.  It also affects the community as a whole.  Resources are stretched trying to cope with this epidemic– first responders use an inordinate percentage of their resources and barely cope with the families who come to their attention.  And those families are the tip of the iceberg.    

How did we end up here?  Since the English arrived and colonised this country, convicts and soldiers spawned white Australia.  And what of the women?  If Hollywood were casting a film, it would look for three types of women to play a part in this drama.  They would form a support role or background to the male drama – they would be looking for female convicts, whores or skivvies.  This is not to detract from those amazing women – both of our first nations and migrants since – who have forged ahead and triumphed in their lives and against many adversities.  I believe that history instructs but it need not dictate what happens next. 

We choose the future we want.  We choose to fight family violence head on and treat it as an epidemic.  We choose to demand more resources be given by government.  We choose to find determined leaders who demand a concerted effort from all to combat it.  Today, each one of us needs to decide which side of herstory you are going to be on.  Look to the right of you and the left and say “no more”.  No more violence shall be inflicted on your sisters.  No more murders, rapes and the deathly slow erosion of our women at the hands of coercive controlling men.

Men must come on this journey as family violence is gendered.  They must stand with us on the right side of herstory and join with us and say “No more”!  And men – you have to mean it. 

This is your liberation from violence as well.

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