For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, communities are central to identity, culture and lives. For someone experiencing domestic and family violence, this should never mean that they or their children have to sacrifice being a part of their community.
Everyone has the right to choose whether or not they or their family should attend a community or cultural event. If the choice is made to attend, it is important all of the risks are taken into consideration and that there is a plan around how to respond if any of these occur. This is called safety planning, and this is to ensure that the event can be attended as safely as possible.
Consider some of the following:
Think about who else may be attending the event – for instance will the perpetrator be there or other members of his family?
Be honest if you think that you can be safe if you choose to attend – if you think it is too much of a risk after considering all of the factors then your safety should be your first priority.
Plan ahead – call family and friends that you trust to see if they will be there too which may help you feel safe. Ensure that you let them know any concerns that you may have and if appropriate, you could involve them in your safety plan too – for example, you could ask them to keep an eye on you or you could ask them to assist you to leave the event if your safety is at risk.
If you know the venue or are familiar with the location of the event try to incorporate this into your safety plan – for example, if you know there is only one driveway into the football ground ensure that you park your car outside of the ground on the street, or near the entrance point so you can easily get away.
When you arrive check if there is security and that you know where the security people are.
When you arrive you may want to look around the event to see who has attended – there may be people there who are either ‘safe’ people or ‘risk’ people that you may not have considered in your planning and may need to adjust safety plan accordingly.
If you don’t have a car and are arriving by public transport, ensure you have the timetables and information at hand to ensure you can leave when you need to and don’t get stuck. You may want to consider putting aside extra money for a taxi in case you need to leave urgently.
Anyone who has experienced domestic or family violence doesn’t have to work all this out on their own. There are services available that can assist with developing a safety plan for cultural events, at home, and at work. A call to 1800RESPECT can put you in touch with services that have experience and knowledge of working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and are sensitive to the particular issues and barriers that can be faced.
Everyone deserves to be safe and live free from violence.
This article was kindly written and provided by 1800RESPECT.