During the course of my work, I frequently hear excuses from, albeit well meaning, bystanders who witness violence like ‘he just can’t control himself,’ ‘he’s always had a bad temper,’ the whole family is crazy.’ Certain practices within the Church justify the erroneous view that the person is not totally responsible for the violence. For example, men are taught to be head of the household demanding respect and obedience. Phrases that I have heard used to justify violence include ‘she just needs to be a better wife’, ‘men are just like that’. Some have even suggested to me that it was somehow mutual between the victim and the perpetrator. Undergirding these kind of comments is a core belief that there is nothing we can do to prevent gender violence. In my experience, this fundamental belief actually stops us thinking about new ways of responding to violence and practical steps that we can use to challenge attitudes and behaviors that condone violence. Our free active bystander workshops are designed to help us look for warning signs and gives safe and practical steps anyone can can take to intervene and prevent violence from occurring in the first place. Everyone has a role to play in preventing gender violence and, while no one can do everything, everyone can do something.
The views expressed on this page are those of Dr Ree Boddé and do not necessarily represent the views of the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne or its program partners Anglicare Victoria and the Brotherhood of St Laurence. While all reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this page, no liability is assumed for any errors or omissions.