Family Law Blog

Stop it at the start - Putting an end to domestic violence

Posted by Karina Ralston on 12 May 2016

The amount of domestic and personal violence recorded in Australia over the last ten years is at record highs, with close to half (44.8%) of all Australians experiencing violence since the age of 15. However, whilst the proportion of men experiencing violence in the last 12 months has reduced, the proportion of women experiencing violence has not. 

While men are more likely than women to experience physical violence and, the majority of men experience physical violence from another man, the statistics of women who have experienced physical violence and sexual assault remains staggeringly high (often perpetrated by a boyfriend/date). In addition, women are significantly more likely than men to have experienced emotional abuse. 

Whilst many organisations seek to assist victims of violence following the violence occurring, the Federal Government has just launched a new campaign, ‘Stop it at the Start’, which aims to reduce the prevalence of violence against women by intervening before it begins. 

The campaign targets how parents raise young boys. Like an earlier government campaign against excessive drinking, which showed children mimicking the behaviour of their parents, the new campaign highlights that some of the messages we receive in childhood can contribute to an attitude that violence towards women is ok – it focuses on changing attitudes early on with the slogan “stop it at the start.”

In the confronting opening scene of the TV ad, a young boy deliberately slams the door in a girl’s face. “You’re ok,” the mum says to the girl. “He just did it cause he likes you.”

The campaign provides snapshots of the boy as he grows, depicting moments when his father says “don’t throw like a girl,” where he takes a photo looking down a girl’s top without her permission, and then as an adult, fighting with his partner. 

“Violence against women starts with disrespect. The excuses we make allow it to grow,” the voiceover says as the adult man becomes the boy standing over a frightened woman.

Minister for Social Services, the Hon Christian Porter, said the campaign targeted how people “unknowingly excuse and therefore perpetuate the behavior that can lead to violence.” 

“Our research shows that too often, adults believe that disrespectful or aggressive behaviour by young males towards young females is something that should be understood rather than judged and discouraged. Research shows adults often unwittingly excuse objectively unacceptable behaviour with notions such as ‘boys will be boys’,” he said.

The campaign seeks to positively influence attitudes before they become entrenched and allow the behaviour to occur, and encourages parents, family members, teachers, coaches, community leaders, employers and other role models, to ensure that they are providing and reinforcing appropriate attitudes. 

View the video on the “Respect” campaign website

Read the research, ‘Reducing violence against women and their children’, that informed the campaign.

If you are, or know a victim or domestic violence, reach out for help:

•    National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, and Counselling Service - 1800 737 732 (24-hour)
•    ‘Daisy’- Connecting Women – Smartphone application for domestic violence victims for ease of access to government services. Available on the Apple App Store and Google Play
•    NSW Domestic Violence Line - 1800 656 463 (24-hour).

View a full list of available resources for victims of violence.