Preventing Domestic and Family Violence
Air Force Values can Reinforce the White Ribbon Campaign in Preventing Domestic and Family Violence
Domestic violence or abuse are forms of violence where the victim has a close relationship with the offender. The offenders intimidate the victim, make them feel weak and insecure. Family and domestic violence are not limited by particular boundaries, hence it can be found in diverse cultures communities and across different ages and sexes. Victims that experience these types of violence should note that the offenders are committing a crime and it is not their fault (Alexander, 2002). While physical forms of abuse such as physical harm and sexual abuse can cause great damage, other non-physical forms of abuse such as psychological and emotional abuse such as humiliations in public, financial abuse and verbal abuse are also quite damaging. Statistics from studies conducted indicate that women undergo family and domestic violence much more than men. Furthermore, research shows that men are the most perpetrators of family and domestic violence and many of these men turn violent against women and children in order to maintain control of their families and/or partners (Weiss, 2003).
The White Ribbon Campaign
The White Ribbon campaign is an international effort by men and boys who are working towards putting an end to violence against women. This campaign was born out of a tragedy in which a University of Montreal student massacred 14 female students. In response to this despicable act of violence, men in Toronto decided to speak out on violence against women. Thus a male-led initiative began in 1991 and was christened White Ribbon. Each year between 25 November and 6 December White Ribbon Day is held in more than 57 countries worldwide (European Institute for Gender Equality, 2016).
White Ribbon Australia aims at engaging men and highlighting the role that they can play together with women in stopping the violence against women. It is essential that men understand that a woman’s safety is a man’s issue too and despite popular belief, most men are not violent. Furthermore, only a handful of men use violence against women. The majority of men share the common belief that it unacceptable for men to commit any form of violent acts against women (Kilmartin, 2013). The White Ribbon campaign believes that having men speak to other men on violence against women could be a major catalyst for change. Through the provision of the right tools such as creative campaigns, education, partnerships, awareness campaigns and preventive programs, men are empowered to stop all sorts of violence against women in their homes, communities and beyond. Through positive engagement of men, White Ribbon Australia is able to provide a safe and inclusive platform where men can discuss the sensitive and complex issue of violence against women (Pease, 2013).
The white ribbon campaign in Australia employs a strategy that is backed by research and is evidence based. It is tailored with clear and powerful messages to engage and inspire Australian males (Men and Boys) into taking action and bringing change on the issue of violence against women. Although the campaign acknowledges that violence can be experienced and can indeed be perpetrated by both men and women, it lays its focus mainly on one type of violence – that is the violence perpetrated by men against women. However, White Ribbon Australia appreciates that inclusion and diversity plays an extremely important role in the Australian way of life and therefore it embraces all forms of diversity. Such diversity includes gender diversity, age diversity, social and economic diversity as well as race and religion diversity (Seely, 2007).
Effects of Domestic and Family Violence
Family and domestic violence has serious and far reaching negative effects that affect the victims of such violence, the people close to these victims and the wider community as well. The victims of direct violence will live in fear of further violence or may even fear for their lives. They also will experience depression and shame when they relive the despicable violent acts committed to them. The victims will also feel anger against their perpetrators since they are people close to them and they cannot comprehend how they could be so abusive. These victims may also result to using drugs and alcohol to block the painful memories. Alcohol and drug abuse could result in injury or even death. In extreme cases the victims will entertain suicidal thoughts and may even attempt the act itself (Kimmel, 2015).
The children who witness domestic violence will have problems in school, may start taking alcohol and could either become a bully or be bullied. Families where there is chronic domestic violence will certainly breakup. Ultimately there is bound to be community conflict where there are frequent cases of family and domestic violence and drug and alcohol abuse will be higher in such communities (True, 2012). Family and domestic violence not only affects a person’s private life, it also affects their work life and the cost of such violence results in real costs and negative outcomes at the workplace. Studies indicate that in Australia, violence perpetrated by an intimate partner is the leading cause of disability, death and illness amongst females aged 15 to 44 years. It is responsible for much more disease burden than even smoking and obesity. When an employee’s health is this grim, so is their productivity at work (Gullotta, 2016).
The economic cost of intimate partner violence to the economy of Australia is currently estimated to be over $9 billion annually and if no preventive action is taken this figure is projected to be over 10 billion by the year 2022. Statistics from Australian Bureau of Statistics are grim as they estimate that between 55% and 70% (around 800,000) of all women who are experiencing or have experienced domestic violence are currently working (Donnelly, 2016). This means that one woman in six working women has experienced some form of domestic violence. Domestic and family violence against working women will result to decreased productivity and performance at the workplace, increased absenteeism and staff turnover and in the long run it could have a negative impact on an organizations image and reputation (Taylor, 2013).
Air Force Values Align with White Ribbon Campaign
The Australian Air Force values include: Excellence – the air force is committed to continuous improvement in everything they do; Respect – the air force respects others rights and recognize diversity of all people; Agility – the air force is resilient and can rapidly respond to any sort of challenge; Integrity – the air force is ethical, honest and has the courage to do what is right; Teamwork – the air force is ready to collaborate and share the responsibility of ensuring a safe environment everywhere and Dedication –the air force is trusted to guard and defend our country and people always. These values are guidelines that provide standards and expectations that the air force personnel have to live by every day. These values are to be practiced at all times wherever one may be. Each officer is held to account at all times and must display a high standard of service, demonstrate responsibility and be a leader at all times (Curtain, 2013).
Excellent values such as those that guide the air force will be a great foundation to start an accreditation program with White Ribbon. The air force already lives by values that align with those of the White Ribbon campaign. Men who abide by values such as integrity, respect, teamwork and dedication will ensure that women are always protected, are given the respect they deserve and when need be they will go to any lengths to ensure the perpetrators of violence against women are brought to justice (Nakray, 2013).
The air force is already running a work place accreditation program with White Ribbon Australia since it recognizes the impact that violence against women has on health and safety of its air force personnel and the community at large. The program will increase the skills and knowledge of all staff on the issue of violence against women that is perpetrated by men. This also aligns with the objectives of the air force to pursue cultural change through the horizon agenda since the values (such as respect, integrity and teamwork) that will be ingrained into the air force personnel could act as a foundation on which to build the culture change program (Glozier, 2016).
Domestic and family violence is more common than most people believe and affects mostly women. This violence affects not only the victims but also the people close to these victims as well as the community at large. Losses incurred at the work place due to domestic violence are immense and continue to grow. The White Ribbon is a men-led global movement formed to speak out on violence against women. It empowers men to speak to other men on the complex issue that is domestic violence and seeks to sensitize each and everyone on this issue. Many organizations such as the Australian air force have taken accredited programs with White Ribbon in an effort to curb this monstrous problem. Such a bold move by the air force should pave way for other organizations to join in the fight against domestic and family violence and especially violence against women.
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