Pauline Hanson’s Appointment as Deputy Chair of Family Violence Enquiry Apalls me!

“Women make up stories of family violence” Pauline Hanson has said publicly.

When I learned that Pauline Hanson was appointed deputy chair of this parliamentary investigation into family violence in the family court system, I couldn’t believe it!! Then I heard her interviewed regarding her appointment and the impact of this development came crashing down on me.

Women will remain disempowered and discriminated against because of this.

Immediately I knew her appointment would do significant damage to the cause of addressing and improving family violence responses in this country. I knew that her impact would put women at greater danger. I saw opportunities for misogynists, anti women campaigns that dominate the right of politics, and the power players who have so much invested in women remaining disempowered and discriminated against, gaining traction.

Women were going to be killed in even higher numbers by men who will feel empowered by Hanson’s rhetoric.

That this woman, an elected member of the Australian senate, would be given a platform to do so much damage, and that the government, knowing her negative attitudes towards victims of family violence, had set this up, spoke alarmingly of their attitude to women and investment in right wing, conservative views on power politics.

My Personal History of Domestic Violence Growing up in Melbourne

I grew up in domestic violence. My father was violent towards my mother. He was violent until a few days prior to the day he died in 2011 at the age of 76 years. In early years he was more physically violent. As he met familial and community disapproval for his violence, his method turned more to emotional, financial and psychological abuse.
His physical violence towards my mother declined but stepped up towards my younger brother when he was a child. The physical assaults against my brother grew more intense as he got older, however, he got more defiant, attempting to protect himself from these assaults.
Once the inevitable standoff occurred and my brother threatened to return the violence towards my father, the physical violence stopped. The bully retreated. But then it was my turn.

My Personal History of Domestic Violence Growing up in Melbourne

I grew up in domestic violence. My father was violent towards my mother. He was violent until a few days prior to the day he died in 2011 at the age of 76 years. In early years he was more physically violent. As he met familial and community disapproval for his violence, his method turned more to emotional, financial and psychological abuse.
His physical violence towards my mother declined but stepped up towards my younger brother when he was a child. The physical assaults against my brother grew more intense as he got older, however, he got more defiant, attempting to protect himself from these assaults.
Once the inevitable standoff occurred and my brother threatened to return the violence towards my father, the physical violence stopped. The bully retreated. But then it was my turn.

Having avoided physical violence through submissive and approval seeking behaviour until I was seventeen, I was my father’s next victim.

He needed an outlet for his aggression and hatred and that was to be me. My father punched me in the face over a disagreement about the television. I knew defying his instruction to turn the television off would result in violence, but I had had enough of my own submissive behaviour.

I subsequently ran away and stayed with an Aunt for a short while. Days later I returned, defiant and prepared to protect myself from this violence. The bully sensed my determination to not be a victim again and there was no more physical violence.

By then I had another family who loved me, my boyfriend’s family, and largely I stayed away from home. I left semi-permanently at 19 to escape the tense and unhappy environment, returning briefly before leaving permanently to marry at 21 years.

I wasn’t really ready for this adult chapter, but freedom from the abuse was most important.

I didn’t call my family dynamic family violence in the late seventies and early eighties. I didn’t have words for what my family was back then….until I studied psychology at university in my late twenties.
When seeking employment, I had to prepare for interviews in child protection and human services roles. The clients and their families that I was learning about in the work I planned to do were me.
I was reading about myself!!!!

What followed was a long period of depression and anxiety as my memories resurfaced and as my understanding of what I had gone through began to be processed and its legacy confronted.

Although I denied it to psychologists and psychiatrists I consulted, I was a very wounded girl with terribly low self esteem and self worth.

I masked this, with bravado, high spirits and success in my work but an astute observer of my defences would have seen a lost, troubled young woman plagued with the guilt of being a bad person, an unlovable woman.

As my work as a psychologist developed in my more mature adult years, I saw the society I lived in begin to uncover its underbelly of misogyny and abuse against women. I found strong women to support me, I read copiously about gender politics, addiction, co-dependence and increasingly the politics of power. I read and then met well known Canadian author and therapist Marion Woodman.

I developed a keen interest in the patriarchy and specifically the impact of the patriarchy on women. I found it particularly interesting to learn about the many patriarchal daughters that inhabited my world.

Pauline Hanson is a text book case of a Patriarchal Daughter whose better interests lie always with the man.

This is where Pauline Hanson comes into my story, for Pauline is a text book case of a Patriarchal Daughter. I have written about patriarchy previously and I plan to write a separate article on the Patriarchal Daughter. Let’s just say, patriarchal daughters do not come down on the side of women in a dispute or where loyalty is a choice. They will nearly always side with the man and invest themselves in his interests, priorities, perceptions and story.

Returning to the story of those suffering family violence as a child, and as an adult (for the readers information my family suffered at my dad’s hands until us kids were well into our adult years. Dad didn’t die till I was 49 years old) a child and/or adult woman will get support depending on who and how she is believed as a victim of this violence.

Violence from Men is still often condoned in Australian society.

Pauline Hanson condones violence. She speaks in defence of men in relation to the family court, specifically men whose partners speak of their experiences of family violence at the hands of their partners.

She defends her male colleagues in her One Nation party who seek to dismantle Australian gun laws and whose public behaviour is openly disrespectful of women.

I can’t think of a woman parliamentarian she has a close relationship with. This is the hallmark of a Patriarchal Daughter.

One of the most important aspects to a woman seeking help and surviving family violence is her ability or experience of being believed. Her story of family violence must be understood, and she needs to be heard and for that story to be believed.

As a child I didn’t attempt to tell my story, to seek to be believed. I don’t recall a single conversation about my father’s violence, except maybe later as a teenager with my equally young boyfriend at the time.

I don’t recall a conversation until I had a shiny black eye from his punch that night of the television dispute.

Friends tell me teachers at my high school indicated that they noticed my black eye, and it was a beauty, but I don’t remember a single inquiry from any teacher about my injury.

My relatives knew of the violence, but it was expected that I would return home to that violent household.

No police report was made.

I don’t believe anyone used the term family violence about my family.

My boyfriend’s family never asked me about the violence.

Of course, in those days domestic disputes were considered private and out of bounds for general discussion. Being a private matter, no one asked me any questions. I would have answered honestly, no doubt, as I am not a secretive person and don’t hide my truth or experiences. But no one did ask.

Common Perception was that my Dad had some sort of entitlement to control and discipline his teenage daughter, fists and all.

At this time (1979) and I imagine this was the case. No doubt I would have been blamed, to some degree, for bringing this on myself, for I had provoked him. I’d held my ground to defend my rights. It’s ok for some to defend their rights but I was just a girl!!!!!!!!!

Not being believed continued into my adult life.

I encountered, probably the usual, disrespect and entitlement from men and boys, in my workplace especially.
More difficulties were experienced in my intimate life in my late twenties and thirties and I attempted to speak and seek support from a number of professionals regarding these issues of abuse.

Typically, I was not supported and not believed by the psychologists and counsellors I consulted. So I left their care.

This was the case with both male and female professionals in the helping field. Probably the most disrespectful and dismissive health professional I consulted was an older woman, a therapist. She outright sided with the abuser and seemed to support behaviour that was criminal and could potentially end in a criminal conviction. She clearly didn’t believe me,just as Pauline Hanson doesn’t believe female victims in the family court.

What is going to happen to women who are victims of domestic violence when they approach, and are perhaps questioned, by Pauline Hanson in a government sponsored formal investigation into family violence?

I want YOU the reader of this article, if you are to take anything away from this piece, to consider the power involved in believing or not believing a victim when they disclose family violence.

The most damaging and distressing thing that happened to me as I negotiated my world and encountered many abuses in my environment, was not being believed by many people, fortunately not all.

The most helpful, therapeutic and decent thing you can do for a woman in these circumstances is to believe her story.

Not being believed is almost worse than suffering the abuse itself and guarantees that she will be further silenced, marginalised and put at risk of more soul destroying behaviour, because if you don’t believe her, how much harder is it for her to believe in herself?

If my opinion were to be sought, I would suggest women don’t give evidence at this enquiry into family violence which is deputy chaired by Pauline Hanson.

I think it is inevitable that if they do they will be further abused by the process given the deputy chairperson’s beliefs, overtly stated in the media, that women make up stories of family violence.

We are yet to hear the formal details of this committee and their investigation.

I will be writing to the chairperson, Kevin Andrews, to express my disapproval of how it has been set up, and specifically Pauline Hanson’s role as deputy chairperson.

The chairperson himself is known to be highly conservative in his views on marriage and gender roles and has all the privileges of the patriarchy that aim to maintain that power position of male dominance, so I won’t hold my breath for an answer.

In the meantime, I work with the women who seek me out as a therapist with a speciality in family violence and sexual abuse. I continue my own fight for my story to be believed, for the knowledge I have gained and subsequently the voice I have achieved, to receive a platform and hopefully, to maintain some hope that change is upon us.

The best antidote to patriarchy and the best way to help its defiant daughters, is to champion young, important polictical women and all others like them. They are the answer.

Ultimately, we are all part of the answer collectively.  If you’ve enjoyed reading please share this story.

 

If you’re located in Melbourne’s Northern suburbs I offer counselling at my private studio in Eltham. Call to discuss an appointment

Recent & Popular Articles from Carolyn

No Escape from abusive partner covid 19 lockdown

No Escape from abusive partner covid 19 lockdown

A Case of Domestic Violence During Covid19 LockdownCarly is in lockdown for covid19 with her 11 year old son, and with a man she recently moved in with and his two young children. Things are not going well for Carly on many fronts. She has been forced to close her...

read more
The Patriarchal Daughter

The Patriarchal Daughter

Are you A Patriarchal Daughter?The woman I am talking about, usually doesn’t know she is a patriarchal daughter. She’s not fond of reflection or self questioning, because she has the backing of some big guys, important guys in her world. Her guys may not be physically...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this post with your friends!