Mathew Mackie

Domestic Violence: How I found I was part of the problem

TBS Editor Mathew Mackie was appalled to discover that despite his opposition to it, he knew nothing about Domestic Violence.


Today being White Ribbon day, I wanted to write something about it, something where I could say something meaningful. Something Poetic. Something to lend my support in fighting Domestic Violence.

I discussed the idea with a close friend, but when I realised that I’d be discussing a topic that was beyond me, I cut a hasty retreat, running down the trodden path of “I’ll just carry on not being part of the problem, then”

As the responsive ‘please explain’ text messages filled my inbox, I felt progressively worse about myself. Not that I have participated in Domestic Violence, but because I knew nothing about it.

It’s not that I’m unaware of it. I’ve seen it before, in places of my youth. From those experiences, I decided on taking a different path. And I have. But because I have not, nor will I ever abuse a partner of mine, I suppose I distanced myself from the issue.

But by thinking that I was off the hook for that reason, she explained, I was still part of the problem. Inaction on the subject, by default, is one of the reasons why domestic violence continues be a vast societal issue.

My friend said that while I’m a good egg, and definitely not a perpetrator, there’s much work that I need to do.

I naturally assumed that Domestic Violence was overt. An irrefutable dirty beacon that prompts you to say ‘That’s Domestic Violence’. Something tangible. Physical or emotional violence so rampant, it’s impossible to miss.

When the Law gets involved.

That’s Domestic Violence.

The reality is, that domestic violence breathes in a subtler, greyer form. Staggeringly, as indirect as it is direct. Looking into the information provided, it was a shock to the system. Because I realised I have witnessed it, and said nothing.

How do you voice your concerns to those you know may be inadvertently/deliberately committing it?

If it’s not your place to say, should you? If it’s the partner of someone I love, how do I handle it?

Hard questions that aren’t, but should be answered.

I suppose the main reason why not, is because the barriers that need to be broken, lay in the tight-knit territories of friendship.

 For example, and being brutally honest here, if a friend said to me “Hey… You’re doing such and such to your partner and it isn’t right…” the vestiges of friend etiquette would flare, and while I may accept the advice, I also may not. As it is a hard fact to accept, I may hide behind a different issue, one of “Well what does he know ”

So I guess the buck is often passed, and we carry on. Which is a terrible set of circumstances, but I fear it’s one that rings true.

Which is a problem that should be solved by further education. To start mine, I was referred to the Duluth Model, a program developed by the DAIP. The information on the site describes multiple types of violence that are used in unhealthy relationships.

My research so far has revealed that none of us are immune, despite my staunch stance against domestic violence, it pains me to say it, I’ve toed the line. I can see there are some areas where my behaviour toward women needs improvement. Along the stark, obvious methods of abuse, lay the ‘small’ things. Things I dismissed as ammunition in a fight. The inability to accept that I was wrong, the extended mind games – all fired in the heat of the argument, yes, but the bitter realisation stared back at me in uniform black-and-white.

It is a form of abuse.

Similarly, the line between being chivalric and exerting dominance. I prefer to be the problem solver in my relationships. Something I thought was positive, which was actually detrimental.

Vicious realisation weighs heavily on my mind as I type this. There’s a universal truth to it, what I knew, was nothing. So what I would suggest is that today of all days, White Ribbon Day, read the material, do your own thinking, and look for it in your own actions.

Then pass it on.


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