Rosie Batty - 2015 Australian of the Year

Rosie Batty - 2015 Australian of the Year

Thank God for the courage of women like Rosie Batty, who speak out against domestic violence through the pain of their own immense personal loss.

Right from her very first media appearance a year ago, which was the morning after her 11 year old son was killed by her husband at his cricket practice, Rosie Batty was ready to campaign against family violence.

“Family violence happens to everybody, no matter how nice your house is, no matter how intelligent you are,” she said, challenging the stereotype that family violence only occurs in certain 'types' of families.

Rosie also refused the temptation to make a scapegoat of perpetrators by oversimplifying the issues involved, speaking about her husband’s love for her son.

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Rosie also refused the temptation to make a scapegoat of perpetrators by oversimplifying the issues involved, speaking about her husband’s love for her son.

Some have attributed Rosie’s determination to turn her grief into a positive message was a major contributor to the now underway Royal Commission into Family Violence in Victoria. Certainly, her story has provoked a new conversation in Australia about family violence.

Following on from Rosie’s Australia Day honours, many have asserted that it is not right nor fair that Rosie Batty and other survivors should have to do the work of responding to family violence alone.

This is especially so given that current statistics indicate everyone has a sibling, neighbour, friend, workmate, or associate who is experiencing violence. In fact, the ABS reported that 46% of physical violence against women was committed by a current or previous partner, which does not even touch on other forms of abuse normally included under the umbrella of family violence, such as financial coercion or verbal intimidation.

For those of us seeking to walk in the path that Rosie and others have courageously forged, one of the most challenging tasks ahead is identifying where we've gone wrong as a society for these statistics to be our reality, and what the Australian community can do about it.

Are we willing to open our homes to women fleeing violent partners? Are we willing to open our eyes and ears to the possibility that someone we love and respect might be violent to their partner or children? Are we willing to insist that more is done by our leaders, whether in our workplaces, our churches, or our government?

In a 666 ABC radio yesterday, Rosie surprised listeners as she explained that she has forgiven her husband for killing her son. She said:

“Forgiving is not forgetting and it’s not condoning. It's about saying what happened cannot consume me.”

Forgiveness involves looking at the stark ugliness of an action or the lifestyle of another, and refusing to let that thing become all you acknowledge about them, or something that requires your personal judgment or vengeance. True forgiveness does not rob victims of their right to justice, but provides access to the personal benefit of overcoming trauma and the hope of healing through Jesus Christ, for all those affected by family violence.

As Christians, there is clearly a lot that we can do to encourage survivors of family violence regarding forgiveness, a foundational tenet of our faith. And yet there is much more that we can and should be involved in, not the least of which is advocating for survivors in instances where we find our society’s system’s failing.

My prayer is that when it comes to the tragedy of family violence, we would be found willing to roll up our sleeves and get involved in what God is doing. And that together, we would see both God’s justice and forgiveness extended on here earth, as it is in heaven, to all those who have felt its effects.

Do you need support?

The following Domestic and Family Violence support services are available:

Domestic & Family Violence