Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Home Truths

Home Truths
by Siv Parker

It splatters across every community.  It congeals around every decision.  It is the stench that clouds every fresh idea.  It stains every wasted opportunity.

The Aboriginal community is awash with violence.  

And then it slunk into social media like a mangy dog, and then the outside world started to get a look at what had afflicted Indigenous families – the families that hadn’t found ways to prosper and nurture their own.

Violence that has gotten under the skin and into the blood. Violence that stuns, maims and kills. It is part of how we talk, meet, live and love.  Either we are avoiding it, rebuilding after suffering it or reprogramming after being decimated by it.

The prevailing tendency within Aboriginal politics is not to debate, it is to groom. Strong opinions attract sanctions on one hand, or flowery approvals on the other. Hostility and swift condemnation keep gates tightly shut. Tactics designed to maintain unease and confusion, to withstand attempts to empathise.  The uninvited cannot learn and risk falling into a pit dominated by tragedy hipsters and whataboutery; any opinion is scorned as missing the point, shallow and barren.

Have you ever seen scabies?  The tiny mites burrow into the skin and lay hundreds of eggs.  The irritation is ferocious.  Scratching rips the skin, only to repair, then rip, seal, and score over and over until the scar tissue and embedded infection forms a thick layer of dark, weeping flesh.

People born into abuse and violence are attracted to chaos, like a scabie to a hot blooded animal.  A person undaunted, is a super hero or a subcutaneous abscess.

It is a fact that trauma begets poor decision making.  It has fostered a silence around violence that is decades long.

If Aboriginal people are threatened, beaten or cajoled into silence, it’s hardly any surprise mainstream media has been reluctant to enter the knock down bloody space, when verification and authority are scarce and reluctant. Context is important - stories of oppression and injustice must be told - but it has become a shroud.

So how will resources come to communities, stood over by entrenched power bases, demanding women, children and men as well, continue to suffer in secrecy? 

One day will we have truth and reconciliation on violence – where victims are free to voice their suffering, and perpetrators can admit to themselves to what is common knowledge within communities?  Or perhaps they’ll be quietly left out and behind, a relic of a violent age when broken bodies, head injuries, sexual assault, broken families and pension day blues was more common than not.

Their advice that women don’t like to speak in public – will be proven wrong when women step out of the darkness.
Their suggestion that next time women will be included on panels, in leadership roles, as spokespeople and decision makers, will be unnecessary.  They and their advice will have been sidelined by women taking their place.
When women shout the men down on how they spend their money.
When children are proud of both of their parents, and not scared of at least one, and maybe both.

If it is bad in the nonIndigenous community, it is hell of a lot worse in the black one. And where men are the victims, their number is swamped by the number of women and their children.
Watching Part 1 of the two-part Hitting Home documentary series was to feel sad and sorry, and to mourn for all the women and children who didn’t have access to interventions by police and courts, who were without access to refuges and hospital counsellors. Where what is available is not enough and hear the stories of abuse and violence endured before women were able to flee, and think about maybe one day being safe. 
If funding - and reversals in decisions to cripple regional and remote support services for Aboriginal families - is only possible with media exposure, it is unconscionable – inhuman - to remain silent if you have a voice.

You don’t need to take my word for it. Examine who - exactly - is telling you not to speak out, or demanding you modify your words. And have a really good look at them. A real long look. 

It is possible to cut the poison out and speak up.  If I can do it, anyone can.  I never claimed to be super human.

Some thoughts I shared via Twitter.

There's many stories I could share.  Last night I thought of a girl I knew years ago, a girl I cannot forget.  If I put my mind to it, I can see her clearly.

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