This week we confront a serious but hidden problem in our country. We ask some very big questions about the issue of family violence. We approach this confronting but necessary issue with sensitivity and wisdom and discover a surprising alternative vision of harmony, peace and human flourishing.
Our guest: Robyn Boosey (Melbourne Anglican Diocese program manager of the Prevention of Violence against Women)
This show was recorded in partnership with St. Augustine's Moreland Anglican Church.
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Bigger Questions asked in the conversation
Now we want to acknowledge that today’s topic is a confronting one dealing with potentially disturbing issues as we talk about family violence. But Robyn, whilst confronting, do you think this is an important issue to talk about?
Just also to clarify, Robyn, you don’t work on the specific individual cases of family violence, you look more at the bigger picture, don’t you?
Now Robyn, we have touched on some big and disturbing questions today - now if our conversation has triggered concerns for anyone listening - how can they get help?
Smaller Questions - (02:00)
Now, we like to kick off Bigger Questions with some smaller questions - just to get us thinking. So Robyn, in our smaller questions today I thought I’d ask you some questions used in an educational quiz produced by AVERT Family Violence - an Australian Government Initiative. Three questions which I’ve taken from their quiz on the Dimensions and Dynamics of Family Violence.
Prevalence of family violence
So Robyn, whilst this is an uncomfortable topic, it seems shocking that women are most at risk of violence in their own homes. Can this really be true?
So it’s a big and very real issue in Australia today?
There’s different terms and terminology which is used to describe this issue - there’s domestic or family violence - now is this difference in terminology significant?
What exactly constitutes family violence? For as our smaller questions highlighted, it’s not just physical assault? So what exactly is it?
You mentioned just now that it’s about a pattern - so is a pattern significant in trying to determine family violence?
You focus specifically on violence against women. But family violence can also involve men as victims as well can’t it? But perhaps this is expressed very differently? Can you unpack that a little bit?
Right. Yeah, So it’s obviously very serious the violence that women are facing, that’s why you’re doing your role I suppose. But then you mentioned that it’s widespread, so exactly how widespread?
Why care: what motivates Robyn?
Robyn, you work as Prevention of Violence against Women program manager for the Anglican Diocese of Melbourne. It sounds like a very tough job - so what motivates you to do that?
Why care? Robyn’s story
But what made Jesus an inspiration for you, for you didn’t grow up in the church did you?
Elements underlying this in our culture
So what do you think are some of the key elements of our culture that underpins and drives violence against women?
So how can we combat this?
The model and inspiration of Jesus
Now you mentioned Jesus as a key motivator for you Robyn and there are a couple of stories of Jesus encountering women in the Gospels, for example, the Gospel of Luke, which is one of the four biographies of Jesus’ life we have. In Luke 8 a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years approaches him and touches him. This would have been a major thing for her to do in her culture, so what do you think motivated her to touch Jesus?
Jesus notices then after she touches him that power has gone from him and twice asks the crowd who touched him. Then in Luke 8:47, the passage says that the woman realised she couldn’t go unnoticed, so she came trembling and fell at Jesus’ feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. So Robyn, this is a remarkable story, but how do you react to it?
Now the woman comes to Jesus trembling, so here is a woman in a position of potential vulnerability, coming to a man of power, influence and an enthusiastic following. She has clearly done something without his consent - so can you appreciate then why she came to his feet trembling?
Then Jesus responds in verse 48, “ Then he said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.’ Now do you think this interaction challenges the gender roles of the first century?
What is it about Jesus’ words ‘Go in peace’ which helps amidst family violence situations - peace seems to be the very opposite of what is experienced?
Now Robyn, you must encounter lots of brokenness and difficulty in your work, so how does reflecting afresh on this character of Jesus impact you?
The Big Question
So Robyn, how can we prevent family violence?