Published by the 50/50 by 2030 Foundation, University of Canberra

Research and Stories through a Gendered Lens

Placing family violence survivors at the centre

Feb 25, 2022 | Podcast, Power, Domestic abuse, Gender, Safety, Misogyny, Trauma, Sexual violence, Feature

Written by Ginger Gorman

In a brand new podcast called “There’s No Place Like Home”, produced by Future Women, survivors are placed at the centre of the story.
Ten brave Australians speak candidly about abuse they’ve endured at the hands of a current or former partner. Our editor, Ginger Gorman, had a chat with podcast host, Tarang Chawla.

Tarang, for those people who don’t know you, briefly tell us a bit about your story. 

Tarang Chawla hosts the new podcast "There’s No Place Like Home." Picture: Supplied

Tarang Chawla hosts the new podcast “There’s No Place Like Home.” Picture: Supplied

In January 2015, my little sister Nikita was murdered by her male partner. She was 23. Less than two days before she was stabbed to death, Niki told her partner that she wanted to leave. Niki’s murder was the final act of control by a jealous and possessive individual, but the abuse inflicted upon her didn’t start there. Like many other victims of men’s violence, Nikita was subjected to, and endured, emotional, psychological, financial, spiritual and technological abuse before her perpetrator murdered her.

As a person, Nikita was one of the most generous, kind and loving souls you could ever imagine. She was warm, caring and nothing was too big of an ask if you needed something of her. Her one true love and passion in life was dance and choreography.

Prior to her murder, she was completing a Bachelor of Performing Arts and it upsets and angers me that she had the opportunity to create and be creative taken from her.

Domestic abuse is a national crisis in Australia. One woman is killed nearly every week in Australia, usually by a man she knows. But at the same time, it’s hard to keep the public’s focus on the issue. How does There’s No Place Like Home aim to do this?

For a long time, domestic abuse and family violence has been seen as a “women’s issue” or something that should not be discussed openly because it often occurs behind closed doors. That’s why we’ve seen phrases such as, “It’s just a domestic” become so normalised in Australian culture. So there has been this taboo to even speak about the issue.

What makes it even harder is that we often hear from experts, but not as many victim-survivors. There’s No Place Like Home takes the approach of passing the mic to ten different survivors, each with their own unique experience of domestic abuse and family violence. By focusing on a survivor and bringing in the experts where necessary, we get a real picture of what the abuse and violence looks like, and more importantly what we as the public can actually do to be part of ending this national emergency.

Without giving away too much about the podcast, what did you learn about domestic abuse in Australia that you didn’t know? 

While we all have an understanding of the issue and its prevalence, for instance we’ll hear things such as, on average, one woman a week is killed by a current or former partner. Or that one in six women and one in 16 men have experienced violence from their intimate partner. But in creating There’s No Place Like Home what became abundantly clearer to me is the ripple effects of domestic abuse and family violence.

Many of the experts hinted at how much support is needed from all pillars of society, from governments to businesses and community support to address the issue in a holistic way. The victim survivors taught me how much expertise there is in lived experience and how important it is that we continue amplify their voices, learn from what they have endured and then implement policy change to create a future without abuse and violence.

There are many compelling moments in your podcast series – both personal stories and expert opinions and facts. But which incident or interaction sticks in your mind and why?

Geraldine Bilston says she misses the person she was before the violence. Picture: Supplied

Geraldine Bilston says she misses the person she was before the violence. Picture: Supplied

There are so many compelling moments in, There’s No Place Like Home.

For Geraldine Bilston, she misses the person she was before the violence. It changed her in ways that she will never get back. Hearing from her as she heals from what was done to her was both heartbreaking and uplifting.

For Khadija, it’s the resilience that she embodies. Her life experiences cover multiple forms of abuse and the way she addresses issues such as racism, inequality and navigating a sense of belonging in the world is inspiring.

For Jex, it’s about the complicated nature of how our society understands gender diversity and how abuse in LGBTQ+ relationships share similarities but have important differences with other relationships.

It is rare for us to be able to hear directly, in an unfiltered way from victim-survivors, and many moments stick out in my mind from the series.

What solutions and hope for the future did you find?

That we can all be part of the solution to ending domestic abuse and family violence. Sometimes, hearing only the statistics we can be confronted with a sense of helplessness or hopelessness and we may be inclined to think, ‘How can we possibly change this?’

But in There’s No Place Like Home, victim-survivors share firsthand what they have been through and how it could have been prevented. We also hear from experts about the range of ways that domestic abuse and family violence can be responded to, but also prevented from occurring in the first place. This gives me a sense of hope about the future and how we can all be part of the solution to eradicating this violence. 

Is there anything else you want to say?

Hosting this podcast was a privilege. My sister Nikita was murdered in 2015, and I often had her words of encouragement in the back of my mind when I was trying to do right by victim survivors to share their life experiences and their story in the way that they wanted it to be told. Victim-survivors don’t owe us anything and I feel tremendously grateful and privileged to have shared a space with them as they speak out about some of the worst things imaginable, yet with hope that things will change for future generations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ginger Gorman is a fearless and multi award-winning social justice journalist and feminist. Ginger’s bestselling book, Troll Hunting, came out in 2019. Since then, she’s been in demand both nationally and globally as an expert on cyberhate and the real-life harm predator trolling can do. She's also the editor of BroadAgenda and gender editor at HerCanberra. Ginger hosts the popular "Seriously Social" podcast for the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia. Follow her on Twitter.

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