Posts Tagged ‘domestic violence’

I’m pleased to announce I’ll be on Ann Creber’s The Good Life, this Monday May 15th, 4-5pm  in conversation with sex therapist and men’s rights movement supporter Bettina Arndt on the topic of controversial documentary The Red Pill and domestic violence.

Bettina takes a very different view of domestic violence to me. We both acknowledge the problem, but with very different takes on the perpetrators and victims, and the statistics. See http://www.bettinaarndt.com.au/news/2479/

My experience of domestic violence, both as a child and as an adult, along with my stays in three women’s shelters, has provided me with first hand experience of this very ugly side of human nature. Here’s one story I wrote, ‘The Refuge,’ first published in American literary magazine Mused, and later in my short story collection, All Because of You.

Although I have also experienced workplace bullying from female perpetrators. https://open.abc.net.au/explore/82764

I won’t deny that both men and women can be abusive. It’s just that men have a greater capacity for domestic terror than women. They tend to be bigger, stronger and more likely to feel a sense of entitlement when it comes to exerting their power over others.

I’m about to start giving creative writing workshops for women survivors of domestic violence. Each participant will be writing a short story, to add to an anthology of survival stories.

All in all, the combination of views should make for a lively and interesting chat!

Tune in to 3MDR 3-5pm Monday 15th May for The Good Life – http://www.3mdr.com/
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When musical duo Savannah Rose invited me to speak at their RESPECT show I was honoured and baffled all at once. What would I talk about?

With their smooth and dulcet harmonies, Suzanne Diprose and Bree Cleal sing dark and old-school country. Their awareness-raising show depicts how women are portrayed in song lyrics. They are joined by Moonshine Coalition, Heidi & Jules, and The Borrowed Boys. I needed to fit into all that and I don’t have a country bone in my body.

But I am a story teller. I’ve led a rich and interesting life. So I decided to write a five-minute memoir. My life, through the lens of song lyrics.

I’ve a tiny part in a grand event filled with fun and games and lots of laughter. The show packs a punch too. The message is strong. Especially for songwriters!

Officially endorsed by White Ribbon Australia. 

The RESPECT show’s next date is at Emerald’s Pave Festival, Thursday 6th April 2017 @ 7.30-9.30pm. $12 entry ($10 conc).

I’m donating 20% of all book sales to White Ribbon Australia to help raise awareness about domestic violence.

 

 

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All Because of You: Eleven tales of refuge and hope received this awesome badge last month!

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“Throughout the collection, Blackthorn utilizes rich descriptions and language to portray vivid images of the women and their lives, both the ones they are living now and the ones that they had escaped…a powerful collection of stories that hits you hard, leaving you contemplating the good and bad of life and looking forward to the future.”

https://readersfavorite.com/book-review/all-because-of-you/1

You can buy from Amazon and all good bookstores.

I’m honoured to have been given the opportunity to perform one of my short stories in support of Knox PLEDGE for gender equality.

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The high tea serves to launch a series of creative writing workshops I’ll be giving next year for survivors of family violence.

Storytelling is one of the most powerful mediums we have to convey our truths. I’ve laid to rest many inner demons that way. The short story form lends itself to autobiographical reflections. Above all, the effort of writing our truth in a form fit for other’s eyes leads to personal transformation and empowerment.

2017 is set to be an extraordinary year!

 

It’s been a hectic month of moving house and in amongst it all Odyssey Books re-released my short story collection All Because of You: Eleven tales of refuge and hope. 

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It’s an eclectic collection and they’re mostly semi-autobiographical. Two were written from the point of view of my former partner, the late Alex Legg, who ought to be remembered forever as one of the world’s genius songwriters.

The timing of the release is remarkable. I’ve been invited to run a series of writing workshops for survivors of family violence as part of Knox PLEDGE and to perform one of the stories with my daughter pianist Elizabeth Blackthorn. Details to follow.

I’m indebted to Elizabeth and to Alex for helping me compose and revise each of these stories. And to my publisher Michelle Lovi at Odyssey Books for continuing to believe in my work.

A premise for horror: If domestic violence is a pyramid, with murder at the apex, then beneath that apex exist all manner of violence. From battering, and below that threat of battering, below that tirades of verbal violence, below that… and so it goes.
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Really, it isn’t a pyramid. It just is.
Domestic violence exists when a person is scared (apprehensive) of their partner, of what they might do or say next. Abuse = a misuse or corruption of power or privilege. Doesn’t have to be violent but it always violates.
And of course we all nod and say yes it sucks, but how many of us can spot a perp? How charming, how seductive, how manipulative they are. They may well have their family and friends and neighbours convinced of their perfection.
I know heaps of people who honestly believe that person X is a, ‘really nice guy.’ When I know for a fact that X is a bloody nightmare. I’m not immune either. I may think Y is a really nice guy, until someone whispers in my ear that they are not.
And if you go to a friend or a family member or the police and say, ‘person Z is gonna kill me,’ then you should expect to be believed and action taken.
We live in a world that is dominated by a perversion of the male archetype. Following Jung’s four archetypes of manliness, The King becomes The Tyrant, The Magician becomes The Manipulator, The Warrior becomes a Sadistic Bully, and the Lover becomes the Rapist. (This is a fuller explanation)
Women are not immune. They, too, can and do adopt the perverse male archetype mantle, especially when they walk into positions of power.
For humanity lacks an awareness of power, let alone mastery of it. Therefore we are seduced by power and as it enters us and we welcome in that delicious Uberman sense of it, our awareness is eclipsed and we are from then on addicts.
It all needs to change. So, what’s to be done? Educate. Educate. Educate. Teach Jung. Start in Kindergarten.
We already know how to change things. But inertia and the pull of the status quo hold sway.
Above all, our desire and our capacity for denial hold sway.
Which makes for a damn good premise, for a horror novel.

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There are two faces to Australia’s asylum seeker policy. There is the outward face, all smiles and hooded eyes, that espouses ‘stop the boats’ mantras to indoctrinate the masses. We are to be persuaded of the necessity for harsh, inhumane treatment of asylum seekers journeying by boat. We are to disregard these peoples’ basic human rights and apportion blame for all their suffering on the shoulders of the smugglers. We are thus exonerated from guilt. We need look no further, for our government is right, opportunism is to be condemned. It is only us who gets a fair go.

The outward face is a veil, a mask. It has been constructed to hide what lies within.

The inward face wears a bland expression. Eyes stare in blank denial, mouth set firm. This is the face of systematic brutality, a daily occurrence in detention centres both on and off shore. Not a day goes by without advocates passing on testimony of the violations of normal respect and decency, and of the systematic cruelty, degradation and psychological torture. Not a day goes by bereft of the despair of those incarcerated and their supporters. It makes for harrowing reading. Through these reports, and through such books as Antony Loewenstein’s Profits of Doom I have come to understand the cool, calculated methods used by corporations (Serco, G4S, Transfield) running these ‘facilities,’ the clinical way they go about their business, all manner of unspeakable decisions justified by the profit bottom line. Bloodsucking corporations filled with a cohort of Adolf Eichmanns.

For there is but a whisker of difference between the orders that are issued, and the manner in which they are carried out, in detention centres and in the Holocaust camps.

“I go down to the jetty, where several dozen DIAC, Serco, police and Customs officials, as well as interpreters and ambulance staff, await the arrival of the refugees. A number of CI residents and tourists are there too, and are mostly middle-aged or older. The ones I talk to all express opposition to refugees. They are “illegals” who might come and “take over”, like “what’s happening in parts of Europe”. One person says, “They should be pushed back to Indonesia, where they will be safe. Why are they coming to Australia? What if terrorists are on the boats? We have poverty here and people living in bad conditions on CI, but they come and are treated better than Australians”. I mention Serco and ask whether anyone cares that a private company is making money from greater numbers of refugee arrivals. One older man says he feels uncomfortable about it, while a tourist isn’t aware of the fact.”- Profits of Doom
“Curtin is surrounded by scrubby desert as far as the eye can see. I can’t imagine a more isolated place to be detained. Demountables are scattered beside the road near the car park and high barbed-wire fences surround the detention compound. We can see new houses being constructed nearby, and a freshly laid concrete pathway leads to the main entrance. The last years have seen the construction at the centre of gymnasiums, religious rooms and classrooms…Serco posters and signs advertising the company are ubiquitous in the reception area. They display the smiling faces of happy staff and multicultural imagery that includes a Muslim imam. A colour brochure emblazoned with four grinning faces from various racial backgrounds sits on a small table near some lockers.‘Bringing service to life’ is the company’s motto. The pamphlet says that Serco ‘promotes the inherent dignity of people in detention in line with the Australian government’s new immigration detention values’. A number of other pieces of Serco literature are scattered around reception. ‘Visitor Conditions of Entry’ states that there are three visiting periods every day, including between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., but also says that arrival after 5 p.m. will not be permitted. There are dozens of rules and regulations on the sheet, including: ‘Respect the privacy and dignity of all people in the centre’. It’s a noble goal, but one that staff routinely breach, detainees later tell me.” Profits of Doom
“….We unloaded the motor. It was a heavy Russian benzine engine, at least 200 horsepower. we installed the engine on a concrete foundation and set up the connection between the exhaust and the tube. I then tested the motor. It did not work. I was able to repair the ignition and the valves, and the motor finally started running. The chemist, who I knew from Belzec, entered the gas chamber with measuring instruments to test the concentration of the gas. Following this, a gassing experiment was carried out. If my memory serves me right, about thirty to forty women were gassed in one gas chamber. The Jewish women were forced to undress in an open place close to the gas chamber, and were driven into the gas chamber by the above mentioned SS members and the Ukrainian auxiliaries. when the women were shut up in the gas chamber I and Bolender set the motor in motion. The motor functioned first in neutral. Both of us stood by the motor and switched from “Neutral” (Freiauspuff) to “Cell” (Zelle), so that the gas was conveyed to the chamber. At the suggestion of the chemist, I fixed the motor on a definite speed so that it was unnecessary henceforth to press on the gas. About ten minutes later the thirty to forty women were dead.” – Testimony of SS Scharfuhrer Erich Fuchs, in the Sobibor-Bolender trial, Dusseldorf 
“Before the Jews undressed, Oberscharfuehrer Michel made a speech to them. On these occasions, he used to wear a white coat to give the impression that he was a physician. Michel announced to the Jews that they would be sent to work, but before this they would have to take baths and undergo disinfection so as to prevent the spread of diseases… After undressing, the Jews were taken through the so-called Schlauch. They were led to the gas chambers not by the Germans but by the Ukrainians…After the Jews entered the gas chambers, the Ukrainians closed the doors. The motor which supplied the gas was switched on by a Ukrainian named Emil and by a German driver called Erich Bauer from Berlin. After the gassing, the door were opened and the corpses removed….” Testimony of SS-Oberscharfuehrer Kurt Bolender, In the Belzec-Oberhauser trial

The inward face is ugly. It portrays the clinical indifference of the psychopath. There is no empathy and no conscience in the eyes. It is as if we are witnessing the emergence of a plethora of death camps, a many headed Hydra, one that has learned from past mistakes and chosen psychological over physical death of inmates as the path of preference. There is profit, as long as they stay alive.

And a sort of psychological death is the reality especially for children and long-term detainees who must suffer the ordinary mundane tortures of life on Nauru, Manus or Christmas Island, or Curtin, Villawood or any other gulag. Such tortures do not extract blood, do not cause extreme physical pain. Instead, the methods are not dissimilar to those enacted by a perpetrator of domestic violence. They are designed to drive a person mad.

Isobel Blackthorn’s first novel, ASYLUM, has been released in paperback by Odyssey Books. Also available in ebook formats @ Amazon, ibooks, Smashwords. Links can be found on the ASYLUM page.