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Featured Leader: Rach Mac on Empowering Survivors of Domestic Violence through Strategic Approaches

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Domestic Violence

Within the sphere of supporting individuals affected by domestic and family violence, the Broken Crayons Still Colour Foundation emerges as a symbol of resilience and empowerment.  

Founded and directed by Rach Mac, a real-life survivor, this foundation echoes the narratives of both men and women who have navigated the harrowing terrain of domestic and family violence. 

Driven by her personal odyssey, spearheads a foundation that not only acknowledges the brokenness but also celebrates the strength and tenacity found in the midst of adversity. 

Third Sector News interviewed Mac regarding approaches aimed at empowering survivors of domestic violence through education, empathy, and the implementation of zero-tolerance policies, all designed to eradicate victim-blaming attitudes. 

1. How could having women with personal experiences at police stations improve responses to domestic violence victims? 

Having lived experience with women working in police units/stations I believe is crucial for a number of reasons firstly, we have lived the horrors of FDV we know signs of a silent victim and many victims are afraid of repercussions if they disclose to police the abuse it is my opinion and experience victims feel more safe and open having discussions about their abuse to survivors. This will increase reporting and a prevention measure that should be utilised 

Signs of a silent victim I know these well because I displayed the same signs. Covering up with clothing in the middle of summer wearing long-sleeved shirts and trousers heavy makeup to disguise bruising and scars is just one of many signs. 

Experienced survivors who work in the sector know all of the signs. 

Thirdly police officers themselves not just new recruits need hands-on training. Who is better skilled and armed with the knowledge to train these police officers by working alongside of them than lived experienced survivors? 

2. How might providing extra resources to agencies help them better address domestic violence cases on the ground? 

Extra resources are crucial to those working on the ground daily with victims of domestic violence Broken Crayon’s Still Colour Foundation is the only organisation in the nation that provides emergency relocations where we physically go to the victims and relocate them out of harm’s way. 

We currently have two safe haven accommodations and we are working towards our third accommodation hands down is vital so victims have a safe place to heal and plan their future free from abuse. 

Resources are needed to save lives prevent further harm prevent homelessness and prevent child removal it’s not rocket science I repeat it’s crucial and I’d like to mention that BCSCF receive no government funding whatsoever we raise all our own resources we have had some phenomenal achievements a new emergency relocation vehicle a safe haven counselling and education space a massive warehouse to house our donated furniture and items and two safe haven accommodations we have achieved this on our own in three years imagine what we could achieve if we were given funding. 

3. What are your thoughts on educating high school students about healthy relationships? Can this initiative help prevent domestic violence? 

Education is the key our youths need to be educated on what a healthy relationship looks like and what is not excused or acceptable. Our youths also need to be educated on accountability and holding others accountable for poor behaviour. 

Youths also need to know how to report abuse safely free from judgement and consequences and I truly believe 100% this should be taught only by survivors.  

4. What strategies do you think work best to enforce a zero-tolerance policy, eliminate victim blaming, and organise resources effectively to prevent domestic violence and support victims? 

Employers should be terminating staff who are perpetrators of FDV. Behavioural change programs should be enforced on convicted perpetrators of FDV. 

Schools all schools need to implement education programs for their students and FDV training for their staff (this should be compulsory). There is a great need that our community needs to be trauma-informed. 

The judicial system needs a complete overhaul of its prehistoric judicial system. Stop with the lenient sentences if a perpetrator breaches VRO they are instantly considered a repeat offender and treated accordingly. 

Victim blaming is nothing more than harsh judgement it needs to stop instantly. There is No Excuse for family domestic violence NONE.  

And the insulting questions “Why didn’t she just leave?”, “Why didn’t the abuser stop abusing?” I used to find this question incredibly insulting. However, now I use it as a platform to educate for example when a victim makes the decision to leave the victim is at most risk of being killed or critically injured because the abuser is losing control and abusers thrive on control. 

Asking why didn’t you just leave is the most uneducated question you could ever ask a victim there are numerous reasons many of us don’t leave. 

  • Threats to kill 
  • Threats to harm the children and pets  
  • Threats to commit suicide  
  • No financial control  
  • Nowhere go to  
  • No support  

Not to mention many of us loved our abusers we are trauma-bonded and that doesn’t just magically stop. 

So if anyone is going to ask insulting uneducated questions I can promise you I will give a very educated direct answer. 

Resources need to be distributed fairly I don’t feel it’s beneficial to give the same organisations funding it needs to be shared, Many organisations are doing some amazing work in this space and they need a cut of the resources to show the community and more importantly victims exactly what they can do Broken Crayon’s Still Colour Foundation is a great example of this as I explained previously we provide a service that no other organisation in the country provides it’s common sense we should be provided funding for emergency relocations and not to mention to secure more safe havens. 

What I think is extremely important to highlight is survivors have incredible knowledge and resilience and much to offer in the family domestic violence sector. Whilst many politicians have good intentions and are passionate they simply do not have the lived experience to be able to save lives.

Good intentions do not save lives, knowledge skills and resources do. 

Rach Mac will be speaking at Third Sector’s National Family Safety Summit. Industry experts, policymakers, advocates, and community members, who are committed to creating a safer environment for families nationwide, will come together to explore strategies for building a safer and more compassionate community. Register now.   

The essence of resilience stemming from fractured encounters is embodied by the Broken Crayons Still Colour Foundation, urging the community to contribute donations in support of advancing their mission. 

Related: Featured Leader: Asha Bhat on Cultivating a Culture of Respect as a Preventive Measure Against Family Violence

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Menchie Khairuddin is a writer Deputy Content Manager at Akolade and content producer for Third Sector News. She is passionate about social affairs specifically in mixed, multicultural heritage and not-for-profit organisations.

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