WARNING: This piece contains sensitive material that will talk about domestic and sexual violence. This content may be triggering and we advise you to proceed with caution and seek the appropriate support if in need - we are always here to help.
It’s October 2018. For some, it’s that time of year where silly festivities like Halloween are on the agenda - where for many wom*n and men our costume options range from slutty teacher to even sluttier Alice from Alice in Wonderland or a very antiquated concept of masculinity and femininity. Never the less, some of us wear these costumes like a badge of honour while others dress in their own unique creations & get on with the fun.
For others, and I speak for wom*n in particular, Halloween is another day of the year where wearing “slutty” costumes places us at ‘risk’. We know that we should be more careful about what WE choose to wear, as to not give the wrong impression to others. It doesn’t matter if we’re scantily clad or look like Pennywise from It, WE have to be careful! ‘Cause apparently abusing one’s consent and not having control over one’s actions is ultimately OUR problem and WE must take up the responsibility of avoiding any confusion or conflict.
Now, I really do hope that if you read the above paragraph and thought it wasn’t sarcasm, that you go back and deeply think about how dangerous that kind of perspective can be and how important it is to educate yourself on the matter. Especially, when only last week, a 14 year old girl from Windale, was walking home from school when suddenly she was approached by an armed man who then proceeded to drag her into a bush and sexually assault her. Her ‘costume’ was a school uniform.
Sadly, this kind of story isn’t the only one of it’s kind and it most likely won’t be the last.
In fact, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2018), 1 in 5 wom*n have been sexually assaulted and/or threatened from as early as the age of 15. On average, one wom*n a week is murdered by her current or former partner and domestic/family violence is one of the leading causes of homelessness for wom*n and children in Australia.
For many wom*n this is a fear that has been ingrained into us from as early as childhood - ‘cause yes, being a teenager is also still considered a child. The statistics of sexual and domestic violence against wom*n in Australia (and globally) reveals astronomical figures of abuse, not to mention the many unreported cases that occur on a day-to-day basis. It is an alarming issue in our society and I encourage you all to take a moment after you read this to look at any of the resources below to get just an idea of how big this problem is.
Reclaiming The Night
Thankfully, there are many incredible initiatives, support groups and some (still not enough) government funding to help report, support and build safe spaces for victims of sexual and domestic violence - a couple of which will be sourced below.
One of these incredible initiatives is Reclaim The Night, a global annual march that occurs on the last Friday of October, for people to protest in solidarity with the aim of putting a stop to sexual and domestic violence against wom*n and their children and claim one’s freedom again.
One of the very first ‘Reclaim The Night’ marches recorded in history occurred back in the late 1970’s, when some fiery wom*n demanded that the night life of Leeds (UK) not just be for the men, as a curfew for wom*n had been put in place in response to the Yorkshire Ripper murders. The 'Reclaim the Night’ protest was one of the many ways wom*n began to claim their freedom and hold the men in their lives accountable for their actions too. This later went on to include protests against rape and violence, as staggering numbers of victims came forward with pleas to end the abuse.
Since then, many wom*n from all around the world have marched with their peers to protest for freedom against sexual and domestic violence, with our very own community in Newcastle hosting the march every year. The first march recorded in Australia happened in 1978 - 40 years ago.
This year the march will take place on Friday 26th of October, starting at the Newcastle Maritime Museum on Honeysuckle’s foreshore, where they will then march on to the front of Customs House. The event will start at 5:00pm - 8:00pm, and will include a range of empowering speeches, live music performances as well as market stalls. Check out the Facebook event link here to click attending!
There will also be another march happening at 6:00pm in Warners Bay, where there will be family friendly live entertainment and a BBQ, where men, wom*n and their children are invited to march.
If you want to stand in solidarity with wom*n against domestic and sexual violence, make your way to the Honeysuckle foreshore or Warners Bay Rotunda on The Esplanade on Friday and reclaim the night! Get your NASTY banners ready!
Newcastle ‘Reclaim The Night’ March
Time: 5:00pm - 8:00pm
Where: Starting at the Newcastle Maritime Museum & ending at Customs House
Please note that this march is hosted exclusively by and for wom*n - only wom*n and their children can march on Beaumont St. Men are welcomed to join in solidarity at Customs House where there will be live entertainment, speeches & more.
Lake Macquarie ‘Reclaim The Night’ March
Time: 6:00pm - 8:00pm
Where: Starting at Warners Bay Rotunda, marching along the Esplanade
Please note that unlike the Newcastle march, wom*n, men and children are invited and encouraged to march and attend the Reclaim The Night event.
Define - Wom*n: is a noun that is inclusive of cis-gender women, trans, non-binary and gender diverse people.
* All images, unless stated, have been taken from Reclaim the Night Newcastle’s Facebook page with permission from Colleen Mullins (Chairperson - Newcastle DV Committee)
Educational Resources & Support Services:
Local Support Services (Newcastle/Hunter Region)
Hunter Women’s Centre (HWC)
National Support Services
1800RESPECT - Domestic Violence Helpline & Website
Bravehearts - provides specialist therapeutic services and support to children and young people, adults and non-offending family members affected by child sexual assault
Better to Know AMS - Local Aboriginal & Torres-Strait Islander medical and health services
The list of support services and information on sexual abuse & domestic violence is abundant. What you see above is a great place to start, but there are many resources available to you - always remain informed & know you aren’t alone and that help is out there.
If this article has been a trigger for you or if you just need some help or someone to talk to: Crisis support services can be reached 24 hours a day: Lifeline 13 11 14; Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467; Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800; Domestic Violence Line: 1800 656 463