Sunday, November 25, 2012

The reality of domestic abuse. Part 3- Interview

To finish up my 3 part blog series on the reality of domestic abuse I was lucky enough to get to interview Chris Allen, Author and White Ribbon Day ambassador.

Hope you all enjoy :)


-Can you introduce yourself without using the term "I" ;) 

Chris was born and raised in Perth, Western Australia, the son of a Welsh father and an Australian mother. He is the middle child of five, with two older sisters and two younger brothers. His career to date has been predominantly military and law enforcement. Most recently he has been focused on his emerging career as a writer of thrillers. His married Sarah in 2008. They live in Sydney and have two young sons, Morgan and Rhett.

-What made you want to get involved with White Ribbon Day as an ambassador?

I was lucky enough to be brought up to respect women by default, both by my parents and at school. In fact, I remember being given a book called 'Gentleman Junior' when I first started out at an all boys school in Perth. We learned the basics very early on! It's so important. On top of that I have two older sisters who are both strong willed and confident women. Our home was always busy and my sisters friends were always around. So, I was lucky that my early years gave me a solid foundation in being respectful towards women.  

In my later years I've felt a responsibility to contribute in some way towards ensuring that young men grow up with similar values and that respecting women becomes their default position. I now have two young sons and that responsibility, in my view, has skyrocketed as a result. By becoming a White Ribbon Ambassador, I'm able to provide an example to my sons, both at home and publicly by declaring my commitment, speaking on behalf of White Ribbon and, most importantly, looking after their mum and showing them exactly what it means to respect women every day.    

- Being a former defence member (me too!) You were in a male dominated environment, What do you think is the general consensus of Australian men and their thoughts on violence against women?
Honestly, I believe that the majority of men are fundamentally against any form of violence against women. Sadly, however I believe that the line becomes blurred when totally unacceptable behaviours are popularised within certain pop-culture contexts like movies, reality TV or - closer to home - social settings where drugs and alcohol are a factor.
That said, it's important to note that White Ribbon believes in the goodness of most men. It believes that good men reject violence against women and are willing to act to prevent it. White Ribbon believes in the capacity of the individual to change and to encourage change in others. Hence, the importance that the White Ribbon movement places on men providing the leadership to other men to change. 
- What changes do you think can be made to prevent continuing violence against women? Mindset changes? Legal changes? Etc

Violence against women in Australia is a grave problem.

  • One Australian woman is killed every week by a current or former partner.
  • One in three women over the age of 15 report physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives.
  • One in four young people have witnessed violence against their mother or step-mother.
  • Two thirds of women who experience domestic or family violence are in paid work.
  • Domestic and family violence is the major cause of homelessness for Australian women and their children.
  • According to KPMG, violence against women and their children cost the Australian economy $13.6 billion in 2009 and unless appropriate action is taken to prevent violence, that sum will increase to $15.6 billion per year by 2021.
The White Ribbon campaign focuses its efforts on primary prevention. In other words, it works to change our culture to stop the violence before it occurs, with activities in schools, workplaces and the broader community.  This is exactly what I was saying earlier about getting the message through to young boys in their most formative years.  In the meantime, it's all about awareness, demonstrating a zero tolerance attitude in your daily life and, above all, setting an example to others.

The violence perpetrated by men against women must stop – and it’s up to men to stop it. Good men can not and will not sit on the sidelines while those they love come to harm.
- How can everyone get involved in white ribbon day?
White Ribbon Day should be considered an opportunity to revisit and renew your commitment to stamping out any form of violence against women. For those new to White Ribbon it should be considered the beginning of a lifelong commitment.   Most importantly, White Ribbon Day is much more than just talking about violence against women on one particular day of the year. The Foundation's work is constant and requires ongoing commitment from everybody:

White Ribbon comprises a number of primary prevention programs to engage a broad range of Australians.

The Ambassador Program

White Ribbon Ambassadors are the leaders and faces of White Ribbon, men and boys who have made a commitment to take an active role in ending violence against women. Ambassadors are at the front line of the Campaign; from all walks of life, they are passionate advocates for social change. White Ribbon now has 1900 active Ambassadors promoting the Campaign in the Australian community.

Ambassadors demonstrate this commitment by:

  • wearing a white ribbon or wristband on White Ribbon Day and encouraging others to do the same
  • sharing the White Ribbon message within their networks and through social media
  • highlighting the importance of respect for women and attitudinal change
  • nominating other suitable men as Ambassadors
  • hosting, attending or speaking at awareness-raising and fundraising events
  • encouraging community groups, local councils, workplaces, men’s organisations, sports and services clubs to get involved in the White Ribbon Campaign, and
  • drawing on personal and professional contacts to extend the White Ribbon message.

The Breaking the Silence in Schools Program 

White Ribbon’s Breaking the Silence in Schools Program began in 2009 and is now applied in 90 schools throughout the Sydney region. Due to the program’s success, White Ribbon is now working on expanding this program nationally.

The program works to inspire principals to strengthen the culture of respect in their schools; builds on existing personal development and anti-bullying programs; and provides training and resources to school leadership.

The Workplace Program

Workplaces can play a powerful role in shaping attitudes to women. Violence, whether it occurs in or beyond the work environment, damages the wellbeing of working women and their productivity. It may also impact negatively on the reputation of the organisation and its bottom line.

The White Ribbon Workplace Program supports workplaces in preventing and responding to violence against women. The Program calls upon organisations to take steps to promote safe workplaces by making changes to organisational culture, practices and procedures.

The Program achieves this by:
  • building workplace awareness
  • increasing staff and managerial knowledge and skill to address issues of violence against women, and
  • recognising proactive and innovative steps being taken by workplaces.
Raising awareness

Every year White Ribbon runs an awareness campaign about the issue of violence against women and the role men play in preventing this violence. In 2012, White Ribbon is encouraging men to stand up to violence against women with the knowledge that thousands of good men have got their back.

White Ribbon’s new campaign highlights that men can challenge their mates, and others, in a way that does not endanger their own safety, knowing there are many good men who support their actions. The change starts with good men standing up and letting the perpetrators know that violent attitudes and behaviour towards women are never acceptable in any circumstance. 


Chris Allen is a writer who says that he likes to write escapist action thrillers grounded with a liberal dose of realism.

He is a former paratrooper who served with the Australian, New Zealand and British armies. He retired as a Major when injuries precluded him from further military service. Exiting military life, Chris transitioned into humanitarian aid work during the East Timorese emergency, served with three law enforcement agencies in Australia, protected Sydney’s most iconic landmark in the wake of 9-11 and between 2008 & 2012 was the Sheriff of New South Wales, one of the oldest law enforcement appointments in the land.

Now a full-time writer, Chris is exploring film interest in his stories while he completes a full series of Intrepid action thrillers.

You can find out more about Chris here: 


Monday, November 19, 2012

The reality of domestic abuse. Part two- Factual

Welcome to part two.

I figured that a topic as heavy as this should be broken into a few parts. More so for me than just for you guys. It's a challenging topic to do justice.

When I finally got away from my douchebag ex I was lucky enough to have a supportive family and no permanent ties to him, like children.
Other women faced with this aren't so fortunate.
The belongings we owned together, or that were mine and too big to fit on the trailer were left behind. Anything to avoid further contact or conflict. He had a heathy bank account (as my money was used for day to day expenses as I was paid in cash, taxed cash but cash all the same.) I was left broke and with continuing bills.
Many other women have to face their abuser regularly to hand over their most precious "asset", their children.

This is usually a time of high stress (Understandably) and many times the control and intimidation continues to be directed at them during these hand overs. Many women I know in this situation are terrified they will not get their children back.

Domestic abuse mostly follows a cyclic flow chart.
Sadly the most dangerous time for any woman is when she actually decides to leave. The loss of control sends the abuser into a tailspin and they lash out.

If you or anyone you know is in an abusive relationship and wanting to get out, please, please, please make a plan. Talk to your local police, women's shelters, family anyone but get armed with as much information as you possibly can.

Part 3 of the reality of domestic abuse series will be up shortly.

Much love


Friday, November 9, 2012

A letter to the bride to be.

Dear L.

I wholeheartedly wish I could be here today to see you and D start your married lives together. Unfortunately due to my ever changing circumstances and ever increasing distance away there was no possible way of attending and plans A through to Z were thwarted.
Please know that I will definately be there in thought, probably not far from the drink service area.

A marriage is something very special. Ironically it's something I feel should never be rushed into...with anyone but your one true love. I honestly believe that D is that one person for you. I wish you both amazing love and happiness from this day until eternity and know that many happy and amazing events and milestones await the two of you.

One day in the far off future we can be hobbling along on our Zimmer frames shopping for homey peds talking about about how rich and blessed our lives and marriages have been.

Who knew those two little girls dressing up as princesses in your mums jewellery would both find our prince and our happy endings.

Have a drink for me and know that I love you.

Love Cie.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

High-ish tea. Review.

A few weeks ago I attended a high tea one afternoon with ms mystery case. (ok so more than a few, naughty naughty blogger!)

It was my chance to lose my high tea virginity. As much as I adore all things vintage a high tea opportunity had never presented itself before now.

I met Ms Case at the esplanade hotel in sunny Fremantle, conversing internally with myself on the way that this went against everything I tell my daughter about stranger danger. I need not have worried. Ms Case was an absolute doll! And the fact that she had been so patient with me while I took my sweet ass time to get this blog post to her illustrates that she's even more lovely than first impressions let on.

The room for high tea at the esplanade is bright and the large windows look towards the park and the waters edge. Great views in the sunnier months of the year.

The high tea was very reasonably priced, but as with many things the less you pay the more you forgo.

The items served looked amazing on a less than traditional tower and the creme brûlée mini tea cups were a delight.

I would suggest that high tea at the esplanade would be perfect for novices like me but for those looking for the splendors that the term "high tea" conjures than you probably will be disappointed. Perfect for a 16th birthday party or similar but for those looking for the full ladylike experience best to look elsewhere.

See Ms Mystery Case's blog to see what she's all about!

Much love.


The reality of domestic abuse. Part one- Emotive.

"You know how I get and you just keep pushing me!"

"It must be your fault because nobody else has made me this angry before"

"No body else would ever want you so stop bitching about how I treat you"

"You are revolting! You are lucky to even have me!"

It may sound like another cliche government advertisement but every one of these lines have been thrown at women I know. Strong, educated women who would be a force to be reckoned with should a stranger dare to come between them and their children or families. Sadly enough it's the person they trusted most who harnessed the blame on them. Their partner.

According to "one in three women over the age of 15 will experience physical or sexual violence at some time in their lives" and sadly in Australia "every week one woman is killed by a current or former partner"

Unfortunately I am part of that statistic.
I was physically and sexually abused by a former partner. I was too scared to speak up at the time but ultimately got out of the relationship and am obviously now safe and happily married to someone I know would never even consider treating me so despicably. Unfortunately not every woman in my situation can go to sleep at night knowing that there won't be an issue any bigger than a forgotten phone bill. And it breaks my heart.

As the mother of an amazing little girl the statistics are heart wrenching. If its not my daughter then it's statistically likely that it will be one of her friends. One in three...With those odds watching a group of happy bubbly 5 year olds play at a birthday party takes a dark turn, knowing that two, maybe three of of those darling little angels happily dancing, dressed as fairies will one day be terrified for her wellbeing and possibly for her life.

There was a tv advertisement that was
on regularly while I was pregnant, three little girls in their ballet outfits waiting in the wings to go on stage, dressed in pale pink leotards and tutus, their hair pulled back into slick buns. Innocence embodied...Then it faded out to give the stark statistics rolling across the screen in bold white lettering. One in three girls...
I couldn't watch it.
It would make my blood feel like shards of ice in my veins.
I was once one of those little girls.
I was that one in three.

As strange as it sounds, I'm ok that I was me. I'm not ok that it happened but because it was me, statistically, it may not happen to someone else, someone who wasn't as strong as I was, as strong as I am. Someone who may not have been able to move past it, who couldn't talk about it through it, someone who felt ashamed.
Someone who couldn't use the opportunity to try to educate others.

I was 16 when it first happened. Naive and trusting, not aware of the horrors that the big wide world could hold. Feeling like an adult but in reality still had a lot of growing up to do.
And yet I stayed with him for another 4 years. I believed that I was the cause, an antagonist to his anger.
I got off lightly.
There were no broken bones, no lasting scars, no wounds to act as a reminder.
On the outside at least.
On the inside, on my soul, there was lasting damage that almost 6 years later is still gradually being smoothed into place.
It will never be fixed.
The innocent perfection can never be replicated.
There will always be bumps and dents that no amount of self work can completely hide. Small things can trigger unexpected reactions.
For example Joop aftershave will always make me anxious and want to vomit.
Nothing will take that away.

Sadly it took me quite a long time to finally realise that he was something I should be afraid of.
He wasn't the knight in shining armour that he made himself out to be, he was the dragon and I had swallowed his lies one after another.
It was like the controlling confines of the relationship gave me somewhat of a "safe haven" and it wasn't until I was finally safe and no longer being brainwashed daily that I realised how much of a monster he really is and I was able to debrief myself on the situation.
I wasn't the problem, he was.
I wasn't at fault for his anger, he was.

The realisation that I had in fact been in an abusive relationship the entire time was a bit of a bombshell.
I wasn't until I was filling in a friend about why I left the relationship and I heard myself telling the whole story that it dawned on me.
I wish I had listened earlier.

Part two of this post series will be up tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Much love


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