This week my surfboard attacked me. Somehow it and I got all tangled up in a shallow section of the wave and it slammed me in the side of the head hard enough to split underneath my eye and cause a huge amount of swelling. It was a bit traumatic sitting on my board watching the blood gush into the water. It was a bit sad that no-one offered any help as I did the long walk back to Main Beach with blood pouring down the front of my wetsuit. But the most devastating part has been observing the reactions of others since I got dried off and glued up. Before I complain further, thanks by the way to the Noosa Surf Life Saver who gave me emergency first aid and my doctor who squeezed me straight into his busy day. Legends!
Nevertheless, I now have a good shiner plus tape under one eye. Yesterday I hit a couple of swanky shops in Hasting Street. It was really hard to get served. Even more difficult to get someone to be civil to me or to make eye contact. I started to feel disturbed. I realised that people viewed me as having been involved in domestic violence. Today I observed the reactions of others again. I started to feel outraged. More of the same treatment from the majority of people in a whole variety of venues.
What if I had indeed been given this injury by my husband? It’s not so rare. In fact 8 out of 10 women who are murdered each year in Australia are murdered by their husbands. Right this minute there are thousands of women being assaulted by the people who are supposed to love them most. So where is the support? Why was I being treated as an outcast rather than someone who could do with some understanding, assistance and TLC? It really brought it home to me that domestic violence is still so unspoken despite its prevalence.
I believe that we need to get the stats and the nature of the beast out in public. Don’t shy away from it-do something about it. Call the police if you hear an assault happening in your neighbourhood. Ask someone if you can help them if you see them struggling or being victimised. Get yourself or your friends help if you need it. There are many brilliant websites and organisations around, just google them or I like http://www.dvrcv.org.au/ plus the government has a 24 hour hotline on 1800 811 811.
Finally, I think that we also need to have a look at how we judge people. When I lost my front teeth in a car accident, I was shocked at how badly people treated me. Complete disdain would be two words for it. Similarly, the same accident caused me to spend many months being pushed around in a wheelchair. I found that people often spoke to me in a really, really slow and patronizing manner and I must confess that I often felt like punching them. I completely admire the grit of people who deal with obvious scars, injuries and disabilities on a daily basis. Come on people let’s be a bit kinder and more respectful and compassionate with one another! Start right now by finding some kindness in your heart for someone who you yesterday you might have felt like putting down. The person who benefits most will be you.