Listen: Ray Martin talks to Katrina Roe about domestic violence, including his own childhood experiences.
Every time another Australian bravely shares their dark secret about surviving domestic violence, the community grows a little more aware and resilient.
In 2015 Rosie Batty created a groundswell of concern when she became Australian of the Year for her anti-violence work, having lost her own son to domestic violence. And in 2016, rock legend Jimmy Barnes went public with his own childhood secrets, in his book Working Class Boy.
Now Ray Martin has taken up the baton, sharing his story on a TV special looking at domestic violence called Dark Secrets: Australia’s Hidden Shame.
The TV personality told Hope 103.2’s Katrina Roe that he watched his father beat his mother and they fled the home when he was 11. “I never saw him again,” he recalls.
While there are support systems in place today, his mother was very much on her own at the time when she became a single mum.
Attitudes Towards Domestic Violence are Changing
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The good news about domestic violence is that attitudes are changing, says Ray.
“The police and authorities and the women’s groups and men’s groups have realised that it is the most common violent crime in Australia and we have to change it,” he said. “The police of NSW have been given an extra $60 million to tackle domestic violence. They’re targeting perpetrators and are simply saying ‘it’s a crime, we’re going to put you in jail’.”
He believes that even terminology needs to change to continue shifting attitudes.
“Domestic violence sounds like something soft,” he said, “but more than one woman a week is killed in Australia by someone who professes to love them. That’s apart from all those who are bashed and end up in hospital, and all the kids who see terrible home lives and are intimidated and scarred forever by it. We have to change it.”
Emotional and Verbal Abuse is Still Abuse
Abuse is not always physical, something that’s explored in Dark Secrets. One of the women interviewed is a university-educated geologist, who fled with her two children because of emotional abuse.
“She’s a Christian woman and she was anxious that she had to try and make the marriage work…”
“She’s a pretty, intelligent, strong woman, who’d been never physically violated but verbally and emotionally violated for two years, and suddenly found she was losing her personality,” he describes.
“She’s a Christian woman and she was anxious that she had to try and make the marriage work and not be another divorce statistic, but she found that she was no longer smiling and she couldn’t go and have a cup of coffee with a couple of girlfriends without her husband tracking her [location].
“It isn’t just physical. It’s also emotional and verbal.”
Report if You Hear Something
As part of his campaign to change attitudes, Ray encourages anyone who hears of violence to call the police.
“If you hear it going on next door to you and the woman’s life is threatened then don’t just let it happen,” he said. “Ring the police. They will come and knock on the door and make sure the woman’s safe and let the bloke know that they’re now watching him.”