Domestic violence will inevitably continue to be a reality in a society which appears to value the contribution of men more than that of women, according to anti-domestic violence campaigner Elaine Compagno.
Compagno is a co-founder of the SOAR service within the St Jeanne Antide Foundation, a user-led service seeking to help women survivors of domestic violence recover and bounce back. She is herself a survivor of domestic violence.
Speaking on Andrew Azzopardi on 103, Compagno highlighted long-standing beliefs that men should be in control and women should be caregivers, and said that children were still being raised with such attitudes.
“If we fail to open our minds and change ourselves, these attitudes and beliefs will persist in future generations and violence will continue to happen,” she said. Women are disproportionately the victims of domestic violence, and Compagno highlighted that this happened because on the whole, they were worse off than men.
Azzopardi questioned whether schools and the media were still contributing to this at this age, and Compagno said that regrettably, they still did. She argued that much of society was reinforcing these beliefs without even realising it and that while women were expected to prioritise their families over their career, men faced no such obstacles.
‘I feared staying more than I feared leaving’
Compagno also spoke on her own past experience, with Azzopardi asking what had proved to be the turning point.
She highlighted that leaving was not an easy task for domestic violence survivors, recounting how she had to think about what work she could find, where to live and many other considerations.
But she observed that in an atmosphere of control and intimidation, she began to question what prospects her children faced if they continued to grow up in such an environment, stating that they were a key reason why she decided to leave.
However, she added, “I also came to a moment when I feared staying in the relationship more than I feared leaving it.” In spite of all the considerations that needed to be made, the prospect of staying on had become increasingly terrifying.