Eight years ago, I witnessed the unique challenges and oppression that my friends and acquaintances in Australia faced as victims and survivors of domestic violence. Six months ago, we began drawing our map of how to expand internationally. In taking this step, we needed to decide where to start. As a sister country to the United States of America and home to many friends and loved ones, we became determined to expand our BTSADV family. We recognized a need to reach more survivor sisters, brothers, and angel families.
We knew that expanding our BTSADV family would be a daunting task without a passionate and connected individual to lead our physical presence in Australia. Our vision became a reality when Karen Saunders, a Survivor Sister and current BTSADV volunteer, joined our family and became the Community Manager of our Survivor Sisters Australia online support group. Therefore, officially making Australia our first international chapter.
In this past week, we watched as Facebook battled with the Australian government and blocked Australian citizens from accessing news and support organization pages, silencing and re-victimizing survivors and victims in need. Facebook is a valuable resource for many because its online community serves as an easily accessible option to find help and support for domestic violence.
In blocking these resources, Facebook cut a lifeline to Australians’ limited resources, highlighting the urgent need to develop more robust public policies and resources to reduce the large-scale impact of domestic violence. Despite temporarily pausing this ongoing tug of war, we know the battle is far from over and could happen again, leaving many in the same position they faced.
We know the battle victims and survivors face in Australia goes beyond social media. We are expanding our efforts to provide our programs and resources to our growing family in Australia. We will work to bridge the existing gaps in services for Australian domestic violence survivors and angel families.
We’re bringing together our BTSADV Australia family to help establish better avenues of advocacy and support. We recognize your needs and hear you. You are not alone in this fight.
Australia, it’s time to Break Your Silence.
Your Survivor Sister,
Executive Director BTSADV