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It’s Time For Victim Survivors Of Violence To Be Heard

PRIMER’s new gendered violence journalist Jess Hill on why this subject matters.

By Jess Hill

Stay in the shadows: that’s what victim survivors have known to do for centuries. To carry their burden quietly. To be passive in the face of degradation and violence. To shoulder the blame, to accept their diagnosis; to just keep bloody quiet so we can persist with fictions like ‘the family is a haven’ and ‘our community won’t tolerate abuse’.

But we are living in a different age. Victim survivors are coming up from underground, demanding we hear the truth, and refusing to be silenced.

I have reported exclusively on gendered violence for the better part of a decade, collaborating with people around Australia to help them tell their stories and share their expertise. And yet, there is still so much I haven’t written about. On this phenomenon – one that directly impacts at least four million Australians, and indirectly impacts millions more – there is always more to say. More stories to tell. More to uncover. Another opportunity to put language to an experience that can seem unspeakable.

We’re soon to find out if Australia will elect a new government, keep the current one, or find itself with something in-between – a hung parliament with independents holding the balance of power.

Thanks to the bravery of many victim survivors and the persistence of a few excellent reporters and some committed activists, gendered violence has become – for the first time – a prominent issue at the level of federal politics, and in the eyes of many voters. We have record numbers of female independents running for government – a great experiment that may, if it succeeds, alter the course of federal politics.

How we respond to the titanic problem of gendered violence is central to how we confront the major challenges of the 21st century. It’s a privilege to be PRIMER’s gendered violence reporter for the coming year, and I’m especially grateful to Meta and the Walkley Foundation for funding this position.

If you have a story you want to share, or something you think needs to be reported on, please email me on jess@primer.com.au, or for secure and encrypted communication, jesshilloz@protonmail or Signal +61 405 184 240.

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BY Jess Hill

Jess is an award-winning investigative journalist whose book about gendered abuse, 'See What You Made Me Do', won the Stella Prize in 2020.

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