THE public will be taught how to support victims of domestic violence at `Safe Bystander Action’ workshops tomorrow.

The two-hour workshops at Murray Bridge aim to give people a broad understanding of DV, encourage them to look for and be aware of signs a woman or child is at risk, and teach them how to safely respond to victims.

Organised by Soroptimist and the Murray Bridge Regional Collaboration on Violence Against Women and Children (MBRCVAWC), an evening public forum – There’s Always Hope – will follow the workshops.

MBRCVAWC chairperson Desi Alexandridis said the events would engage the Murraylands and wider community in the protection of women and the prevention of DV.

“We can’t do it by ourselves,’’ said Desi, Senior Manager of Centacare’s Domestic Violence and Homelessness Services.

“As service providers, we see the women when the violence is entrenched, but friends and family would probably have an inkling way before then.’’

Workshop participants will be taught to recognise the:

  • Dynamics of DV
  • Cycles of abuse
  • Queues a child or person may be in trouble
  • The five steps of intervening: taking notice of an event, recognising there’s a problem, taking responsibility for acting and deciding how, and if, to safely respond.

“Even if they decide not to act, they can be supportive through validating a victim’s story, telling them it’s not their fault and listening and respecting them,’’ Desi said

Practical aspects of being a bystander include:

  • Making a choice about accepting or ignoring inappropriate comments in social settings, such as on the sporting field
  • Motivating young men to build healthy relationships
  • Being positive role models
  • Speaking out against the abuse of women and children

“We are not asking people to physically intervene and stop a domestic violence incident,’’ Desi said.

“We are saying to them, this is how you can help: by listening to a friend, believing their story, supporting and not blaming them and, if they haven’t already thought of it, talking to them about safety plans.

“Saying to them, `the kids can run to us if something is happening or you can come to us if you feel unsafe’.’’

The `Safe Bystander Action’ workshops will be held at Murray Bridge RSL, 2 Ross Rd, Murray Bridge from 10am to midday and 1pm to 3pm. Facilitator: Desi Alexandridis, Senior Manager of Centacare Catholic Family Service’s Domestic Violence and Homelessness Services. Entry is free. Light refreshments available. For more information phone 8539 1175.

There’s Always Hope, a spotlight forum on domestic violence, will follow at Murray Bridge Town Hall, Bridge St, Murray Bridge from 6.15pm to 8.30pm. Keynote speakers include: Professor Sarah Wendt, who will talk about the experiences of regional victims of DV; and, Adrian Pederick MP, who will discuss the Social Development Committee’s Inquiry into Domestic and Family Violence, released earlier this month. Entry is free. Light refreshments provided. For more information, phone 0411 306 878.

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