Editorial: Why domestic violence is our community's most urgent issue

Ray Martin has enjoyed a remarkable career on television.

From celebrity interviews to the September 11 terrorist atrocities, Martin has always been poised, professional and probing in more than 50 years on our screens.

He struck a chord last year in his special on the ice epidemic in regional Australia but few causes have been as deeply personal as the project that most recently brought him to this part of the world.

In the Riverina to speak with Rosie Batty as part of an upcoming Prime7 doco, Dark Secrets: Australia’s Hidden Shame, Martin laid bare his soul to reveal his own dark secret – a childhood scarred by domestic violence.

Born Raymond George Grace, his mother was forced to change the family’s surname as they fled from her abusive, alcoholic husband.

How the horrors of family violence shaped a young Martin’s mind is hard to know.

Even decades on, it is clearly still a painful story for him to recount.

But it’s important he does. 

It’s important we all confront the issue because memories of domestic violence should not be confined to the cloistered corners of people’s minds.

And victims should not feel a sense of shame. The fact we, as a community, have been wilfully blind to it for so long should be the real source of shame.

The only way we can make up for that is by having a robust communal conversation about domestic violence and condemn it at every turn.

That conversation must be led by men, who are overwhelmingly the main perpetrators of violence in the home.

To suggest otherwise is dangerous obfuscation.

Some men must learn to speak more openly about their emotional pain.

Too many bottle it up and risk it surfacing in the form of a violent outburst towards loved ones.

And all men must learn to speak out against family violence, especially among each other.

Much like there’s been a cultural shift among men in relation to the “coward punch”, there must be around domestic violence.

There is no more urgent challenge confronting us as a community.

Only by confronting the monster can we hope to slay it.