Domestic Violence: Beyond The Stereotypes (In Memory of Lisa Fenwick) by Ella Whan

Domestic Violence: Beyond The Stereotypes (In Memory of Lisa Fenwick) was written by Ella Whan (Fresher 2022) for Sancta students’ own monthly publication, Sophia’s Laundry (Volume 17, May 2023). 


Content warning: This article discusses domestic violence, reader discretion is advised. 

As some of you may be aware, over the Easter break Sancta lost a much-loved member of our community, Lisa Fenwick, to a fateful act of alleged domestic violence. Unfortunately, Lisa is not alone in the fight against domestic violence. Lisa is the 10th woman to have been allegedly murdered in Australia this year (as of April). These statistics are horrifying and highlight the urgent need for awareness and conversation surrounding healthy relationships within our community.

There are many misconceptions surrounding domestic violence, and often people may not understand what it truly entails. It is a crime that involves manipulation, power imbalances and control. This can often be more than simply physical violence, but also involve financial, emotional and sexual violence. Many people consider domestic violence to be something that happens to people who are already socio-economically disadvantaged within the community. While these individuals are definitely more vulnerable, domestic violence is a crime that does not discriminate. It can occur across all facets of our society, regardless of someone’s background.

Reading about Lisa’s final moments made me feel deeply distressed. Having such an act of violence occur to an alumna of the Sancta community really brought the issue of domestic violence close to home. It shows me the responsibility that we have as a community to bring awareness to this issue, in honour and remembrance of Lisa. Through bringing awareness and reducing the stigma surrounding domestic violence, we can hopefully remove the notion of ‘victim blaming’ and create a culture that supports survivors and healthy relationships.

I think it will take a lot more than simply reforming our laws to end the epidemic of violence against women. There must be a broader change and shift towards women within society. We have grown up with practices, norms and behaviours that have shaped these power structures contributing towards patterns of domestic violence. Through deconstructing the patriarchy and gender inequality within Australia, we can hopefully move towards a society without violence against women.