Yarning with Lani

Lani Brennan By Lani Brennan

My name is Lani Brennan. I am a survivor of family violence, and a mother of six beautiful girls.

I prefer to use the term ‘family violence’ when talking about domestic violence because violence against women and children doesn’t just affect one person, it affects everyone. In one way or another, family violence affects the whole community.

At first I was scared to share my story. My daughters asked me, ‘mum, why didn’t you just leave?’ I had to talk to them about what I’d been through in life, how I was down and out; no confidence and no self-esteem.

I am so proud to see how my daughters have used my example to talk about healthy relationships and respect for women among their friends. I’ve seen the positive ripple effect this can have, all from talking openly and setting the right example.

I was raised in a community where there was a lot of alcoholism and drugs, violence, not going to school, not working, and so I thought that was normal. When I experienced disrespectful behaviour from men, I thought this was normal too.

It’s our responsibility to show and teach our young people that these things are not normal. Teaching them when they are young is the key, because it’s very hard to try and change a person’s thinking when they’re older.

I see a lot of our young people saying things like ‘girls can’t even play footy’ or adults telling our young women to ignore disrespect and even violence.

The stop it at the start campaign is targeting the disrespectful attitudes and behaviours that parents and other role models teach our young people, often without realising it. I think this message is so important, because what we say to our kids and show them by our own actions, shapes their attitudes and beliefs.

Making a positive change and building more respectful relationships in our communities starts with talking to our children in the right way. I yarn with young people whenever I get the chance, and talk to them about the importance of respect and healthy relationships.  And if you’re a role model, you need to practice what you preach.

I hope this new campaign will be met with open minds and help to start a healing process. When it comes to Aboriginal people there’s a lot of transgenerational trauma and we need to begin talking in order to heal.

Family violence is a huge battle, and we all need to work because prevention is always easier than intervention.