News celebrity Ray Martin said there was “never an excuse” for family violence when he joined Rosie Batty in Wagga on Thursday.
The most recognised interviewer in Australia became the interviewee as he shared his harrowing childhood story, shadowed by the abuse his family escaped.
A five-time Gold Logie winner, Mr Martin joined the 2015 Australian of the year, Ms Batty as she kick-started a community conversation about Wagga’s family violence “epidemic”.
Mr Martin said his visit would form part of an upcoming television series, exposing Australia’s Hidden Shame and highlighting the “heavy issue” that impacted his life as a child.
Mr Martin said his “amazing” mother was brave enough to escape his father’s abuse when he was 11-years old.
“She was increasingly being bashed when the old man was drunk,” Mr Martin said.
“He’d threatened to kill her.”
Mr Martin said he saw first-hand how abuse could start verbal and emotional, later turning violent.
Mr Martin applauded women like Ms Batty, courageous enough to “open their hearts” and share their stories.
He said the statistics were simple: “Eight-in-10 victims of domestic violence are women” and “nine-in-10 culprits are men”.
Mr Martin said the issue was complex and slow to change but there was finally “a light at the end of the tunnel” where victims could find salvation.
As with smoking and drink driving, Mr Martin said the idea that domestic violence was a “soft crime” and “taboo” was a cultural attitude that could be shifted.
“You have to change attitudes,” he said.
“Men stopping the violence and women stopping accepting it.”
Mr Martin said across fifty years of journalism, he had seen and heard the affects of an issue, traditionally kept behind closed doors.
He said over time a zero-tolerance for domestic violence was becoming more widely adopted but there was still a long way to go,
Mr Martin said projects like the TV series – yet to air – were an important step in the change process, as they encouraged communities like Wagga to talk, think and adapt.