I Swear! A Personal Marathon to End Men's Violence against Women

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In November 2014 Kirrily Dear will run 860km through regional NSW in 12 days to honour and learn from the outstanding work underway to stop men's violence against women. One in three Australian women will experience violence and abuse in their lifetime. Regional NSW has some of the highest rates of men's violence against women, in some areas it is up to 11 times metropolitan rates. Kirrily is passionate about using all she has been given and earned to create a better life for other women. 

We want to know all about how and why you are on your current mission, how it came about, why is it so important to you?

In November 2014 I will run 860km through regional NSW in 12 days to honour and learn from the outstanding work underway to stop men's violence against women.

Like most people I struggle with the reality that one in three Australian women will experience violence and abuse in their lifetime.  It is soul crushing to hear what many women are living with every day. Regional NSW has some of the highest rates of men's violence against women, in some areas it is up to 11 times metropolitan rates.

I am one of the lucky ones.  I am surrounded by men I respect and who respect me.  I know from first-hand experience that men and women can live and thrive together when relationships are based on respect. I have my health.  I have an incredible support network around me. I want to use all I have been given and earned to create a better life for other women.

I took up running as a dedicated sport around 7 years ago.  Very quickly I found I had a passion for ultramarathon, that's any distance longer than a standard marathon of 42.2km.  Within 14 months I had completed my first 100km and have never looked back.  I have had the privilege of competing in Australia's toughest and longest races. 

For a long time I quietly dreamed of the potential of doing an ultramarthon to raise awareness of violence against women, but something held me back from taking that next step.  I think it was a difficult mix of fear and self doubt.  Last year I competed in the 250km Big Red Run across the Simpson Desert.  During that race I discovered a few things about myself, physically, mentally and emotionally and on the bus trip home I decided it was time.

It took about few months for me to summon up the courage to click the send button on an email to White Ribbon with my idea for the run.  I expected a polite 'thanks but no thanks' reply but instead they gave their full support. White Ribbon then introduced me to so very special people at NSW Police who immediately jumped on board and who have been the driving energy behind helping me and my team turn our dream into reality.

Tell us some more about your Adventure

I will be running 860km across regional NSW starting in Walgett on 14th November and finishing in Forbes on 25th November, White Ribbon Day.

We have major events planned in connection with the Ultramarathon to get the community engaged in talking about violence against women. These are taking place in Walgett, Tamworth, Dubbo and Forbes.  We also have a number of smallers events happening and we are encouraging sporting groups (especially running groups) and organisations to get involved.  More details are becoming available via our Facebook page 

We are also conducting an online conversation via our Facebook page titled; 'What steps can I take to stop violence against women' where we are all working together to identify one or two steps we can all take to help stop violence.  We can't wait for governments and organisations to solve this problem.  It's a community based problem and we all have a roll to play in fixing it.  Please come and like our Facebook page and be part of the discussion.

What is it you want to accomplish and how do you see it empowering others?

Ultimately I want violence against women to stop.  In fact, I'd like violence against men to stop as well.

If you want to be part of the solution please jump onto our Facebook page, read some of the posts and:

  1. Think about what is being said
  2. Share the post with your friends if you find it interesting or learn something
  3. Talk with other people about what you have learned.

When I first started becoming more aware of the extent of violence in our community I noticed people were expressing outrage but there seemed to be little action.  Advocacy groups and opinion leaders kept saying 'the government has to do more' or 'the law makers have to do more' and even 'the victims have to do more' but no-one was saying 'I have to do more'.  I noticed that its one of those subjects that we always seem to want to make someone else's problem.

That insight steeled my resolve to learn why we struggle with accepting personal responsibility for this problem and what practical steps each of us can take to stop the violence.

Violence against women is a taboo subject in Australian culture which means a thick, black cloud of silence descends.  Silence gives power to the perpetrators, when nothing is said it is taken as  consent or endorsement of the behaviour. A lack of discussion also means people's understanding of violence tends to be poorly informed by stereotypes and vaguaries rather than fact, which fuels the continuation of violence.

With such a complex and widespread problem its easy to understand why people think big interventions are necessary to achieve a resolution, when in fact really simple actions by each and everyone of us will solve most of the problem. The examples and stories we will be sharing along our journey hopefully will help people understand the impact they can have and just how empowered each person is to make a difference.

Who has inspired you to this point?

Too many names to mention!

Survivors of violence fuel my passion and drive.  People have confidentially shared very tragic stories with me yet they continue to move forward with life and be resilient.

The ultra-running community for showing me what is possible and dedicating hundreds of work hours to breathe life into this crazy idea.

The NSW Police and Domestic Violence committee members who we are working with out en route, hearing what they do, the change initiatives they have instigated and the incredible positive impact it is having.

The people who have read our posts on Facebook and then said 'I didn't know that' or 'I hadn't thought of that before' or 'I was talking to a friend about that the other day...'.  Honestly it sometimes nearly brings me to tears because I know the difference it is making.  Every one of those seemingly inconsequential steps is adding up to finally bring an end to the violence.

Why is this project important for change? 

  • At least one Australian woman every week is killed by a current or former intimate partner.
  • 1 in 3 Australian women will experience violence in their lifetime.
  • In the 12 months to December 2013, 28,291 domestic violence related assaults were reported in NSW alone.  (source: BOSCAR Quarterly Report. Note in these statistics the victim could be male or female.)
  • 60% of women report experiencing violence in the workplace.  75% report experiencing unwelcome and unwanted sexual behaviour in the workplace. (source: VicHealth, 2012,Preventing violence against women in the workplace (An evidence review: summary report) Victorian Health Promotion Foundation, Melbourne, Australia)

Thanks Kirrily

Find Out More at: facebook.com/whiteribbonrunwhiteribbon.org.au 
Want to support the cause more?  Kirrily is selling White Ribbon shoe laces via her Facebook Page HERE . If you would like a t-shirt, you can buy them from  White Ribbon HERE

Amy Heague

With over 20 years experience in the Arts & Media arena, Amy is a creative, dynamic and outside of the box thinker and public speaker.
Passionate about empowering women to discover their unique gifting and skills they have to ‘bring to the table’ be it in their professional or personal lives.