Domestic violence survivor Simone O'Brien calls on Australians to get to know their neighbours

Simone O’Brien says she would not be here today if it wasn’t for the help of her neighbours.

Three people rushed to her aid when the mother of three was brutally attacked by a former partner in 2012.

Now the survivor and White Ribbon advocate has called on Australians to be more neighbourly, saying it could save lives.

“I owe them my life,” Ms O’Brien said. “I would encourage everyone to get to know their neighbours. You never know what’s happening behind someone’s door and when you or someone else may need a helping hand.”

ADVOCATE: Domestic violence survivor Simone O'Brien at The Hills' inaugural March Against Violence in November 2015. Ms O'Brien spent a month in intensive care after three neighbours rescued her from an ex-partner. Picture: Gene Ramirez

ADVOCATE: Domestic violence survivor Simone O'Brien at The Hills' inaugural March Against Violence in November 2015. Ms O'Brien spent a month in intensive care after three neighbours rescued her from an ex-partner. Picture: Gene Ramirez

The Blacktown area has the highest rate of domestic violence in Sydney, with the most recent statistics indicating there were 613.9 incidents per 100,000 people (compared to the state average of 379.7 incidents). Most experts agree less than half of all people who have been a victim of domestic violence ever report it.

White Ribbon, the world’s largest male-led movement to stop violence against women, is encouraging people to host a barbecue and get to know their neighbours on July 28.

White Ribbon chief executive Libby Davies said this year’s theme was focused on the benefits of strengthening community and building support networks.

“White Ribbon Night is an opportunity for Australians to reach out to their neighbours, start important conversations which raise awareness of domestic violence against women, and build strong community bonds that could be lifesaving,” Ms Davies said.

Associate professor Michael Flood added: “If we can build communities with strong norms of respect, non-violence, and equality, this will have a powerful impact on rates of domestic and family violence.

“Perpetrators will feel far less able to get away with using violence, victims will find it easier to seek support and to escape violence, and friends and neighbours will be more likely to take action when they suspect there is abuse.”

Funds raised on White Ribbon Night will go toward violence prevention programs in schools, workplaces and the community.

To register to host a night, go to whiteribbon.org.au/night.

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