By Mikayla Van Loon
The impact of family violence can spread far and wide, touching the lives of many.
It doesn’t pick and choose who is affected.
In an aim to get people talking about family violence, local runners and walkers will hit the pavement in the fourth annual Run Against Violence (RAV) Virtual Team Challenge.
Mooroolbark resident Jenelle Hardiman will lead her team of ten through the 1300km challenge in 19 days for the second year in a row.
The significance of the distance run equates to approximately 1.7 million steps, one for each of the estimated number of Australians who experienced physical abuse before the age of 15.
Ms Hardiman said it is important to raise awareness around family violence because it is more prevalent than people realise.
“If people haven’t been exposed to family violence themselves they really tend to think that it doesn’t occur as much as it does. The issue with this is that for some victims, they feel like they are the minority, that they have caused it and that it is shameful. The end result is that they don’t seek help early,” Ms Hardiman said.
“The longer people live in shame and fear of being exposed to family violence, the more likely that they will suffer long term psychologically and emotionally and also the more likely that they will be seriously injured or worse.
“By raising awareness and taking away the stigma for victims, there’s more chance that both victims and perpetrators will get help – before the damage is too great.”
Last year Ms Hardiman said she was really just looking for virtual events that would keep her motivated to run during the lockdowns but this year the team was more focused on raising awareness.
“So last year we signed up just for something to do but being a part of it and hearing some of the stories and where our entry money went, this year we have been motivated by the cause.”
Engaging people in the conversation through social media, whether they realise they are talking about family violence or not, has been the best way to bring the issue of family violence to the forefront of people’s minds.
“Between us we have over 1000 people that then view our progress and then this gets people talking even if they don’t realise that is what they are talking about,” Ms Hardiman said.
“I also post some of the information that is posted on the event page now and again. It is all just about getting people talking in the hope that it might just help even one person.”
Run Against Violence was established by Brad Smithers and Kirrily Dear in 2015. The virtual team challenge began in 2017 as support for Dear’s solo run from Broken Hill to Sydney.
Teams of up to 20 people track their daily kilometres run and the tracker collects and collates each team member’s distances so the participants can watch their team move across the map from Broken Hill to Sydney.
With ten team members, all who are competent runners, Ms Hardiman’s team will have to run 6.8km each per day.
“If you have a day off that makes it 13.6 the next day. It means everyone has to go hard and constant. 6.8km a day doesn’t sound like that much until you have to do it day in day out irrespective of anything else that comes up in your life,” she said.
Run Against Violence has recently joined forces with the National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) to help ensure that every teenager in Australia has the opportunity to learn about what healthy relationships look like for them.
This year RAV hopes to raise $180,000 to be split evenly between NAPCAN and the charity itself.
Registrations are still open for the event, with it starting on 30 August. To register or to find out more information, head to https://www.runagainstviolence.com/