Ray Martin will share the harrowing story of his childhood experience of domestic violence as part of a TV special filmed in regional Australia.
The five-time Gold Logie winner will be joined on the program, Dark Secrets: Australia’s Hidden Shame, by 2015 Australian of the Year and anti-domestic violence campaigner Rosie Batty.
While recording interviews with Batty, Martin said there was “never an excuse” for family violence.
The most recognised interviewer in Australia, the former 60 Minutes and A Current Affair star became the interviewee as he reflected on a childhood shadowed by the abuse his family was forced to escape.
Martin said the “heavy issue” had a major impact on his life as he saw first-hand how abuse could begin as verbal and emotional and later turn violent.
His “amazing” mother was brave enough to escape his father’s abuse when Martin was 11 years old.
“She was increasingly being bashed when the old man was drunk,” the journalist of 50 years recalled. “He’d threatened to kill her.”
Filmed in Newcastle and the Hunter, Albury and Tumut, Western Australia, the NSW North Coast and the Gold Coast, Martin’s TV special includes interviews with survivors, emergency workers and community leaders, and includes footage of a domestic violence police unit responding to calls.
Martin said he applauded women like Ms Batty who were courageous enough to “open their hearts” and share their stories.
Ms Batty has become a powerful voice against domestic violence since her son, Luke, was murdered by his father in February 2014.
Martin said the statistics were simple: “Eight in 10 victims of domestic violence are women” and “nine in 10 culprits are men”.
While the issue was complex, there was finally “a light at the end of the tunnel” where victims could find salvation.
Like smoking and drink-driving, the notion that domestic violence was a “soft crime” and “taboo” was a cultural attitude that was shifting.
There was still a way to go but over time the community would have a zero-tolerance attitude towards domestic violence, he said.
“You have to change attitudes,” Martin said. “Men stopping the violence and women stopping accepting it.”
Dark Secrets: Australia’s Hidden Shame screens on Prime TV at 8.30pm on May 28. It follows Martin’s December 2016 special on the ice epidemic.
If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or family violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit www.1800RESPECT.org.au. In an emergency, phone 000.