Brave survivor, William Cullen, speaks out at inaugural Rotary Club of Singleton Sunrise White Ribbon Luncheon

Family violence survivor, William Cullen, understands where his feelings come from.

They came to the for after the death of his abusive father and he has been battling them ever since.

He says it is the mental scars rather than the physical abuse that haunts him the most.

Like the time he had to make up an excuse as to why he was not attending a school excursion after his father used the money his mum had saved to buy alcohol.

Although Mr Cullen can still easily recall the physical toll - 1800 stitches, 28 broken ribs, a punctured lung and two broken jaws.

This brave young man shared his harrowing story in a brutally honest manner at the Rotary Club of Singleton Sunrise’s inaugural White Ribbon Domestic Violence Luncheon.

They hosted the event to raise awareness around domestic violence (DV) and how it impacts our community while also raising funds for White Ribbon Australia and Upper Hunter Homeless Support (UHHS), who are the local body tasked with helping victims find safe accommodation.

Around 80 people gathered at Diggers to hear Mr Cullen and other guest speakers, give their personal insight into this increasingly prevalent crime.

From White Ribbon Ambassadors Jon Chin and Hunter Valley Local Area Command Chief Inspector Guy Guiana to lawyer Joplin Higgins, the disturbing message was clear – this is a “whole of community problem” that is endemic in the Hunter and only a radical cultural shift will stem the tide of rising violence against women.

With Chief Inspector Guiana revealing they are called to 1500 DV incidents per year which equates to 28 a week.

He says in most of these cases the perpetrators are male and while policing is evolving in this area the ultimate solution lies in addressing the gender inequality gap that still exists in our society.

In closing he requested all the men in the room rise to their feet and take the White Ribbon Oath.

And, this is why Mr Chin who emceed the luncheon, suggested extending an invitation to the leaders at our local high schools.

As he knows they are the advocates of the future that will led the cultural change needed to ensure “woman are not seen as less important”.

The leaders accepted while St Cath’s also felt compelled to send their Year 12 Legal Studies.

Their teacher, Catherine McBurney, says they study how the law deals with DV but this was an opportunity to go beyond this.

The students listened intently to Mr Cullen’s personal experience of family violence and his impassioned plea for change.

“We need to get off our hands and do something,” he said.

Mr Cullen explained while all the groups advocating for change are trying hard they need to co-ordinate their efforts.

There needs to be support for women during the critical period after they leave the family home, he said.

White Ribbon Day is officially on Saturday, November 25 and men around the country are encouraged to take the oath.