Queensland police officer Ben Bjarnesen has shared his own experience of domestic violence in a powerful TEDx talk.
The openly gay police officer is a domestic violence survivor. Earlier this year Bjarnesen spoke at TEDxUQ hosted by the University of Queensland.
The popular lectures are held on thousands of different topics all over the world. Bjarnesen’s talk is now available to stream on YouTube.
“I’m a big, six-foot-three police officer,” he told the audience.
“Most people wouldn’t look at me and think that I could be a victim of domestic violence.
“I didn’t think I could be either. Yet here I am as proof that domestic violence can happen to anyone.
“I felt ashamed, I felt invisible and I felt stupid that I’d ended up in this position. But I now know that domestic violence can happen to anyone.”
Bjarnesen is an LGBTIQ Liaison Officer in the Queensland Police Service. He’s also a fierce advocate of improved services for LGBTQ victims and survivors of domestic and family violence.
He shared his own experiences in an abusive relationship with the TEDx audience.
“On the surface and on social media my relationship looked great,” he explained.
“We lived in a lovely house together. We had a beautiful German Shepherd Zulu.
“We’d go away on holidays together and nights out on the town.
“Yet beneath the surface, it was a relationship that was based on power and control.”
‘Domestic violence is here and it’s harming our own community’
Ben Bjarnesen said he wasn’t alone. Over half of LGBTQ people will experience some form of domestic, family or intimate partner violence or abuse in their lifetime.
However many victims remain invisible, with only a fraction of cases reported to police.
In response, Bjarnesen last year founded the now annual LGBTQ Domestic Violence Awareness Day event.
“Despite incredibly alarming [statistics] there’s still an enormous lack of awareness about this issue,” he told the TEDx talk audience.
“It doesn’t matter what your job is how much money you earn, your gender identity your sexuality your religion or your cultural background.
“Domestic violence is here and it’s harming our very own LGBTQ friends, family members and work colleagues every day.”
Bjarnesen said sadly many LGBTIQ people “may not even realise that domestic violence can affect them and their relationships.”
“As a result they don’t get the support that they need and remain at a higher risk of abuse and harm.
“I know that I was ashamed to talk to anyone about it. I thought that people would judge me, I wasn’t sure if I’d be believed or taken seriously.”
Watch Ben Bjarnesen’s TEDx talk in full below:
If you or someone you know is at risk of domestic and family violence
In an emergency call Triple Zero (000) and ask for the police.
Support for Queensland women is available from the DVConnect Womensline on 1800 811 811.
Support for Queensland men is available on the DVConnect Mensline on 1800 600 636.
Call Diverse Voices on 1800 184 527 from 3pm – midnight. Diverse Voices is a peer-to-peer phone and internet counselling service focused on the diverse voices that make up our community.
For the latest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.