She might be young, but girl, is she mighty! Meet Josie, a true force of nature and big time Active Voice. Following her mothers’ passing, Josie addressed the NSW government with a petition to include domestic violence awareness and prevention in the NSW high school curriculum. Like the total badass she is, the petition was successful, changing the educational syllabus forever. Read on to discover her story.
**CW: this interview mentions suicide and domestic violence**
Unleash your passion: what do you stand for?
My passion and ultimate goal in life is to be able to help people, whether it be men or women – with my main focus on the safety and care of children. I feel it’s so important for everyone, regardless of age or gender, to feel empowered and as if they can take on the world and the challenges life throws at us.
I am currently studying my certificate II in social work in the hopes of eventually becoming a counsellor for young people.
Was there a pivotal moment that made you think ‘everyone needs to hear what I have to say’?
In all honesty, the effect my mothers suicide had on me lead me to speak out, because I knew that I wasn’t the only person in the world going through this.
I consider myself an empath to some extent, and it hurt me deeply knowing nothing was being done to help other kids like me. It was not long after it happened that I decided to make the petition, and it was something I thought about for a long time but put off due to being afraid of what people would think. Looking back at it, I’m grateful that my younger self decided to go through with it.
What fuels you to be active and speak out?
To put it short; I don’t want anybody else to have to go through what I did. I look back at my childhood with more knowledge of others’ perspective and I see why things were the way they were. The mental strain my mother went through lead to her making bad decisions which ultimately, would effect me, and by the time I was 12 I was kicked out of home* while already homeless.
The violence in my household seemed to be continuous and I felt bullied by my own family. I remember from a young age, many days I’d find myself praying to God asking for things to just stop. I wish I could’ve been there for my younger self to do something.
I feel like there is a stigma attached to the way victims of domestic violence deal with their hurt and trauma, which is something I think stops many victims from speaking out. This needs to change, and the effects domestic violence has on your mental health needs to be addressed in order for victims to feel valid enough to speak up.
As you’re aware, we think you’re amazingly inspiring (and badass), and truly epitomise what it means to be an ‘Active Voice’. How would you personally define this title, and what does it mean to you?
To me, an active voice is anybody who stands up for the greater good, and what they believe in. There’s no scale for it either, you could be changing the world or your local community. Anybody that feels empowered to speak up for what they believe in is a total boss, as well as an active voice. If nobody stood for anything, where would we be now?
What does your ideal world look like? Are we that far off from achieving it?
Happy places and happy people is my ideal world, a world where we can all coexist and spread nothing but love. Maybe having everything made of marshmallows would be ideal too, but until someone figures how to do that, I think we’re stuck.
Unfortunately, its a fact of life that not everyone is kind, and I think that is because of the circumstances they’ve grown up in/around. Maybe if we as a worldwide community continue to teach and preach love, the next generation of parents will (for the most part) create a good growing and learning environment for their children. This way neither the parents nor children are burdened with negativity, and don’t need to project.
Domestic violence used to be so heavily stigmatised and victims weren’t able to come out of their environment, so I do feel like continued education on the topic will benefit not only the students, but also their communities because it IS common, but people just don’t know about it. Maybe one day we will reach this ideal world, I’m hoping it’s soon.
For those who have a fire in their belly, but don’t know how to let it out, what would you suggest?
Write about it, draw or paint about it, write a song about it; it’s all up to whatever you’re comfortable with doing. Turn that fire you feel into a passion and watch it bloom.
Give yourself a little love: what makes you feel truly rad?
Being told I had been a help to someone makes me feel over the moon and overall amazing, but also getting into bed with fresh sheets after a hot bath IS THE BOMB and makes me feel like a goddess every. single. time.
Follow Josie: @babyd00m
If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence call the RESPECT hotline on 1800 737 732.