This Friday is Stop Family Violence Day and the following day is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Well, I tell you, with everything that has been in the news lately – from Weinstein to the American President to Louis CK – it seems that we need these awareness days even more.
Times are changing. No longer are women going to be the shrinking violets that feel that they have to stay quiet. There is strength in numbers and oh boy – are there numbers coming forward now. It may seem to some that it is a “witch hunt”.
But if we look at it a bit closer, maybe the men who have been doing these reprehensible things are just getting a taste of what it’s like to be a woman every… single… day. Looking over your shoulder. Worried about what people are thinking or saying about you. Feeling like you’re being “watched” or that every single little thing you do is being judged.
I say… welcome to the world of what it’s like to be a woman.
With that being said… I wanted to look at this issue in a broader way. What affects us as women, also affects our children, thereby making it a family issue too. If a parent is abusing his partner, you can be sure that impacts the kids. And many times, the abuser will also hurt the children.
Physical or emotional abuse – reaches every corner of our society. It does not respect class, race, religion, culture or wealth. A working class mother on a run-down estate is just as likely to be abused as a professional woman used to managing teams of staff and making million-pound decisions.
Overwhelmingly domestic violence is experienced by women and the perpetrator is male. Yet although in the vast majority of cases it is male to female, we should recognise that men, children and the elderly can be abused, and that domestic violence also occurs in gay and lesbian relationships.
The cost to society is staggering. In London a minimum of £278m is spent each year responding to domestic violence, without even taking into account medical and legal costs. And then there are the lost days at work, the increase in truancy levels, the rise in juvenile crime.
First off… the statistics.
According to the United Nations:
Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today.
Violence against women is the most extreme form of discrimination. According to a United Nations report, on the basis of data from 2005 to 2016 for 87 countries, 19 per cent of women between 15 and 49 years of age said they had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner in the 12 months prior to the survey. In the most extreme cases, such violence can lead to death. In 2012, almost half of all women who were victims of intentional homicide worldwide were killed by an intimate partner or family member, compared to 6 per cent of male victims.
It’s not just bruises…
PeaceFirst describes Violence as the intentional use of force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself (self-abuse or suicide), another person (child abuse, partner violence, elder abuse, assault on strangers, etc). It can result in injury, death, psychological harm, or deprivation.
Nearly half of all adolescent girls think a husband is justified in hitting his partner
Almost 1/4 of 15-19 year old girls have been victims of physical violence
The TV movie picture of domestic violence is an out-of-control, man flying into a fit of rage. But that’s not always how it goes. Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior in which one exerts power and control over another individual. The abusers are ALL about control. Everything they do is about controlling the other person: verbal abuse, isolation, controlling the finances, reproductive coercion, sabotaging birth control so a partner gets pregnant and he’s saying she has to stay home with the baby. It’s hardly EVER a one time incident.
In fact, most times it’s NOT physical… at least at first.
Abuse can be emotional, psychological, verbal, and sexual, and often escalates. An abuser may initially be charismatic and caring before slowly starting to wear away at the family member’s self-esteem by criticizing them, implying they simply aren’t good enough, and isolating them from family and friends.
Abusers in relationships, may also push sexual boundaries by coercing, pressuring, threatening, or intimidating their partners into unwanted sexual activity, or even sexual assault.
What should I do if I know someone is a victim of family violence?
If you think someone is being hurt, you can
Tell them you are concerned about their safety.
Ask them to talk to you about what is happening to them.
Listen to them. Let them know you believe them.
Is it a mother who is being hurt? Help her understand that her children are being hurt, also.
Let them know that what is being done to them is a crime. Let them know that it is not their fault.
Help them find the support they need.
How can I help stop family violence?
If you would like to help stop family violence, here are some suggestions:
Learn more about family violence. The more you understand, the easier it will be to recognize it and help friends who may be victims.
Report abuse when you see it.
Think about your own actions, and how you talk with others about violent actions.
Volunteer with or join an organization that is dedicated to stopping family violence,
Get involved in a global initiative! UN’s 2017 Theme: Leave no one behind UNiTE leads the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence campaign, which aims to raise public awareness and mobilize people everywhere to bring about change. Those 16 days go from 25th November to 10th December, which is Human Rights Day. The theme of the campaign for 2017 is “Leave no one behind: end violence against women and girls”. As in previous years, the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign invites you to “Orange the world,” using the colour designated by the UNiTE campaign to symbolize a brighter future without violence. Organize events to orange streets, schools and landmarks!