As, a survivor of domestic violence the 25th November is a day when I feel acknowledged. It is the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women or White Ribbon Day.
My social media feeds are filled with stories of brave women sharing their story, in the hopes of creating a future where all women are safe in their homes. I admire them and I am proud to be one of them.
My feed is also full of slogans, calls to action if you like. But I am left wondering what do they even mean?
‘I am against violence against women’ is one that pops up all the time. Every time I see I think to myself, if this is your call to action what is the action?
The one that comes up consistently was Stand Up, Speak Out and Act. Which I love as it is what we need people to do.
Do people actually know what it means to do it?
In order to stand up for something we need to understand it. Are we standing up to all forms of domestic violence (DV) or talking only about physical. Do you know the types of abuse?
DV is complex, we need to understand it in order to truly stand up to it.
Who are you standing up to?
Is it as simple as saying no to violence against women? Or can we look at the causes and stand up to the societal issue that perpetuate this situation.
If we truly understand the complexities of DV we truly can stand up for and become part of real and lasting change.
What are we saying, are we calling out people we know, who abuse their partner? And if, yes, do we have enough understanding of DV to know whether or not we are not doing more harm then good?
Are we speaking out to all abusers, if yes, then do we think they are listening?
It is lovely to see people raising funds and awareness by doing fun run, a walk or the many other ways I have seen. It shows people care, and I know from experience how important it is to know people care and support you.
Something we are all clear on is the need to call out sexist behaviour in our communities, workplaces and social groups. Making it clear that you say no when it comes to disrespecting women.
Saying NO is important. But so is having:
- A legal system which truly understands DV.
- Free legal representation.
- Rooms available in shelters
- A government which allocates resources to front line services.
- Businesses who create a culture of empathy and understanding
- Churches who recognise DV and support those impacted.
Because for me when I escaped my violent marriage and I was trying to re-built my life. What mattered was:
- Feeling safe in my home.
- Food on the table
- A roof over my head
- Money in the bank
- Good legal representation.
It is the reason I am passionate about what I do because all of this would have been easier if I had, had continuity of employment.
Do we really understand what we mean by act beyond calling out sexist behaviour.
- Standing up to a perpetrator? If yes, do you know enough about DV to know if the action you are doing is even safe?
- Signing petitions, activating for real change.
- Donating funds to front line services.
- Teaching our children about respect and healthy relationships.
What does act mean to you?
To me this is the part missing. Because from listening we understand; and from a place of real understanding we can truly stand up, speak out and act.
Remember safety is the most important thing. As the Hippocratic Oath says ‘First do no harm’
I am thankful this is an issue so many people care about and who want to be part of the solution. It is healing for me and I hope it is for others too.
To all those who have survived, and those who are still in abusive relationships my heart goes out to you along with a promise that I will continue to do my part to bring about sustainable change.