White Ribbon Day
25 November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, also known as White Ribbon Day
What is violence against women?
The official definition is of violence against women is:
‘any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.’
Wind back to 2004….
I was out shopping and the second text came “Can you get the paper?” The first I had received just 15 minutes after leaving home as he reminded me that he loved me. Oh,how sweet. Half an hour later he called. “Where are you now?”I sighed and reassured him that I was still at the supermarket, yes I had received his text, yes I loved him too.Seriously, I thought to myself. Give me some space.
Interestingly, at the time I was working as a midwife. A frequent part of my role was, recognising and responding to domestic violence.
And yet I missed the early signs myself.
One day before I went into town he was cuddling me in the kitchen, lifted my skirt and asked “What colour knickers are you wearing?” It seemed like harmless fun until I learnt that when I got home he checked that I was still wearing the same pair. “Just want to check your being faithful” What The Actual Fuck!
I was talking to a counsellor about another issue with one of the children and with her wisdom and experience she picked up on something I said and her questions shifted to asking me about this man’s behaviour towards me.
I had tried to make the session quick as He was waiting out in the car ( Oh god , is that not a red flag in itself!!) She gently but directly got to her point. “You are in an abusive relationship. This is controlling behaviour”
A light bulb went off. I stared at her with a mixture of shock and relief. The vibration within me was my soul calling out which had known all along that something was up.
She told me “You know women take several attempts to leave. Generally they come and go about 5 times before they leave the relationship.” I grinned at her and said “Can I walk in and out of your office 5 times right now? I am done”…… and I was.
What I learnt from this relationship was how socially ingrained patterns of male control over women are and now I can spot it a mile off.
The impact of this violence on women can be physical, sexual and psychological. For me, the low level verbal and social control I experienced made me hyper vigilant in predicting his needs, protecting the children from being yelled at by covering for them. I avoided social situations because his comments were embarrass.
Tragically violence against women can also result in death: women die from the negative health effects of violence and some are killed.
Violence against women affects women’s well-being and prevents them from fully participating in society. It also impacts on families, the community and the nation. As I wrote earlier this week, I see the negative consequences of domestic violence in my work as a midwife DAILY.
But what about violence against men?
Sigh . Really? This is actually a whole other post.
Of course men’s violence against women is not the only form of violence. I know violence is experienced by both men and women. All forms of violence are unacceptable.
The White Ribbon Campaign focuses on women because the majority of domestic violence victims in Australia are women, and this is most likely to be perpetrated by a man.
Violence prevention campaigns need a central focus to be successful in their mission and the White Ribbon campaign does focus on violence perpetrated against women
White Ribbon Australia engages men to highlight the positive role men can play to stop domestic violence and other forms of men’s violence against women. White Ribbon Australia tailors messaging and tools to achieve this mission
The impact of violence against women
Violence against women and their children takes a profound and long-term toll on women and children’s health and well being, on families and communities, and on society as a whole.
Intimate partner violence contributes to more death, disability and illness in women aged 15 to 44 than any other preventable risk factor.
Domestic or family violence against women is the single largest driver of homelessness for women, a common factor in child protection notifications, and results in a police call-out on average once every two minutes across the country.
Have you taken the oath?
There is something you ca do right now to contribute to the White Ribbon Campaign. You can take the oath that you will work towards the end of violence against women here