From Alaska to Australia, and everywhere in between, women are more likely to experience violence from strangers, close friends and family alike. Whether it be physical, mental or sexual, women are subject to a particular violence that men are not.
Today is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and whether you’d like to admit it or not, masculinity that tells women that they must only cook, clean, remain silent and be subject to men is a common thread between societies all over the world. Like violence, toxic masculinity can be many things. But today (and every day), we should be examining how excessive masculinity leads to abusive situations for women, and most importantly, we should be actively seeking how to stop it.
But before stopping it, we must know what exactly all types of violence are. Unfortunately, violence against women can take many forms. On the surface level, violence is physical abuse: hitting, kicking, pushing, and more, but that isn’t the only form of violence women face. According to healthyplace.com, psychological abuse, or mental abuse, is “any act including confinement, isolation, verbal assault, humiliation, intimidation, infantilization, or any other treatment which may diminish the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth [of a person].” This can be someone telling their partner that they aren’t good enough to accomplish their dreams in life and verbally threatening them scare them from going to certain places. Essentially, mental abuse can be difficult to point out, but it has an overarching theme of control. Sexual violence is also prevalent across the world, with reported sexual assault rates extremely high at colleges and universities in the U.S.
By now you’re probably thinking—or at least I hope you’re thinking—“How can I help?”
The first thing you can do is be a listening ear. Many women in abusive relationships are so caught up in the intricacies and confusion of their relationship, they don’t understand that they are experiencing domestic violence. Others are simply too afraid to share what they’re going through.
If you begin to see patterns of fear from a friend or see physical marks that could be signs of abuse, based on the situation that your friend shares with you, call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. You can also report the situation or chat with a representative at www.thehotline.org/ for recommended next steps.
It also can be helpful to have a conversation with this friend about how you are concerned about their well-being because of unhealthy signs you have observed in their relationship. Depending on how they respond, it also wouldn’t hurt to share the National Domestic Abuse Hotline’s contact information so your friend can reach out for themselves.
Sexual assault survivors should also be encouraged to report their assault in a way that they feel comfortable. Sexual assault can be an ongoing threat because rapists don’t always suffer consequences. If they feel more comfortable keeping their identity private, reporting sexual offenders anonymously allows universities to hold rapists somewhat accountable while sexual assault survivors identities are kept safe.
In countries like Afghanistan and Somalia, violence against women ranges from stopping young girls from receiving education while their male counterparts continue schooling to female genital mutilation and cutting practices that can severely damage young girls and women’s health. In fact, at least 200 million women and girls today have undergone this practice in 30 countries around the world, and those numbers only represent societies that keep count. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women is an excellent resource to use to find ways that you can contribute to uplifting women who experience this type of violence.
It is a somber truth that violence against women extends well beyond our own backyards. It even extends beyond our own countries, and the specific regions of the world we live in. Though all of us don’t have the access we’d like to end violence everywhere all at once, one thing each of us, men included, can do is wear orange. The United Nation’s organization encourages people everywhere to wear orange on this day to symbolically show your dedication to ending violence against women everywhere.
But remember, though the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women is today, it is our duty to protect women—of all ethnicities, religions, classes, and nationalities—every day. That way, we create a better and fairer world for all of us.
Want more information? YTH past projects include Unete Latina, a program focused on domestic violence prevention for Spanish speaking women in the Fresno area, and Circle of Six a White House and Health and Human Services award winning project to prevent dating violence for young adults.
Have more ideas? We’d love to hear from you.
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