When violence is perpetrated against our mothers, sisters, wives and children, the whole of society suffers.
Act to seek out such suffering – it may be hiding in that very women or child in front of you. Fear and pain are hidden within victims of violence. They often tend to remain silent about their shame, pain and fear. They are likely to be all around; in a meeting, queueing in the canteen, or rubbing shoulders in a taxi. So reach out with kindness and love – you may prevent a trauma, even save a life, and help restore hope and belief in life.
These vulnerable people can be anywhere; they are rich and poor, educated and uneducated, single or married. They will be found in urban and suburban areas in every province – so, sadly this is almost an epidemic in our beloved country. And while the abuse is aimed mainly at woman and children who can’t defend themselves, there are also men in our society who suffer silence.
Help to shift the ‘guys-with-guys’ attitude
Over time violence against women and children has become so common-place that we often fail to notice how prevalent it is in everyday behaviour. Women have become objectified, often seen as property, rather than living, warm human beings. It is now time to really become aware of how you too, maybe unconsciously, might be perpetuating the denigration of women. Sadly, whilst it seems to be becoming the norm, we know with certainty that such a norm is simply wrong. It must stop.
So, if you do want to become part of those contributing to change this state of affairs, start by becoming aware of your own unconscious ‘boy’ habits. Think of any young women you love dearly – like a daughter, sister or niece. Think of any mature women you hold with love and respect – like your mother, aunt, cousin, manager, colleague or public figure. Now, every time you swear, laugh at a sexist joke, or participate in some lewd comment about a woman, imagine that the target is one of the women you love. Then it becomes less easy to laugh.
Becoming a real man is about owning up to how you might also have contributed to demeaning women, and then standing up to encourage others to follow your more respectful example. Discourage your male friends doing this, show them a new way. Even small gestures can have a big impact on some woman or child’s future.
Safety tips for the holiday season
Holiday season is just around the corner; so, celebrate safely by observing these preventative tips:
- Ensure everyone has a safe ride home from a party. Leave no one behind.
- Take no risks – have an agreement before the party about what you and your girlfriends will and won’t do, and then hold each other to this. Do not let alcohol and fun inhibit your judgement. Guy friends can be included – care for each other.
- Be brave – resist the pressure to remain silent of being called a killjoy, party pooper, buzz kill or downer. Step up to support someone who is indeed trying to be brave.
- Say no to those apparently innocent games that you know are not really so innocent.
- When your gut says; ‘this is not ok’ – respond to that feeling and get out – or call out for help.
Safety tips to help you and your children
It may be that there is little you can do to change your situation right now; but fortunately, there are a number of ways to try and shield yourself from the violence. Every step you take can help you reduce its devastating impact and build your strength. Read this outstanding blog. It is brimming with safety ideas to help you and your children right now; – and with ways to help others by telling your story.
Building your strength with self-care
Sometimes, when you feel low, the thought of self-care just seems like yet another burden to carry. So, without putting pressure on yourself, quietly follow this link and check whether the excellent insights offered might ‘talk to you’. If so, follow your response.
Conflict and Health – volume 14, Article number: 57 (2020)
‘Evaluating the reliability and validity of secondary reporting to measure gender-based violence’ Published 6 August, 2020.