11 Things You Can Do To End Violence Against Women
1) It’s a men’s issue: Violence against women is not a woman’s issue, it’s also a men’s issue that involves men of all ages, socioeconomic, racial and ethnical background. There are many men who are allies and empowered bystanders who can help confront abusers and/or support efforts in raising awareness on violence against women.
2) Break the silence: When you are ready, tell others your stories about survival; this can help others share their stories thus reducing the shame associated with abuse. If you are aware of abuse in a relationship, don’t look the other way. If you are comfortable in doing so, confront the abuser, encourage him to get help and if you don’t know what to do, seek support from someone you trust or a professional.
3) Listen to women: When a woman discloses about violence in her life, listen and believe her. It is extremely rare for women to make up stories about being a bused or raped and you may be the first person she has tells. Believe her and support her decisions, without being judgemental, even if she chooses to stay with the abuser. She may not be ready to leave.
4) Heal the violence in your own life: Many of us are survivors of abuse in some way and many of us fear becoming a victim of violence. If you are emotionally, psychologically, physically or sexually abused, get help. Get counselling or join a support group. If you are abusive to women, in any way, get help now. There are many counselling services available to men that can help you.
5) Make violence your business: Some of us tend to have this belief that violence is a private thing and we should not be asking questions about other people’s business or relationships – especially when there is trouble. If you suspect violence in a home or if someone is being abused, ask them. Looking the other way will not help end violence against women. They may not tell you right away but your concern may show them you are someone they can trust. If you need extra support in support someone who is being abused, call your local women’s shelter or crisis line.
6) Raise non-violent children: Talk to your children about abuse and violence. Help them find non-violent ways to solve conflicts and encourage co-operative and non-violent play. Don’t use violence as punishments.
7) Support initiatives that promote women’s equality: Women make up the majority of victims of abuse. Get involved in your community’s rallies or awareness campaigns on ending violence. Help raise money so we can continue to our prevention work or volunteer in an organization working to end violence against women.
8) Challenge sexism: Media often portray women as sexual objects and often use images of violence against women to sell products. Websites, music, movies, even books often describe and portray women in a sexual degrading or abusive manner. This is not OK. Challenge those statements by talking about the realities of women. Challenge gender roles.
9) Encourage people who are abusing to get help: Without being judgemental, let them know their behaviour isn’t acceptable and that there are professionals and support groups that can help them overcome their aggressive behaviours.
10) Educate yourself and take leadership: Learn more about abuse, the signs of abuse, gender inequalities, and the root causes of abuse. Then take that information and educate boys and girls, men and women about abuse.
11) Remember: Participate in acts of remembrance for victims of violence. Celebrate survival.