Sharing is caring!

This is a difficult topic, for many reasons. And it is also a topic that is widely talked about and researched. Just google violence against women and you will find a plethora of information about it. This blog post though won’t be one of them, but it will be about the steps we can take to fight violence against women in a way that feels accessible and possible to us. Fighting for injustices and abuse can be tiring and overwhelming, so why not tap into what we already know and have and use it to support us and others at the same time?

What is violence against women?

According to the United Nations Organisation, violence against women is described as:

“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 deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

This phenomenon though is much more complex than this paragraph shows. Not only does it affect different areas of our lives, from intimate relationships to our cultural habits and norms. It also intersects with other forms of oppression and injustice.

The following steps will hopefully help break down how we can contribute to fighting violence against women, by offering different angles and strategies aimed at tackling the depth and extent of the phenomenon from a place of safety and strength.

Steps to fight violence against women

Fighting violence against women can be tiring and can stretch us to the point of breaking us. We need to do things to protect ourselves. This series of questions can help you to figure out what you can do from your place of comfort, utilising your resource to bring change. 

1. It starts with you 

This is true for any area of our life. Why not utilise what we already have to fight violence against women? Most times, we look for answers and resources outside of us, forgetting that what we may already be enough. And by doing so, we also ensure that we act from a place of strength (we are solid in our resources) and safety (we know where we stand and where we stand is secure). 

  • Think about your own resources: what can you use to fight violence against women? Is it the knowledge you have about a specific topic? Or you know people or services who could make a tangible contribution to the cause? Is it about skills you have?
  • Who are the people in your life (colleagues, friends, partner(s), peers) you could openly and honestly talk to about this topic? If it feels difficult and uncomfortable, do you have a sense of why so? What are the things you could put in place to make it easier to talk about this topic?
  • What are the places in your life that foster conversations around violence against women that feel supportive and non-oppressive? What is making these spaces that way? Can you recreate those conditions elsewhere?
  • What power, privilege, or advantages that you enjoy that you could leverage in service of the movement?

2. Learn about boundaries and consent

Why learn about boundaries? Boundary-crossing can happen and when repair occurs it can be growthful for the people involved. It can teach us about respect and the importance of listening to the people around us and, most importantly ourselves. When there is no repair or intention to repair, boundary-crossing is a form of abuse. Learning about setting our boundaries and respecting the ones of others can be the first step. 

In this framework, consent allows us to ask others if we are crossing their boundaries and it also creates a safe space where said others can share what their boundaries are and how to respect them. It is the core of healthy relationships and trust-building. 

  • What boundaries do you have in place concerning your physical space?

  • What boundaries do you have in place concerning your emotional space?

  • What boundaries do you have in place concerning your finances?

  • What boundaries do you have in place concerning your body?

  • What boundaries do you have in place concerning your belongings?

  • What boundaries do you have in place concerning your privacy?

  • How safe do you feel to create those boundaries? Do you have a sense of why this is so?

  • How do you approach other people’s physical and emotional space, finances, body and belongings?

  • Do you assume boundaries in others?

  • How do you ask about others’ boundaries?

  • Do you assume consent is a given?

  • How do you ask for consent?

  • What things do you put in place to ensure the other person feels comfortable and safe enough to disagree with you?

  • What things do you put in place to ensure the other person feels comfortable and safe enough to say no to you?

3. Learn how to be intimate

We learn about intimacy from patriarchy and pornography, with almost no space on mainstream channels to educate and explore the different facets of intimacy. This means that there is rarely space for discourses around pleasure, respect and mutuality, or intimacy in non-monogamous and LGBTQI+ relationships. There is a need to move away from harmful gender norms and relations and this can be done through education and learning from one another. Here you are some questions to explore this further:

  • When and where did you learn about the quality of intimacy? Was it through books, your peers, the school system or someone else in your life?

  • If you think back to when you learnt about the quality of intimacy, do you feel like something was missing? If so, what would that be?

  • Do you talk to your immediate support network about intimacy? If you do, how do you talk about it? If you don’t, what is getting in the way for you to talk about intimacy?

4. Stop victim-blaming and start believing survivors

Victim-blaming occurs when the victim of a crime (or any wrongful act, for that matter) is considered to be responsible for said crime. Furthermore, there is a belief that the victim could have done something, anything, to prevent becoming the victim of a crime (or wrongful act). Dr Jessica Taylor has written beautifully about this matter and for an in-depth understanding of this phenomenon, I would point you at her work on her website. 

  • Do you ever find yourself wondering if the victim of a crime could have done something different to prevent said crime? If so, what is your reasoning behind it?

  • If you notice that you may at times hold the victim of a crime responsible for what happened to them, do you think it happens for every crime? Or does it happen to crimes of a specific nature?

5. Involve men

Fighting violence against women is not a women-only business. We need men too. And there are many ways men can be involved in this, by starting breaking stereotypes about gendered roles in the household, in childcare and housework. It is about learning that it is ok to talk about feeling and the importance of creating an environment that fosters that. Fighting violence against women requires men to hold other men’s accountable if they notice said violence happening not only in their close networks but also in workspace and leisure facilities (As we are here, why not check out That Guy Campaign about this topic?).

6. Learn how different forms of oppression are affecting women 

And I don’t mean only gendered issues. I am asking you to consider violence against women from an intersectional stance.

Seeing violence against women under an intersectional lens will help us broaden our understanding of the why’s this is happening to them and focus on how we can fight it. 

Why is this important? By understanding how different forms of oppression affect women (or anyone who is oppressed, for that matter), we will develop understanding and empathy. This will also support you to question assumptions around gender roles and identities.

  • How does violence against women look for women from a minority or black community?

  • How does violence against women look for women with a disability?

  • How does violence against women look for elderly and younger women?

  • How does violence against women look for trans women? 

  • How does violence against women look for women of faith?

  • How does violence against women look for women from the LGBTQI+ community?

  • How does violence against women look for women from lower socio-economic backgrounds?

7. Activism

Every time we think of a cause and what it needs to support it, we immediately think of activism. And this can look quite tiring for many people and especially for those who are crushed by what the cause is fighting against. But if you are here and ready to dedicate your energies and resources to a more structured type of activism, then the following questions may guide you in your search. 

  • Are there any local activist group fighting violence against women?

  • Are there any local agencies/ associations/ charities that are fighting violence against women?

  • Are you in a position to volunteer your time and resources for your local group or organisation?

  • Are you in a position to contribute financially to one of these groups or organisations?

  • Are you in a position to create a group within your community or working space with the scope to fight violence against women?

  • What do you need to connect to a more strutted form of activism? What resources do you need to make that step?

Conclusions

Fighting violence against women is complex and requires much more than a day or two a year to remind us of this. It can be tiresome, frustrating and at times overwhelming and our energy levels may fluctuate and don’t allow us to be there 100% all the time. But activism takes many forms and can be done from the comfort of our close circle (as suggested in the steps above). 

I truly believe that every little step matters and that we can only build on top of what generations of women before us did. 

If you feel like this is affecting you and you would like to look at this further, you can contact me to discuss the possibility of working together. My email address is counselling.francesca@gmail.com

Sharing is caring!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *