It’s time to get real about how we talk about violence against women. As December rolls around, bringing with it significant days like the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women and the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, we’re faced with a stark reminder: our conversations on this topic are often too passive, too clinical. Let’s talk about it – actively, honestly, and humanely.
The Issue with “Passive” Talk
Think about how often you’ve heard or read something like “a woman was attacked” in the news. It sounds distant, almost as if it just happened out of nowhere. But let’s be clear – there’s an active force behind these actions, a person who made a choice to inflict harm. By saying “She suffered domestic abuse,” we’re leaving out the most critical part of the story: “He committed domestic abuse.” This isn’t just about picking the right words; it’s about facing the harsh reality of who is doing the harm and holding them accountable.
Understanding the Roots and the Perpetrators
Violence against women isn’t just something that happens. It’s caused by real people and fueled by deep-seated issues like gender inequality, cultural norms that see women as less, and a justice system that sometimes feels like it’s not doing enough. Roughly 1 in 3 women globally have experienced physical or sexual violence – and behind every assault is a perpetrator.
In order to move away from passive language, we have to openly talk about who commits abuse. Unfortunately, it’s surprisingly difficult to get data about perpetrators rather than victims, and even the data about perpetrators is often framed in terms of the victim. Here’s what’s available:
- About 60% of perpetrators of childhood sexual abuse are nonrelative acquaintances, such as a friend of the family, babysitter, or neighbor.
- Roughly 30% of those who sexually abuse children are relatives of the child, such as fathers, uncles, or cousins.
- Strangers are perpetrators in about 10% of child sexual abuse cases.
- Men are found to be perpetrators in most cases of childhood sexual abuse cases, regardless of whether the victim is a boy or a girl. Women are found to be perpetrators in about 14% of cases reported against boys and about 6% of cases reported against girls.
- A majority of intimate partner physical abuse is committed by dating partners rather than spouses.
- 40% of female murder victims are killed by intimate partners.
- 9.4% of women in the United States have been raped by an intimate partner.
- 1 in 3 female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by intimate partners.
- A study of intimate partner homicides found 20% of victims were family members or friends of the abused partner, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders.
- 72% of all murder-suicides are perpetrated by intimate partners.
- 95% of men who physically abuse their intimate partners also psychologically abuse them.
So, What Can We Do About It?
Let’s talk about what we can actually do to tackle violence against women. It’s a big issue, and it needs action from all angles:
Tougher Laws, Stronger Enforcement: First up, we’ve got to beef up our laws. They need to be really solid so that anyone who harms women doesn’t just slip through the cracks. It’s about making sure the punishment fits the crime and that the legal system actually does its job.
Education is Key: You know how they say change starts at home? Well, it also starts in the classroom. If we teach our kids early on about respect, consent, and equality, we’re setting the stage for a more respectful future. It’s about molding attitudes while they’re still malleable.
Support for Survivors: Healing from trauma isn’t easy or quick. We need to make sure those who’ve suffered get all the help they need, be it counseling, legal aid, or a safe place to stay. It’s about giving them a hand to hold as they walk the tough road to recovery.
Community Action: This one’s on us, folks. We’ve got to be the eyes and ears in our neighborhoods. If we see something off, we need to step up, not step back. It’s about looking out for each other and creating communities where violence just doesn’t fly.
Keep Researching: Finally, we need to keep digging into why this violence happens. The more we understand it, the better we can stop it. Knowledge is power, and in this case, it could be the power to save lives.
The bottom line: combating violence against women is a mix of law, education, community, support, and knowledge. If we all pull together, we can make a real difference. Let’s get to it!
It’s About Taking Action
Days like the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women are more than just anniversaries. They’re opportunities for us to stand up, speak out, and push for change. They remind us of the women we’ve lost and the fight we still have in front of us.
As we mark these important days, let’s not just talk about violence against women – let’s do something about it. We need to move from just reporting these incidents to actively working to prevent them. This is about creating a world where women are safe, respected, and free from fear. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.