Monday, November 25, was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women – but is it really a concern?
Yes. Violence against women is a rampant issue in our society that we need to address. Abuse against women can be physical, sexual, spiritual, financial, emotional, verbal, or stalking. It happens to women of all socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, cultural, and age groups.
Gender inequality influences society and leads us to believe, both overtly and covertly, that men have more power than women. This commonly leads to the false belief that men, therefore, have a right to control women.
Here are some shocking Canadian statistics:
- In Canada, a woman is killed by her partner every six days.
- Women are at a 20% higher risk of violent victimization than men.
- Women with a disability are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted.
- LGBTQ+ women are 3.5 times more likely to report abuse than heterosexual women.
- Indigenous women are 3 times more likely to be victims of spousal violence than non-indigenous women.
- 8 in 10 victims of intimate partner homicides are women.
- 70% of people who experience family violence are women and girls.
- Over 3,000 women and children sleep in shelters every night because their home is not safe, many are turned away because of overcapacity.
- Women 18 – 24 are most likely to experience the most severe forms of cyber abuse, including stalking, harassment, and threats.
- Women 15 – 24 make up nearly half (47%) of reported sexual assault incidents.
- 64% of battered women experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“If women are being abused, why don’t they leave the relationship?”
Many women are threatened if they try to leave and the most dangerous time for a woman being abused is when she tries to leave the relationship. Over 25% of women murdered by their spouse had already left the relationship. Women are six times more likely to be killed by an ex-partner than a current partner. Nearly 60% of dating violence occurs when the relationship has ended.
Women also stay for financial reasons because they are financially dependent on their partner. More than 1.5 million women in Canada live on a low income. Women are much more likely to be poor when attempting to raise a child on their own than if they had stayed with their partner.
Abuse is also often a gradual process, with the violence slowly increasing over time. It can take years for women to realize that the violence is not going to stop as abusers often act remorseful afterwards and make promises to change. Long-term abuse can diminish victims’ self-esteem, leading them to believe that they deserve the abuse they’re receiving.
What is being done?
Addressing this issue is even in the government’s economic interests: taxpayers pay $7.4 billion a year to deal with the aftermath of partner violence.
Research also shows that working towards resolving gender inequality benefits everyone in society because it creates more stable and peaceful societies and contributes to economic growth.
What can I do?
You can volunteer or donate to organizations that support victims of abuse, such as the Canadian Women’s Foundation, or local organizations as listed below. You can write to your government representatives to let them know how much this crisis matters to you as a constituent. Overall, as a society, we need to change our thinking and eradicate gender inequality.
If someone ever discloses to you that they are currently a victim of abuse, proceed cautiously for their safety. Do not talk about the abuse in front of the abuser and do not provide materials about the abuse that could be discovered by the abuser.
It is important to speak up, but it needs to be done safely. Do not offer to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Make sure you listen if they want to talk, but if they do not want to, just let them know that you care about their safety, they do not deserve to be abused, and ask what you can do to help. It is also important to believe victims of abuse when they confide in you because
There are so many aspects of gender-based violence to consider, but the main point is that violence against women that needs to be addressed at both individual and government levels to provide a safer society for everyone.
If you are or know someone who is a victim of abuse, please use these resources in the Saint John area.
If urgent, always call 9-1-1.
Hestia House: 634-7570
Sexual Assault Response Team: 632-5758
Domestic Violence Outreach: 632-5616/649-2580
Police (Non-Emergency): SJ: 648-3200, KV: 847-6300
Social Development: 1-866-441-4340