White Ribbon Day

Gender-based abuse is a huge issue that affects all corners of the globe, in all manner of different ways.

25th November is the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women, otherwise known as White Ribbon Day.

woman with hand over face

by Edward Bromilow

In 1991, a group of Canadian men decided that, as men, they had a responsibility to speak out against male violence towards women and get others to join them by wearing a white ribbon. The ribbon acts as a pledge not to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. The wearing of these ribbons is encouraged annually on 25th November, the International Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women. For further information, visit the White Ribbon Campaign UK website.

Now, you may be thinking, ‘what has this got to do with me?’. Domestic abuse involves us all. It can happen to any of us, at any time, and is not affected by age, ethnicity or nationality. At some point in our lives, one in six men and one in four women will experience some form of domestic abuse.

Worldwide, domestic violence is the largest single cause of death in women aged 19 to 44 – bigger than war or cancer. On average, two women are murdered by their current or former partner each week in the UK. In Rhonnda Cynon Taff (our fair county), an estimated 12,000 families are affected by domestic abuse.

But what is domestic abuse? Welsh Women’s Aid defines it as “the actual or threatened physical, emotional, psychological, sexual or financial abuse of a person by a partner, family member or someone with whom there is, or has been, a close relationship”.

The stereotype surrounding domestic abuse is that it consists only of physical abuse. Of course, physical abuse does happen, but it is only one head of a many-headed monster. Other forms of abuse are just as real, just as important, just as dangerous. There is no ‘lesser’ form of domestic abuse – to pretend that there is perpetuates the taboos and stereotypes that already surround domestic abuse, and make victims reluctant to speak out and seek support. This might go some way towards explaining why victims are assaulted 35 times on average before they call the police.

Abuse is not caused by financial pressure, drink, work stress or anything else. An abusive relationship is about power and control – the abuse is a symptom of this type of relationship, not the cause. An abusive partner will be abusive, regardless of personal circumstances.

But maybe you are still wondering what this has got to do with you, an up-and-coming student about town … perhaps you might consider it surprising that a study carried out by Amnesty International on the opinions of university students in Wales (including our own beloved University of Glamorgan!) towards violence against women found that:

  • 62% of students know women whose boyfriends or partners have hit them
  • 41% of students know women whose boyfriends or partners have coerced or pressurised them into sex.

So potentially, a great many of you reading this now will know someone who has fallen into either of those groups, or you are even a victim yourself.

Domestic abuse is happening, in our towns and streets, in our homes and communities. Men, women, children, young and old, rural and urban … domestic abuse can affect any one of us. One instance of domestic abuse is one too many.

As a shocking Women’s Aid advert starring Keira Knightly so aptly puts it, we live in a country where two women die every week from domestic violence: CUT: Isn’t it time someone called cut?.

Change is happening and there is always hope, as cheesy as that sounds. We may never completely stamp out domestic abuse, but we can certainly try. We may not be a part of the problem, but we can be a part of the solution. So join with me this November 25th when I pledge that my hands are not for hurting and that I will never commit, condone or remain silent about domestic abuse or violence against women. If you are interested in this issue, I would heartily encourage you to get involved with Amnesty International and other similar groups who are doing good work in this area out in the wide world.

Help and support

If you or someone you know is affected by domestic abuse there is plenty of help and support available, for male and female victims of domestic abuse.

You can contact:

  • Welsh National Domestic Abuse Helpline (freephone): 0808 80 10 800
  • The Domestic Safety Unit in Ponypridd: 01443 494190.

In an emergency, you should always call 999.

If you wish to report a crime that is not an emergency, you can contact the police on their non-emergency number: 101.

If you’d like to get more involved with the issue of domestic abuse in the local area, you can contact one of the three Women’s Aid groups in the local area for more information:

  • Pontypridd: 01443 491528
  • Rhondda: 01445 731445
  • Cwm Cynon: 01685 879673.

Features on Glamlife

You may have noticed articles similar to this one appearing on Glamlife in recent weeks. You can find an overview of all features here: http://glamlife.glam.ac.uk/features

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