Somewhere in the world, right now, a man is hitting a woman. And that woman is unable to reach for help. Abuse is a fact, a sad reality that reaches every corner on Earth, every social class, and annually ends with the life of 5.000 women worldwide (eight times more than terrorism!). It is a global problem that calls for global actions too. The United Nations General Assembly has defined “violence against women” as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
As for myself, I have known a few women who were physically abused. Actually one of them was only a girl! She was around 15, and in the middle of a fight her boyfriend broke her thumb, but she managed to put it on her father’s fault somehow. I can’t remember very well since it was so long ago. The thing is, nobody knew what really happened except us, her friends. We were just a couple of kids back then, we tried to comfort her and told her she should break it up with such an abusive guy, but she wouldn’t listen… Even though he would beat her up, she would still go back to him, and she was known to only end up with abusive men for some reason (and the ones that spend most of their time in jail too). I hated the guy just for that. Some men think they own women!
How does the man manages for the woman he has just hit to stay with him, and not going straight to the police as most of us would do? And abusive man is a manipulator of the first kind. He has enough intelligence and power to make the woman believe it was because he loves her that he gets that mad. Sometimes, beating is justified because of jealousy. Some other times, he makes promises that it will never happen again, until it does (and again and again). But they can’t persuade just any kind of woman. The woman who is likely to fall in the hands of an abusive man has low self-esteem. She has probably been abused as a child, or neglected by her parents. She is in the need of love and protection, and the abusive man seems so strong at first… But it is important for societies to educate both men and women to put an end to the horrors of violence against women.
There was another case, a friend of mine, who was living with this guy. Before moving in together, he used to insult her verbally, but according to her “he didn’t actually mean it, he was just very cranky”. After moving in together, things got worse. He began to insult her in front of her friends, he would disappear for a couple of nights without calling her or giving her explanations, and after he came back, when she asked for reasons, he would just laugh in her face. When they argue –which was increasingly often- he would smash plates against the wall, or spill the glasses of water on the floor, or even kick the furniture. When I spoke to my friend, she said she wasn’t going to break it, because, since he was not technically beating her up, she didn’t consider he was ‘abusive’. But the fact is she was suffering a lot! Eventually, he dumped her for another girl, and she got into therapy. Now she is dating a kind guy who really cares for her.
That reminds me of something I wanted to mention earlier. When you read the definition of the UN, you can easily realize that the concept of ‘abuse’ is not limited to punches and bruises. A man who insults a woman, a man who denigrates the person in front of him, a man who deprives a woman of her freedom to work, or to wear the clothes she wants, or to go out with friends, is also committing abuse. Jealousy does no equal love. And even if a man was jealous, nothing justifies being abusive, when us human beings can solve problems by talking!
What should abusive women do? First of all, it is important that they admit to themselves that there is something wrong. He can’t beat you more than once. The first time it may come as a shock, but you should never give the guy a second chance. ASK-FOR-HELP! Talk to your friends and family, go to the police, or contact a support group: for example, Abusedwomen.org (http://www.abusedwomen.org/resources.html), BWSS (http://www.bwss.org/) or Strengthen our Sisters (http://www.strengthenoursisters.org/support_group.html), to name a few.
If you know a woman who is in this situation, be sympathetic. She is not being abused because she wants to, but because she can’t help it. You can talk to her and try to persuade her to ask for help, but she is the one who will finally have to make a decision to change her life. Otherwise, she will leave an abusive man only to fall in love with another, and so on.
If you, who are reading this, find yourself in this terrible situation, don’t despair. There is a lot that can be done. Things can change, if you make them change. Remember: no matter what he says, it’s NOT your fault. He is being abusive, and he has no reason to beat you up, or to call you names whatsoever. You are a precious human being and you should be with someone who loves you for what you really are, and would be hanged before raising his arm against you.
What do you think about this topic? What can we all do, as a society, to put an end to violence against women? Should governments take more direct actions? Have you ever known a woman in this situation? If so, were you able to help her some way?