Violence. We know it when you see it. We know it when we feel it. Right? Well, most of the time. Violence goes beyond the physical – way beyond. So, to be clear, according to Merriam Webster, this is what violence is:
1 - the use of physical force so as to injure, abuse, damage, or destroy
2 - injury by or as if by distortion, infringement, or profanation: outrage
Violence against women and girls comes in many forms. Most are blatant and obvious – rape, sexual abuse, physical battering, genital mutilation, being sold and trafficked for prostitution or domestic slavery. Others are not so obvious – the kind of “wholesale” violence we as women encounter on a daily basis: verbal abuse, from cat calling to being told we’re not as good, or worse, worthless; media and imagery abuses, how we “need” to look or behave – sexually and otherwise.
Violence against girls and women is escalating. Not too long ago, it was 1 in 4 women who would personally experience violence in their lifetime. Now it’s 1 in 3. And it’s not just elsewhere, places far from our “advanced” society, but right here in the good ‘ol USA; right here in the Bay Area. Most recently, officers in our local Oakland police force were found guilty of having sex over a period of more than two years with an adolescent sex worker. Then there’s our commander in chief who thinks it’s ok to grab a woman by her genitalia. That kind of messaging spells entitlement and entitlement linked with intense emotion leads to violence against those they feel entitled to perpetrate it on.
If that’s not enough to get your attention, cause outrage and make you want to act, one last thought on why violence against women and girls matters – needs to matter to all of us:
When researching statistics for this piece, each site pulled up, from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence to Safe Horizons, had, in the corner of the computer screen, an alert box that read, “Quick Exit…” or “Quick Escape…”. It didn’t immediately dawn on me why that was there, what that was for or even who it was meant for. Until it did.
An image flashed in my mind’s eye: a terrified, battered, violated woman, stealing away in a moment of clarity and courage to find help; to get resources to escape a dire situation; to find a way out. The fact that this was a thing, a quick escape button from a website, and that a woman seeking help would need an escape from that too – just in case her abuser walked in – sickened me. This has got to stop.
Let’s make this granting cycle our How Women Give rally cry! Help stop the violence against our sisters…stop the violence against us. Yes, US, all of us. Because if violence hasn’t touched you or yours up till now, it’s just a matter of statistics.