The right to live free from violence is an essential human right. However gender-based violence persists in every nation of the world and affects particularly women and girls of all ages and backgrounds.
Regardless of some progress, the numbers are still startling and the stories agonizing: more than 1/3 of women worldwide have experienced some kind of physical violence; one in 10 young girls less than 18 years old has been raped; and although 125 countries have criminalized domestic violence, usually these laws are not enforced. In regions damaged by conflict and religious and political turmoil, women and girls confront systematic rape and kidnappings. Additionally they are routinely subjected to violence with the excuse of tradition through hurtful practices including marriage in a very young age, honor killings, dowry murders, and female genital mutilation (abbrev. FGM).
Your partner or another family member abuses you physically, emotionally, sexually or even financially. It can happen once or it might be repeated abuse, most often it is a pattern of behavior. If you are feeling intimidated by or frightened of your family member or partner to the extent where you feel the need to change your behavior you are probably experiencing domestic violence.
Includes sexual assault, child sexual abuse, any form of sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation, prostitution and rape. Whenever it took place, more than once or as a single incident, if it’s without your consent and will it’s not acceptable.
I am being abused?
Recognizing that you are being mishandled is critical step. You may feel you require time to consider your situation. Then again maybe you have already decided to leave. Whatever your decision, your wellbeing and safety is always the priority.
In the case you are being abused it is vital to remember:
- You are not alone.
- Domestic and sexual violence is illegal.
- Don’t blame yourself. You are not responsible for your abuser’s behavior.
- There are ways to protect yourself.
- Talk to your friends and family to seek for support.
- Nowadays there are numerous organizations and centers who are here to help you, some of them you might not imagine exists. (24 hr domestic violence helplines for women, supporting sexual violence services, Helplines for children and young people. Centers for young survivors of domestic violence. For male victims of domestic & sexual violence. For Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) victims of domestic & sexual violence)Search for their help lines according to your country and always have the most important numbers at hand
- In crises or emergencies call the police on 112 (If you are located in the EU)
Keep Yourself Safe
Once the relationship has ended
Sadly, domestic violence and abuse might not end even though the relationship has been ended. In order to enhance your safety we recommend:
- Inform the people you trust, be that friends or relatives, tell them that you have ended the relationship and advise them to call the police in case they see your ex-partner (or family member) near or trying to access your home.
- Change locks on all doors and ensure that all windows and entryways are as secure as can be.
- Install additional security – sensor lighting or burglar alarm
- Don’t take the same route you used to, to take your kids to school.
- Inform people who look after them eg, teachers, instructors, childminders etc, of the persons who have permission to collect them. In case you have an injunction, provide a duplicate to the school.
- Change your telephone number and when you are at work ask your colleagues to screen your calls.
- Change your usual schedule i.e. shop in different place/store at various times and take an alternate course home and so on.
Your emotional wellbeing and safety
- If you’re considering of returning to a possibly violent and abusive situation, talk through an alternative plan with a person you trust or a special domestic violence service.
- In case you have to communicate with the (ex) partner, determine the most secure approach to do so. If you have to meet with them make sure the meeting takes place in a public place.
- Be assertive about your needs and have positive thoughts about yourself.
- Get support from a special association or domestic violence service
- Decide who you can speak to openly that could give you the support you need
- Exercise regularly and take care of yourself