How many more women and children are going to be murdered by a partner/ boyfriend, husband or ex before the government and wider society begins to take the pandemic of male violence against women seriously and fund more work to prevent it from happening?
Let’s not be afraid to talk about this openly and call it what it is. Look at the stats and tell me it isn’t as big an issue as we think it is. It is, it’s as complex an issue as it is simple and I’ve wanted to write for the website on this subject for some time.
It isn’t enough to ask ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’ This shows how little we know and care to find out about the issue if our answer to it is to blame the victim. When will we begin to challenge the abuser and instead ask ‘Why doesn’t he stop?’
By the way, the use of the word ‘victim’ is insulting to the strength and endurance of survivors who are all too aware that to leave will place themselves and their children at greater risk of harm from this man. Women are at greater risk from their abusive partners after they have left a relationship and they know this because they live with the threats.
When women have children with men, can they ever be free of them if they do leave the relationship because courts often support the rights of abusive men to have contact with their children.
By the way, the abuser starts out as charming, they don’t show their abusive behaviour from the off. Instead they select a partner who is appealing to them. Often women who are kind, gentle, caring and forgiving as these women are the easiest to dominate and abuse. They only begin to show this behaviour after the woman is in some way trapped. They might be married, have children, in some way be enmeshed financially, it’s no longer as easy as just getting up and walking out. And let’s be clear, men are choosing to behave in this way because it gets them what they want. They can choose to change it too.
Let’s also remember that our society disempowers women routinely and empowers men and so many women don’t recognise behaviour as abusive when they first experience it because as women many of us have been conditioned from birth to be quiet, kind, gentle and compliant.
I demand that all men take responsibility for their behaviour and call out inappropriate behaviour when they see it amongst friends, peers, colleagues and family members. It’s about time men grow the courage to stand up and say they are done with having to conform to what it means to be a man too. We all have the ability to reflect on our behaviour and it’s long overdue.
Our government and wider society have enabled a patriarchal system where men are continually excused for all kinds of poor behaviour and treated as though they have special rights. In careers where men still earn more and where women still feel the pressure to do the lion’s share of the parenting and house work as well as having a career and where men are exonerated for being good fathers if they do the school run, change a nappy or juggle the food shop with the kids in tow. If these are their own children, it’s not babysitting, it’s parenting why should the woman be expected to do it all just because they are a woman? A man raising his children as a single father is held up in society and receives respect and women are routinely looked down upon and considered ‘less than’ when they are single parents.
Could it be that there is a belief that it is somehow the woman’s fault that she became a single parent?
I believe so, the continual undermining of women and abuse of women as objects that exists for others is extremely damaging to how men view women and to women themselves.
Men, stand with women as our equals, let’s all look at ourselves and let’s all move forward respecting each other, building on our individual strengths and shrug off these out of date gender norms.
I write empowerment programmes for girls and women, to raise awareness of abuse so that women can recognise the signs. Please email me for more details.