October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the United States. It’s November in Canada. I don’t know why the difference, but it lends itself to me writing about it for the next few weeks. In the U.S. statistics say that three out of four people know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. In Canada half of all women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence. Of course, abuse against children and men is despicable, I am writing herein about the abuse women experience from men – only because that has been my personal experience.
Each year in Canada 40,000 arrests are a result of domestic violence. That’s 12% of all violent crime. So if you consider that 70% of spousal abuse is never reported to the police (Statistics Canada) the true numbers are much higher. It’s pandemic and we’re not doing much about it.
The cost of violence against women in Canada for health care, criminal justice, social services, and lost wages and productivity has been calculated at $4.2 billion per year. Basically, we’re paying for the aftermath rather than putting our dollars into prevention. Lots of money and effort have been put into awareness: Articles have been written, websites created, campaigns launched. And yet our society fails at the real change required. What can you do?
- Be aware and speak up. Take notice of what goes on around you. Just like on the TV show, “What Would You Do?” – intervene when you see a situation where someone is being sexist, dominant, or abusive. In our polite society, we have a tendency to not get involved, but you might just be teaching someone a lesson or at least shining the light on how poorly they’re behaving.
- Learn the signs of abuse. It starts with control. Do you know anyone whose partner manages all of the money? Do you know a woman whose husband tells her how to dress or won’t let her go out with her girlfriends? Google domestic violence and abuse and read about the signs.
- We can all start by raising our children differently than we have in the past. Make sure your little girls have interests other than princess movies where the damsel in distress needs a prince to come and rescue her. Make sure your little boys have interests other than playing games that involve a lot of destruction. Get them interested in nature and teach them kindness.
- Vote for political candidates whose platform includes women’s rights, equality and feminism.
Our world will only be a better place for our children and grandchildren if we lead the way.