I recently saw a headline saying that awareness is the key to eliminating domestic violence. Certainly awareness helps, but don’t we need more than that?
This is the time of year for resolutions. One of mine is to do more than become aware of the statistics about domestic violence or the stories about how violence against women cuts across all demographics and all nations. It is time for me – and I hope you – to take some action that results in fewer incidents in my own community, if not worldwide.
Violence against women certainly isn’t a new problem and, fortunately, there are more ways to address it than there were 36 years ago when A Women’s Place (AWP) was started. Now, there are more – and better funded – programs, services, legal processes, and shelters than there were in 1976. But, unfortunately, regardless of the headlines, far too many incidents are reported every day. And the resources are never enough to restore victims’ physical and mental health and economic well-being.
Perhaps, that’s where the greatest change has occurred. While often embarrassed or ashamed, victims are now more likely to report and seek help, and the legal system is more open to seeing violence for what it is. And, it is encouraging to read that attitudes about domestic violence are changing for the better.
But, altering the way we think isn’t enough. That puts too much of the burden on victims and not enough on the rest of us to create the change we know is needed.
I believe it is time for women and men to stand up and say, “No more.” No more tolerance for an angry interlude where a woman is shot or stabbed; no more patience with young bullies “proving” their manhood by ganging up on an innocent girl; no more children hearing their mothers threatened or beaten for standing up for them.
That’s the story that 1 Billion Rising will carry worldwide on February 14 when it calls on people everywhere to strike, dance and rise in opposition to violence against women and girls.
I hope you’ll join me in this action and commit to doing what it takes to stop violence against women throughout the world. The time has come for more than awareness. It’s time to break the chain of violence.
AWP Co-Founding Mother