“’Was he physical?’ I wonder if they are imagining what my face would look like black and blue. I know they are asking for proof that my relationship was, by popular definition, abusive and then they want to know why I stayed. The truth is that the few times he hit me were tiny blips on a long timeline of subtle manipulation, public humiliation, controlling behavior and gas lighting.”
Every hour of every day, a woman in Alberta is a victim of some form of violence by a current or an ex-partner or an ex-spouse. Violence against women is an epidemic, affecting more than one-third of all women globally. In Canada, we know that one in two women have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. This means, that you likely know a woman who has experienced some form of violence.
This statistic is shocking, but it only captures part of what domestic abuse survivors can and often endure. Media has created an environment where many think the only kind of abuse that exists is physical abuse. This is reinforced through the sensationalism of violence in movies, television shows and news stories. What we often forget is that domestic abuse can include any combination of emotional abuse, financial abuse, sexual abuse, spiritual abuse, psychological abuse, gaslighting, stalking, harassment, controlling behaviour and physical violence.
Violence against women is about power. Perpetrators use power to control, dominate or force compliance. Violence against women is a reflection of social norms, gender roles, social and political institutions that normalize and legitimize violence against women. Gender-based violence stems from a society that is not equal and that continues to send messages that it’s natural for men to have more power than women.
We know that domestic abuse is on the rise and approximately 70 per cent of spousal violence is unreported. We know that gender-based violence is reaching staggeringly high levels in Calgary. We know that violence against women is happening in every community, every neighbourhood and at every income level. In 2016, Calgary saw a 36 per cent increase, over a five year average in domestic violence calls, representing the highest rate since 2004.
Violence against women is something that we all have a role in ending and preventing. Women and men who participate in YW WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES® continue the work to create a community where women who have experienced violence and abuse can begin to heal and feel empowered to rebuild their lives. As we prepare for YW’s 12th annual WALK A MILE IN HER SHOES® event, we are reminded of the ongoing need to speak up and speak out to end violence against women. Now is the time for you to stand up and speak out against abuse and violence, register or donate today at www.walkamile.ca
We are all accountable to create a safe environment in which women and girls can thrive.