The truth about violence against women today

The past year has been a monumental one when it comes to opening up the lines of communication about abuse in the media. While normally rape and sexual violence wouldn’t be an everyday office topic, it became mainstream as we discussed everything from campus rape to the issue of consent when it comes to BDSM. The conversation is of special importance today, on November 25, which is the United Nation’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Whether sexual, psychological or physical, most women have been touched by violence or know someone close to them who has. According to the UN, 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence, and 2.6 billion girls and women live in countries where marital rape isn’t criminalized.

Maureen Adams, director of advocacy and communications at YWCA Toronto, offers this advice to those in abusive relationships: always trust your instincts, don’t blame yourself, you’re not alone and talk to someone you trust. “You need to learn about a safety or exit plan,” she says. “You need to know the supports that are available in your community.

Sadly, Adams says, “Half of the women are ashamed and they blame themselves, and some people have reached out to a friend or family member and haven’t been believed. If that happens, you just don’t stop until someone will hear you, listen to you, believe you and help you get the support you need.”

Harmy Mendoza, executive director from the Women’s Abuse Network of Toronto, cites some of the signs to look for if you, or someone you know, is in an abusive relationship (she referenced these from the Neighbours, Friends and Families Campaign and keep in mind to treat the pronouns as placeholders):

1. He puts her down
2. He does all the talking and dominates the conversation
3. He checks up on her all the time, even at work
4. He tries to suggest he is the victim and acts depressed
5. He tries to keep her away from you
6. He acts as if he owns her
7. He lies to make himself look good or exaggerates his good qualities
8. He acts like he is superior and of more value than others in his home
9. She is apologetic and makes excuses for his behaviour or she becomes aggressive and angry
10. She is nervous talking when he’s there
11. She seems to be sick more often and misses work
12. She tries to cover her bruises
13. She makes excuses at the last minute about why she can’t meet you or she tries to avoid you on the street
14. She seems sad, lonely, withdrawn and is afraid
15. She uses more drugs or alcohol to cope

If you or someone you know needs help, call the Assaulted Women’s Hotline, 1-866-863-0511, for information on shelters, the numbers, the locations. Learn the signs of abuse here.