16 Ideas for Helping Survivors of Violence Against Women Rebuild Their Lives

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There is no single definitive solution for rebuilding one’s life as a survivor of gender-based violence because the personal journey to healing varies for each individual woman or girl. Though many have suffered these experiences, the conduit to recovery is a unique one. Every woman or girl reacts and processes her experience of violence differently; every individual heals and comes to terms with post-trauma at their own pace. In addition, the way each survivor deals with her trauma depends on the culture she is in, the community of which she is a member, and the resources to which she has access.

Although recovery is complicated, frustrating and long-term process that is always a work-in-progress, building a new life is not impossible for many survivors. In this article, we list out a number of actions and starting points that may be able to help clear a pathway to healing and make it a little easier for survivors and the network of potential supporters around them (e.g. friends, family, community) who are also often at a loss as to how to help ease their pain and be there for them on their journey. Together, both survivors and their supporters can work through the healing process and deal effectively with the traumatic experience.

We have divided our ideas/tips into a section for communities and a section for survivors themselves.  These suggestions are by no means comprehensive but we hope they will not only help with kickstarting the healing process for some survivors and their supporters, but also awareness that we can all help improve upon the how individuals and communities can mitigate and work their way through after-effects of traumatic experiences such as domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, and female genital mutilation.

NOTE: This article is a companion article to last year’s article about 16 ways you can help support VAW survivors which you can read in tandem with this article to get more ideas and suggestions that you may be able to apply to your situation/community.

Written and compiled by Ashley Sapp with additional content by Regina Yau. Introduction by Ashley Sapp and Regina Yau.

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8 Ideas/Tips for Violence Against Women (VAW) Survivors

Survivor Tip #1: Acceptance

The first building block in reclaiming your life after the violence is acceptance because acknowledging what has occurred can help start you on the road to recovery. Much like with grieving, part of being able to move forward and rebuild one’s life is to accept what has happened to you and how it has changed you and your life. This is because denial may prevent you from acknowledging where your life currently stands and how to go about healing from your wounds, especially when it comes to the complications of living with the consequences of violence. Acceptance does not mean that you are “over it” because your healing process can never be rushed and many survivors find that it is a long-term process that requires constant work but it’s a process that requires a first step. And acceptance is that first step.

Survivor Tip #2: Self-Awareness

There is nothing more important than recognising the emotions and thoughts you may be having, particularly after a traumatic event. Shielding yourself from your own mind is akin to putting up a partition that prevents you from working through your experiences and hinders the healing process. Understand that although you are not alone and others have shared this type of experience, the way you heal and behave and react can and will be unique.  No one follows the same pattern, and this is okay. Also, everyone deals with this at their own pace, so whether you prefer to face it immediately or to put it away for a while until you have healed physically (if you have sustained physical injuries), it’s up to you. Just remember that it’s important to do so before your emotions and thoughts begin festering and causing you more hurt.

hobbiesSurvivor Tip #3: The Power of Creativity

Even if you are not the best writer or the most artistic person in the world, writing and crafts can serve as therapeutic tools after your traumatic experience. Very often, there is a feeling of loss after experiencing any sort of violence because violence is inherently destructive. Channeling your emotions and thoughts into words, art, dance, or music can be a pivotal part of working through everything that accompanies being a VAW survivor for several reasons. Firstly, creative activities may be able to help with revealing more about how you are feeling and dealing with what has occurred, and can also bring about new understanding that could be beneficial to your recovery. Secondly, creative activities may be a cathartic way for you find your voice after your traumatic experience. Thirdly, for some individuals, being able to create something using your hands and imagination may well be able to counteract the destructiveness of the violence inflicted on them by their abuser. For examples, see The Center for Women & Families.

Survivor Tip #4: Hobbies

If you are currently at a place in your recovery where you are not inclined to do creative activities, a simple activity you may want to consider undertaking is to remember the hobbies you enjoyed before the act of violence occurred. Even though you are dealing with a painful life-altering experience, it may help for you to remember some of the positive aspects of your life before the trauma. It can be easy to lose interest in hobbies and feel underwhelmed/ overwhelmed in general in the process of rebuilding yourself as a person and your life as a whole. However, if you are able to do so, being diligent about getting involved with the hobbies and activities that bring you joy (when you are ready) can be important in helping you because they can take you out of your mind for a bit into a place of happiness or, at least, comfort. In fact, if you have never had a hobby before, perhaps it is time to consider taking on one that can pique and absorb your interest effectively.

Survivor Tip #5: Use Available Resources

Sometimes it takes a long while for a survivor to reach this point, but the important thing is working towards being able to reach out and utilise all the tools and resources available around you that may be able to help you take the next step in reclaiming your life. Whether that means seeking help from family or friends, discussing what has happened with a survivors group, seeing a therapist, or calling a hotline number, feeling comfortable enough to explore your options is imperative to rebuilding. Some resources can be found on The Pixel Project’s Resources page.

Survivor Tip #6: Understand Timing

We all heal differently and within specific time frames and following our own distinctive patterns. No matter how quickly or slowly you move through the healing process, it only matters that you are moving through it at all. Comparing how you deal with your pain and how you manage your situation with how other survivors do it is unnecessary because there is no right or wrong way to go about it. Do what feels right. Do what helps you. But the main thing –the most important thing—is to take care of you. Listen to what your body and mind need and try to communicate that with both yourself and loved ones.

Survivor Tip #7: Unlearn Shame

Though hearing from others that what happened to you is not your fault can help, it is something you must learn and understand for yourself. You have no reason to feel guilty for your abuser’s/attacker’s actions because it was their choice to inflict violence on you. You have no reason to doubt that you are a survivor in every sense of the word, and though you will feel a bewildering range of emotions that come with being a survivor, shame should not be one of them. It is possible to unlearn shame as long as you continue to remind yourself of the truth: you are not to blame for what happened to you. Place post-its and reminders of this on your wall or your mirror until it sinks in. Another crucial step you can take in unlearning shame is to put distance between yourself and the people in your life and your community who insisting on blaming the victim (you) for what has happened to you. This is a difficult action to take as victim-blamers may include your family and friends but it is important to identify those who will recognise that it is not your fault and who will focus on helping you heal instead of making you doubt yourself.

Survivor Tip #8: Network, Network, Network

While your healing process and experience is unique to you, it is something that others are working through too. Joining a network of victims and survivors of traumatic events such as assault, rape, domestic violence, and female genital mutilation can help break down the barriers of feeling alone or unequipped to handle recovery. These are your peers who understand at least part of the emotional terrain that you are navigating and those who are further down the line in their own healing may have some helpful advice that you could apply to your own situation. Plus, sharing your own insight and tips with other survivors could help you heal as well. You can find support groups locally or online, in places like Trauma Survivors Network.

8 Ideas/Tips For Communities, Families, and Friends of Violence Against Women (VAW) Survivors.

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Supporter Tip #1: Listen And Believe

When a survivor of any sort of gender-based violence or harassment—domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation, and so on—reaches out to talk about her experience, she is not necessarily seeking advice. Instead, she is looking for a safe environment and people who will actively listen to her in a non-judgemental way. Survivors need to be heard and assured that their experience is important, instead of having their trauma explained away, blamed for what happened to them, or have decisions about their future made on their behalf without their consent. Nothing can change what has already occurred to the survivor, but having a trustworthy, stable, and accepting community of supporters (friends, family, helplines like RAINN) who believes her and does not blame her will do wonders for her recovery. Another advantage of making the commitment to listen to the survivor is that you will be better able to find out directly from her what she needs and what you can do to help alleviate her pain.

Supporter Tip #2:  Support In Appropriate Ways

For many VAW survivors, the healing process is a difficult one and what often brings the healing process to a halt is feeling too alone and isolated by the surrounding community to continue. As you listen to a survivor detail their feelings, thoughts, and experiences, it is important to remain supportive and to show that support in ways that the survivor is comfortable with. A few first steps you can take include: being reassuring, offering assistance when she needs or asks for assistance, doing research on healing resources for both you as a supporter and her as a survivor. Sometimes what is needed most by those who are recovering is simply knowing someone else will be there to help them and  walk with them through this journey of rebuilding. At the same time, amplify your public support for the survivor (and all survivors in your community) by challenging the attitudes of those around you who stigmatise the survivor. For example, if you hear someone shaming the survivor (or gossiping unkindly about them), speak up to call out that person’s behaviour.

Supporter Tip #3:  Do Your Research

Something that can help in any situation is to be well-informed, particularly when it comes to helping a VAW survivor in appropriate ways. One of the key steps to understanding the issues these survivors are facing as they progress toward healing (including: anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder) is to do your research – go online to educate yourself about them and what you can do to help the survivor. Although every survivor’s experience is unique, there are stages, symptoms, and signs of post-trauma recovery that the majority of survivors go through which you can learn to recognise in order to provide timely help. Once you are familiar with all this, you will be in a better place to take action to help  Here’s a quick starting point: Check out The Pixel Project’s VAW Facts section to learn about the different types of violence against women, then go to our “Getting Help” section to get checklists and tips for helping survivors.

Supporter Tip #4: Help Build Resources

Whether or not you are a survivor yourself, the issue of violence against women is faced by many; therefore, resources are invaluable in every community. If there are limited or no shelters, helplines, and funds nearby to assist survivors where you live, one place to start is with your employer or community center. Still no luck? Then start looking for ways to build resources in your community by raising awareness about VAW via flyers, community fundraisers, and networking with others who are willing to help create more resources and cognizance locally.  This can begin a movement in your community to ensure survivors have a safe environment to recover in while addressing victim-blaming and rape culture to effect wider social change.

Supporter Tip #5: Therapy Helps

Therapy can be beneficial part of the rebuilding process for survivors of rape, incest, domestic violence, and other forms of gender violence as it provides an additional level of help for healing on both an emotional and psychological level. However, therapy is not just for survivors – it can also be helpful for friends and family who are actively involved in helping the survivor. The right therapist can assist in better enabling you to be an effective supporter as someone equipped to help your loved one through this experience. There are sessions for you individually and that you can attend together with the survivor or as a group: utilise them. If private therapy is too expensive, find out if there are support groups or anti-VAW organisations nearby who may be able to help locate affordable therapy and counselling/guidance services for both survivors and the families/communities of the survivors.

Supporter Tip #6: Avoid Being Overbearing

While it is important to remain caring and supportive, there is a difference between doing so and being overbearing. Remember to respect the survivor’s needs. Do not push for more details when she is not ready nor should you try to “fix” problems or force her to talk beyond what she is comfortable discussing. Silence is not a bad thing and can in fact say quite a bit. Being there for a survivor means allowing her to be and to not pretend everything is okay.  When in doubt, ask the survivor about what she needs and how she would like you to help her. If she asks for some space or insists on accomplishing a task on her own steam, respect her decision to do so as this is part of her journey towards regaining her self-confidence and self-respect after the violence.

Supporter Tip #7: Be Attentive to Flashbacks or Panic Attacks

Flashbacks and panic attacks can be fairly common in VAW survivors, and responding to them in a compassionate and appropriate manner will go a long way towards helping the survivor manage and recover from these episodes. Help the survivor to breathe properly, let them know you realise this feels real to them, but remind them that it is not are all key actions to take. Describe her surroundings and have her do the same, turn off any triggering music/television, and bring the focus back to the moment. Remind the survivor there is nothing wrong with undergoing flashbacks or attacks, as they are an opportunity to understand and to work through her experiences. If the flashback or panic attack is very severe, call for appropriate medical or professional assistance.

Supporter Tip #8: Recognise The Importance of Self-Care

Finally: Friends and family of survivors of violence often experience their own feelings of guilt, shame, or loss of intimacy because they were unable to help the survivor when the violence was inflicted on her or feel helpless when faced with the survivor’s suffering. Chances are that you will also be affected by this experience, so be sure to help and take care of yourself through it as well because you need to keep yourself healthy on all levels in order to continue helping the survivor for the amount of time it would take for her to heal.

16 Ways You Can Support a Survivor of Violence Against Women

Friends SupportViolence Against Women (VAW) almost always takes the form of interpersonal violence, such as sexual assault/abuse and domestic physical abuse, which continues to have great stigma and denial in our society.  This denial of the reality of abuse and violence that pervades our communities results in ignorance of how to support a survivor.  We have so many ways to support people with medical problems, people who are in accidents, and people with mental health and now substance abuse problems, yet we continue to disregard survivors of violence and their needs toward support and healing.

Supporting a survivor of violence requires intentional thought and behaviour toward recognising what the survivor needs at any given moment during their recovery.  And the response to survivors is often very different than responses we may give to other events or issues in a person’s life.

To help you get started, we have compiled 16 ways to help support a survivor.

Introduction by Carol Olson, List compiled by Jennifer Gallienne and Jodi Layne, Edited by Carol Olson and Jerica Nonell

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How you can support a survivor #1:  Listen. One of the primary things a survivor of violence needs is for you to just sit and listen sincerely. Listen without judging and listen without fixating over what you are going to say next. Listen without freaking out over the accounting of the events of violence and abuse.  Just listen to what they have to say and allow them to be truly heard. Most people who did not report their assaults decided not to because they “thought it was not important enough” or that “no one would want to hear about it.”  Listen and let your friend know that both they and what they went through are important.

How you can support a survivor #2: Believe. Another primary thing a survivor needs is to be believed.  Do not question their version of events or if what happened to them was a “legitimate” sexual assault. Tell them directly: “I believe you.” A lot of people never report their assault because they are afraid that no one will believe them. Many survivors will have to spend their whole lives trying to convince authorities that what happened to them was real: from the police (should your friend choose to report the incident), to the court (if the case ever even gets there), and to the media (and the way it handles rape and rape victims).  They will have their account of the assault repeatedly challenged and de-legitimized throughout their life, so please offer unconditional support.

How you can support a survivor #3: Ask how you can help. Sometimes we may feel like we know what to do in this situation or may want to immediately seek help for the victim. We must remember that this is not about us and it is more useful to ask “Is there anything you need from me right now?” instead of taking control of the situation. It is important to remember to go at the victim’s pace and what they are comfortable in doing.

How you can support a survivor #4: No coulda, shoulda, woulda. The fact is that sexual assault happens because people do it, not because of the length of a dress, the time of day they were out, or how much they were drinking. Do not offer your friend suggestions on how they could have prevented being assaulted – the chances are that they have already replayed their assault in their head and wondered what they could have done differently. The reality is that the person who assaulted them should never have done it in the first place.  It is never the victim’s fault that someone assaulted them.

How you can support a survivor #5: Respect Boundaries. If they ask you not to say anything and to just listen: just listen. If they ask for a hug or other reassuring touch: offer it if you feel comfortable and do not touch them in any way unless asked or permitted. Do not try and help or offer suggestions if they do not want any. React in the way they ask you to. Do not tell others about the assault if they have confided in you. Do not report their assault to law enforcement or officials without their consent. Remember that victims of violence have had their boundaries violently abused by the offender and will need people to respect them.

Holding HandHow you can support a survivor #6: Empower!
Put them in control of their own healing while being supportive. Never put pressure on your friend to pursue these options or react in a certain way. Give them the tools to decide how to move forward and don’t judge their decisions. Being a survivor of sexual violence means they are usually dealing with a loss of power, so do all that you can to help them restore their autonomy.

How you can support a survivor #7: Provide resources.
If you know someone that has been a victim of sexual assault give them resources. Let them know that there is professional help available. If they are not ready to go to a local center, they can use a hotline, such as the National Assault Hotline 1.800.656.HOPE and the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline.

How you can support a survivor #8: Accompany the Survivor to Get Help. If they decide to move forward with seeking help and healing, offer to drive them and/or accompany them (with their permission) to any or all of the agencies that will provide them with help, such as the hospital for a medical and/or forensic exam, to the sexual assault center for legal advocacy and support, and/or to the counselor for therapy.  You may not be able to sit in their counseling session but ask the advocate/counselor if you could be present with them through the initial steps.  Some counselors will work with family, partners, and friends to help educate them and engage them in supporting the survivor.

How you can support a survivor #9: Combat victim blaming and rape culture. Ever heard someone make a rape joke? Every heard someone blame a victim of rape because of what they were wearing or where they were? Ever heard someone use the word rape to describe beating a video game? Ever heard someone say she really wanted it or state that no means they are just playing hard to get? Challenge and confront these when they happen!  If it is your friend or relative saying these things, do not worry about hurting their feelings; let them know how this hurts survivors. Look for these teachable moments and educate them on why what they are saying is hurtful and perpetuating violence against women.

How your can support a survivor #10: Confront Harmful Language
Sexual assault has nothing to do with what the victim was wearing and harmful language used to describe women objectify them. Take the time to educate your community, family, and friends about how harmful this language is. The next time you hear someone say that the victim should have been dressed differently, confront that directly.

How to support a survivor #11: Debunk the myth of alcohol/medication or other substances. Many people have heard victim blaming language when it comes to a victim drinking alcohol, taking sleeping pills, or using other substances before their assault.  Just because a person had something to drink or took medication does not mean the person asked for the assault to happen and nor is to blame for it.  Let them know that just because they had alcohol or other substances does not mean they deserved the assault to happen.

sexual assault prev tipsHow to support a survivor #12: Hold Abusers Accountable for their Actions. Do not let abusers make excuses, such as blaming the victim for alcohol, drugs, behaviour, or clothing. Our culture and media spends a lot of time blaming the victim but never blames the person who committed the crime. Shift the blame back on to the abuser, where it belongs, and away from the victim.

How to support a survivor #13: Volunteer! Many domestic violence/sexual assault centres have wonderful volunteer opportunities and programmes available. Many of these agencies rely on dedicated volunteers to respond to sexual assault calls. These agencies do a wonderful job at training interested volunteers as well as offering them support along the way. Go online and search for these centres in your community to find the nearest volunteer opportunity.

How to support a survivor #14: Attend a Community Event. One of the ways you can support rape survivors and show your support is attend a community event that is bringing awareness to sexual assault and offering support. There are many events like Take Back the Night that happen on college campuses around the world and various events that happen during April for Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is a good way to show your support for the community of survivors living in your city and is a good way to get education on the issue.

How to support a survivor #15: Have Conversations with Men in Your Life. Because victim blaming will not prevent rape, what needs to change is the conversations that we are having with men about all of these issues. Educating on consent and sending messages to men to be accountable for their actions and behaviour is more effective because it shifts the focus onto them and clears away any misunderstandings that may not come out otherwise. Men need to realize the responsibility to prevent rape is on them and not the people getting raped. We need to have more conversations with men and boys about healthy relationships and consensual sex.

How to support a survivor #16: Take Care of Yourself. Sexual assault is more common and has more manifestations than we let ourselves believe or acknowledge within our society. If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, the disclosure of another friend may bring up uncomfortable feelings or reawaken trauma.  Make sure you get the support you need to be a good ally to your friend and to keep your own mental and emotional health in check.

The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest – The “16 For 16” 2013 Edition

News-Coffee9-150x150Welcome to the special 16 for 16 edition of The Pixel Project’s VAW e-News Digest, for the 16 Days of Activism against gender-based violence!

In the Arab world where old fashion attitudes die hard, women’s rights are frequently violated even in places where governments are relatively progressive on social issues . Sexual harassment is so rife that almost every woman in Egypt has experienced it, according to a United Nations (UN) report released earlier this year. In Saudi Arabia, they must cover themselves in public, cannot drive cars and must remain under male ‘guardianship.’

In the United Kingdom, members of parliament launched a major inquiry why female genital mutilation to ‘get to the truth’ about why no-one has been convicted three decades after it was made illegal . Home Affairs Select Committee is to challenge ministers and the police over why charges have never been brought against ‘cutters’ or families who arrange the surgery.

Every contribution matters. If you have any news you’d like to share about violence against women, please email The Pixel Project at info@thepixelproject.net. If you prefer to receive up-to-the-minute news concerning violence against women, follow us on Twitter. It’s time to stop violence against women together.

Researched and compiled by Karina Tayag and edited by Carol Olson.
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16 General News Stories reporting on Violence Against Women 

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16 News Stories reporting on Domestic Violence

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16 News Stories reporting on Sexual Assault and Rape 

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16 News Stories reporting on Sex and Human Trafficking

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16 News Stories reporting on Female Genital Mutilation

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16 News Stories reporting on Forced Marriage and Honour Killing

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16 News Stories reporting on VAW Activism

16 Ways to Stop Domestic Violence in Your Community

stop domestic violenceThe World Health Organisation (WHO)’s latest report on Violence Against Women that was released in June 2013 indicated that in some regions of the world, over 35% of women suffer from partner violence.  With these staggering numbers, it is a very real possibility that every one of us knows a woman is facing (or has faced) domestic violence.

The intervention of neighbours and the wider community is one of the keys to stopping the violence. This starter list provides 16 tips for preventing and intervening to stop Domestic Violence in your community and/or neighbourhood. We have divided the list into 2 sections – one for the wider community and one for individuals. If you have any other suggestions and tips, please do share them in the comments section.

Introduction by Regina Yau; Written by Rashad Brathwaite and Regina Yau; Edited by Jerica Nonell and Regina Yau.

“Stop Domestic Violence” graphic by Sebastian Smith.

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For The Wider Community

IMG_9492Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #1: Know the signs. The first step to action is to familiarise individuals and the community with the possible signs and indicators of domestic violence. These signs can vary and do not always come with physical symptoms because domestic violence is not just limited to physical attacks such as beatings. It includes many forms of abusive behaviour enacted to control the victim in a myriad of ways including emotional abuse, verbal abuse and economic abuse. Domestic violence also affects every level and demograhic in society, so there is no typical victim despite the stereotypes. Someone who may not appear to be a victim of domestic violence may well be suffering in silence and it is important to recognise the signs if this is the case.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #2: Get your community educated! A good start to eradicating Domestic Violence from your community or neighbourhood is to start educating as many people as possible about Domestic Violence, its impact and how to intervene safely. This can be done in collaboration with your local Domestic Violence shelter or women’s organisation or police community outreach officers who can work with the community, local schools and local companies to organise and implement talks, townhall meetings and other group sessions to talk about this issue.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #3: Get your community organised! There is safety and influence in numbers when intervening to stop an abuser or making your community a place where Domestic Violence will not be tolerated. So just as many neighbourhoods have neighbourhood watch to stop crime, start organising a network of folks who will commit to intervene in Domestic Violence situations, help victims leave their abusers safely and provide a communal support structure for survivors.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #4: Boost your community support network with technology! If you have a smart phone and the victim has a smart phone, consider downloading a safety app for women, many of which have been designed to automatically alert your support network if you are in danger. If the victim does not have a smart phone, consider pooling money with a few friends and neighbours to get her one and pre-load it with a safety app that is connected to all your phones so you can become a de facto support net for her. Free safety apps currently available include the award-winning Circle of 6 and the iAMDEFENDER app which you can download here.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #5: Stopping the violence is good for business. Domestic Violence has cost economies and companies millions of dollars in lost time, medical care, productivity etc. In the U.S., the cost of Domestic Violence to the economy is estimated at $8.3 billion a year. If you are a business owner or a senior member of a company (e.g. a director, board member, senior manager), be pro-active in getting educated about how to intervene if you suspect or know that your employee or staff member is facing Domestic Violence because it will have a knock-on effect on your company. Implement HR policies that makes provisions for the potential impact of Domestic Violence. For example, the National Bank of Australia is currently offering paid Domestic Violence leave because the economic freedom from remaining in paid work is regarded as vital in helping victims escape violent relationships.

For Individuals

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #6: Ring the bell. If you are the neighbour of a family experiencing Domestic Violence, please take the time to ring their bell when you hear a violent situation happening. You could use the old neighbourly approach of asking to borrow a cup of sugar or some milk as an excuse. If you feel that it could get dangerous, bring another person with you so there will be more than one witness. Check out what this guy did in a PSA by our partner, Bell Bajao:

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #7: Bring a back-up. Intervening with Domestic Violence situations can be dangerous especially if the abuser has a weapon (e.g. a gun) and is intoxicated by drink or drugs. If you are unable to get help from the local shelter or police, make sure to bring another friend or family member along with you when you respond to the victim/survivor’s call in person.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #8:  BE the back-up. If your neighbour, friend, co-worker, classmate, mother, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, niece or cousin is facing Domestic Violence at home, let them know that you will be willing to be a witness or to intervene on their behalf while you are around. Also let them know that they are welcome to take refuge in your home should they need somewhere to go.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #9: Make the call, NOW. If the situation is beyond simple neighbourly intervention (e.g. the abuser has a gun and uses it during the abuse), call the police or your local emergency services (such as 911 in the U.S.) IMMEDIATELY. Provide critical information, such as location, names, contact number, and whether or not you wish the remain anonymous. Do NOT intervene personally in this scenario as it will be too dangerous to do so.

Be-Friends-with-Someone-Emotionally-Unable-to-Be-an-Equally-Supportive-Friend-Step-9Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #10: Listen to empower. If a victim of domestic violence reaches out to you, listen. Let her know that you believe her and do not judge her choices. Victims often feel completely isolated and are often belittled by their partner; it is important to enable her to feel safe when confiding in you because eventually, she may well be able to gather enough courage to tell you exactly what is happening and to ask for help. This intervention tip may be particularly useful for hairdressers, nurses, human resource department personnel and anyone working in professions that involve having to listen to clients, customers and co-workers as part of the job.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #11: Be on standby If you suspect your friend, co-worker, staff, or family member of suffering from Domestic Violence, offer to be on standby for her text or call for emergencies. Have your phone on and fully charged at all times and keep it on you. If you have a car and need to intervene immediately, make sure that the gas/petrol tank is full so you can get in and drive to get the victim/survivor immediately if need be.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #12: Have an intervention plan. Work out a plan to get an intervention operation in action – have the following numbers on standby for your use:

  • The national Domestic Violence helpline (if your country has it)
  • The local Domestic Violence shelter helpline wherever the victim/survivor is located.
  • The local police wherever the victim/survivor is located.

Make sure to contact all of these agencies immediately should you receive an urgent SOS from the victim/survivor or if you hear or witness the violence begin and escalate (and in many cases, it may escalate incredibly quickly).

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #13: Provide some relief. If you know a Domestic Violence victim/survivor who is being kept at home without relief, do a random act of kindness for her: Offer to babysit the children for a few hours while the abuser is out so she can have a breather; Offer to pick up groceries for her on your grocery run. Every small gesture helps provide relieve and also build the victim’s confidence in eventually reaching out to you for help (or accepting your help).

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #14: Check in regularly. If you fear for your friend, co-worker, classmate, or family member’s life, call or text her once a day at a random time to see if she is all right. If it’s your neighbour, keep an eye out on the house and your ears pricked for any signs or sounds of violence.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #15: Be a resource. Help her find the assistance she needs, whether it is legal information, local domestic violence programmes, or finding a safe place through a battered women’s shelter. The greatest danger women face in these situations is often the actual process of leaving, so finding a safe place may be key. Knowing this information beforehand may be helpful, but assisting her in the research and even making phone calls for her will also help speed things up.

Domestic Violence Intervention Tip #16: Document! Document! Document! Document any incidents that you witness. Take note of dates, times, injuries, and any other observations. Your ongoing documentation can help bolster a victim’s courage and credibility when they are finally willing to pursue legal action against their partner.

The Pixel Project Selection 2013 – 16 Notable Facebook Pages by Anti-Violence Against Women Organisations

Foto-FacebookFacebook quickly became one of the most used social networking sites.  It has grown from a gossip site to include cause- focused advocacy and global issues as part of its information sharing. Participants have shared, weighed in, debated, and joined virtual hands around the world to address a multitude of difficult human rights issues such as violence against women.  On Facebook, everyone becomes an activist and adds their voice to keep the subject – be it public rapes, female genital mutilation, or domestic violence – at the forefront of people’s minds with a simple click and share.

News stories, events, and opinions now go viral on sites like Facebook before they reach television.  Social networking has replaced the TV news show as a means to spread information happening not only in our communities, but around the world, linking what seemed like disparate and isolated acts of violence into a human rights issue that happens in every society and effects everyone.  On Facebook, hundreds of thousands of people share their opinion and demand action.  The power of Facebook seems to be limitless as one share equals 12 shares, which turns into 24, then 48, until over 100 people have seen and shared a piece of information, news link, or picture.

In this article, we highlight 16 anti-violence against women Facebook pages that are unique in their message and their delivery. This is our second annual list of recommended Facebook pages and we have selected them because they make an effort to temper humour with information, offer a significant way for their readers to help, and make those in the fight feel more powerful and part of something greater. They present a unique perspective on a global issue. So pick and choose a couple to ‘like’, or better yet – ‘like’ them all and get informed and take action.

Introduction by Michelle Cahill with updates by Regina Yau; 2013 list research and compiled by Jennifer Gallienne; Curated and Edited by Regina Yau and Carol Olson.

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Recommended Facebook Page #1: Abuse No More – Global

abusenormoreAbuse No More is a public page of a network of closed Facebook groups designed to offer private and safe spaces for survivors to talk, share, and get support from one another. As part of their mission to help survivors of domestic violence heal and rebuild their lives, their public page offers a variety of positive quotes that help keep spirits buoyant. Like this page if you feel in need of a lift and domestic violence survivors who need a safe space to talk can directly request for admission to the closed support groups.

Recommended Facebook Page #2: Blank Noise – India

240_17216359533_6924_n (1)Blank Noise is led and run completely by volunteers. A core team of volunteers from across geographical locations and age groups work with the collective. Blank Noise seeks to trigger public dialogue on the issue of street sexual harassment. Fifty percent of Blank Noise members are male and are referred to as Blank Noise Guys. Blank Noise works towards an attitudinal shift towards ‘eve-teasing’ and involves the public to take collective responsibility of the issue. Their Facebook page is one of the best ones out there for those who wish to keep up with news about women’s rights and violence against women in India.

Recommended Facebook Page #3: Catalyst Foundation – Vietnam

34113_131455520216469_3151165_nCatalyst Foundation helps build communities in Vietnam to fight human trafficking. There is no simple option to stop trafficking. Catalyst Foundation believes there is only a holistic approach to ending this tragedy. Through education and community development, Catalyst works to give these communities and its daughters hope. Their Facebook page is a reflection of this and anyone interested in how the fight to stop human trafficking in Vietnam should follow them to get the latest news about their campaigns as well as more general news about the issue from a Vietnam perspective.

Recommended Facebook Page #4: Draw the line campaign – Canada

528705_434454069915980_1327101798_n‘Draw The Line’ is an interactive campaign that aims to engage Ontarians in a dialogue about sexual violence. The campaign challenges common myths about sexual violence and equips bystanders with information on how to intervene safely and effectively. It is ‘Draw the Line’s hope to educate about how to spot sexual violence and empower users to make a difference. The news mix on their Facebook page a slanted towards reporting on and educating young people in their teens and twenties about the subject of consent and why learning to recognise whether consent is given is one of the keys to stopping sexual assault and rape.

Recommended Facebook Page #5: Free The Slaves – global

1467463_662949593726741_1795916166_nFree the Slaves liberate slaves around the world and help survivors of slavery rebuild their lives. They research real world solutions to eradicate slavery forever, and fight the systems that allow slavery to exist in the first place. This organisation uses world class research and compelling stories from the front lines of slavery to convince the powerful and the powerless that we can end slavery. For those who are particularly interested in the issue of slavery, their page offers a great introduction to the cause for first-timers as they share a good mix of articles that put slavery into its historical context as well as human interest stories focused on activists and survivors.

Recommended Facebook Page #6: Global Network of Women Peacebuilders – Global

13293_119001241462231_4267292_nThe Global Network of Women Peacebuilders, a program partner of the International Civil society Action network (ICAN), is a coalition of women’s groups and other civil society organisations from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, and Latin America that are directly involved in advocacy and action for the full implementation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820 (1888, 1889) on Women, Peace and Security at the local, national, regional, and international levels. They work to bridge the “gap between policy discussions and implementation and action on the ground on women, peace and security issues.” Their Facebook page swings between sharing news of the major activities and campaigns undertaken by their partners and members, and key Violence Against Women news in countries like Egypt and Afghanistan where women suffer some of the highest levels of gender-based violence in the world.

Recommended Facebook Page #7: Gotstared.at – Global

521820_625939720753972_1305007175_nGS.A is a counter-culture movement that raises awareness on social issues of violence, gender, and discrimination, and believes in the power of the internet to reach out. What began as an outlet to vent frustrations has now taken shape as an extensive movement through social networks online. Their Facebook page shares a wide range of anti-Violence Against Women news as well as a mix of feminist memes as well as videos that provoke discussion and thought not just about violence against women but gender inequality as a whole.

Recommended Facebook Page #8: Haitianwomennetwork.org – Haiti

haitianwomenHaitian Women Network is an advocacy group whose sole purpose is to campaign against abuse of young girls and women in Haiti, as well as to promote equality and dignity. On their Facebook page, they focus on sharing news about Haitian women’s rights, the progress in the rebuilding of Haiti after the earthquake, as well as news links about key violence against women issues and events from around the world.

Recommended Facebook Page #9 – New Light Kolkata – India

New LightNew Light is a non-profit community project based in Kalighat, Kolata, on of the oldest red light districts of the city.  Urmi Basu founded the organisation in 2000 to provide a variety of services and support for children, girls and women in the Kalighat community who are victims of trafficking, prostitution and other needs of women and girls. The New Light Facebook page provides updates about their work and campaigns, providing an insight about how working on the ground to help survivors of sex trafficking and forced prostitution is like in India.

Recommended Facebook Page #10: No More.org – USA

no moreNO MORE is a movement centered on a powerful new symbol that brings together all people who want to end domestic violence and sexual assault. Like the peace sign, the yellow “support our troops” ribbon, the red AIDS ribbon, or the pink breast cancer ribbon, the goal of the NO MORE symbol is to help spark a national dialogue and move the issues of domestic violence and sexual assault higher on the public’s agenda. Their Facebook page features coverage on high profile celebrities supporting their cause through PSAs, quotes and speaking out publicly about domestic violence.

Recommended Facebook Page #11: Project Unbreakable – Global

418277_376923302326591_2098750611_nThe mission of Project Unbreakable is to increase awareness of the issues surrounding sexual assault and encourage the act of healing through art. Since the project’s conception in October 2011, it has featured over two thousand images of sexual assault survivors holding posters with quotes from their attackers. Project Unbreakable has been featured media outlets such as Glamour, TIME, The Huffington Post, and The Guardian. Unbreakable’s Facebook and Tumblr pages have thousands of photos from users of all races and ages and genders.

Recommended Facebook Page #12: Safe Dehli Campaign – India

39178_136190593088227_3163083_nThe Safe Delhi Campaign aims to mobilise people in the city to act and make a change. This campaign believes that women and girls have a right to live a life free from violence and fear, and that all of us have a role to play in making this a reality. This campaign focuses on strategies to create safer environments for women and girls, and ways of getting different groups of people in the city involved. On their Facebook page, they share news links, videos and informational graphics about safety apps for women and girls, urban planning for the safety of women and girls, as well as selected news about efforts by major anti-VAW organisations such as UN Women.

Recommended Facebook Page #13: The Invisible War – US 

TheInvisibleWarFBProfilePicThe Invisible War, directed and produced by Oscar and Emmy-nominated Kirby Dick and Emmy-nominated Amy Ziering, is a searing expose of the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the US military, the institutions that perpetuate and cover up its existence, and its profound personal and social consequences. Their Facebook page provides up-to-date information about media coverage and statistics of sexual assault in the military.

Recommended Facebook Page #14: The Pixel Project – Global

PixelProjectFacebookThe Pixel Project is a global, totally volunteer-based initiative with volunteers spread across the world. Their goal is to stimulate the fight against gender violence through volunteering, men’s involvement and fundraising. Its completely virtual platform encourages one to step outside the box and see what is happening all over the world, all while encouraging participation in what is happening at home. The Pixel Project’s Facebook page shares information from all over the globe, encourages thoughtful discussion and keeps their followers up to date on what’s happening in the fight against gender violence.

Recommended Facebook Page #15: UltraViolet – USA

66846_462267770509938_2074753454_nUltraViolet is a new and rapidly growing community of women and men across the U.S. mobilised to fight sexism and expand women’s rights, from politics and government to media and pop culture. UltraViolet works on a range of issues, including health care, economic security, violence, and reproductive rights. Their Facebook page, though U.S.-centric, reflects their mission very well as they share news and information about a wide range of issues including domestic violence against women and sexism in politics and the workplace.

Recommended Facebook Page #16: White Ribbon Campaign – Pakistan

557494_364314376940563_687138729_nThe concept of men working to end violence against women is not only novel in Pakistan, but internationally as well. It is challenging, keeping in view the social and religious context of the culture. The aim behind WRCP is to instill in men that masculinity does not lie in using power against women. Rather, it lies in channeling this power for building a better future for the society. Their Facebook page is focused on sharing news of their campaigns and projects in Pakistan, and they try to keep things upbeat with a smattering of positive quote pictures popping up fairly regularly.

Pixel Project Selection 2013 – 16 Striking Anti-Violence Campaigns for the Cause to End Violence Against Women

Give Peace a ChanceIn this age of global interconnection through social networking and digital media, cause-focused campaigns have become powerful tools to raise awareness, educate the public, and bring millions of people together to effect change.  Even with campaigns developed to be “on the ground,” they are marketed, tweeted, blogged, posted, liked, linked and shared to such an extent it can create tidal waves of movement and change.

Yet despite this movement, this global sharing, this reaching of virtual hands around the world and within communities, many activists still face considerable obstacles to ending violence against women (VAW).  We still face: denial that violence against women exists or is an important issue; cultural taboos that prevent open and honest discussion; viewpoints that VAW is a “women’s issue instead of a human issue;” and hostility from men’s rights activists and extremists who seek to keep women “in their place.”

So today, in honour of all VAW activists, nonprofits, and grassroots groups that toil in such thankless situations to bring about positive change to the lives of women and girls facing violence; we present 16 of the most striking campaigns/programmes we have come across in the last year of our work, in no particular order. That many of them include men is an encouraging sign that the issue of VAW is becoming a human rights issue, not just a women’s issue.

What these campaigns have in common are:

  • The built-in “water-cooler” factor that gets the community buzzing about the campaign and by extension, the issue of VAW.
  • A good sense of what works in and for the culture and community where the activist/nonprofit/grassroots group is trying to effect change.

This year’s selection includes campaigns from 11 countries and take a wide variety of actions ranging from creating statement quilts to setting up a hairstylist training academy. We hope that these campaigns and initiatives inspire you to take action and get on board the cause to end VAW.

It’s time to stop violence against women. Together.

Introduction by Regina Yau; Research and summaries by Jennifer Gallienne; Edited by Carol Olson and Regina Yau

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Creative VAW Campaign 1: Survivor’s Monument Quilt – USA

In February 2013, FORCE gained attention for a temporary monument in the National Mall’s reflective pool, which was a giant poem reading, “I Can’t Forget What Happened But No One Else Remembers.”

The Monument Project is a call to create a national monument to survivors of rape and abuse. In summer of 2014, FORCE will blanket the mall with a GIANT quilt made of survivors’ stories. The crowd-sourced quilt will also double as a picnic blanket, inviting the public to sit, eat, and talk. An online version of the Monument Quilt also exists and is a public platform where experiences of survivors can be shared, respected, and honored. Survivors can submit their stories at themonumentproject.org

Creative VAW Campaign 2: UN Women’s Freedom from Violence Photo Competition – Global 

Through the two-month long photo competition that ran from 9 December 2012 to 10 February 2013, UN Women encouraged young people to show the world what freedom from violence against women meant to them. As part of the UN Secretary General’s Say NO – UNiTE to End Violence against Women and Girls campaign, millions were encouraged to discuss and prevent violence against women through social media and on ground activation. “The photo competition has achieved its objective of building a mass momentum among the online community and awakened them to the ground realities on situation of women in the society. It has also given them pointers on what needs to be done,” said Yogesh Jadhav, a top 10 runner up.

powerful-ads-use-real-google-searches-to-show-L-xR8BtECreative VAW Campaign 3: Powerful Ads Use Real Google Searches to Show the Scope – Global

A series of ads, developed as a creative idea for UN Women by Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai, uses genuine Google searches to reveal the widespread prevalence of sexism and discrimination against women. Based on searches dated 9 March, 2013, the ads expose negative sentiments ranging from stereotyping to outright denial of women’s rights. “When we came across these searches, we were shocked by how negative they were and decided we had to do something with them,” says Christopher Hunt, Art Director of the creative team. The idea developed places the text of the Google searches over the mouths of women portraits, as if to silence their voices.

Creative VAW Campaign 4: Tackling Violence Against Women with a Neighbourhood Watch Groups and a Hair Salon – Guatemala

In the past decade, nearly 5,000 women and young girls have been murdered and sexually assaulted in Guatemala. In Bárcenas, there are no street lights or reliable police protection. In response to the murders, the Women Workers’ Committee has created neighborhood watch groups. MADRE is providing the group with flashlights and whistles to distribute to women as an additional safety measure. MADRE and the Women Workers Committee will also build a hair salon in Bárcenas. Here, women can find a way to escape violence and poverty. The hair salon will provide job training in hair styling and help with job placement. It will also provide training in domestic violence intervention strategies, allowing newly-trained hair stylists to become counselors for their clients.

download (1)Creative VAW Campaign 5: Stop Telling Women to Smile Project Tackles Street Harassment with Art – USA 

Stop Telling Women to Smile is an art series by Tatyana Fazlalizadeh. The work addresses gender-based street harassment by placing drawn portraits of women, composed with captions that speak directly to offenders, outside in public spaces. The drawn portraits, which Fazlalizadeh designed to be plastered on public walls, include captions that are intended to speak directly to offenders of street harassment.

Creative VAW Campaign 6: Women’s initiative launches We Will Ride Bicycles campaign – Egypt

An Egyptian women’s initiative has launched a campaign entitled “We Will Ride Bicycles” to confront sexual harassment in the streets and public transportation. The activists behind the campaign said they chose the theme of riding bicycles to promote women and girls’ rights to run errands through cycling without being afraid of attracting negative reaction in the streets.

Creative VAW Campaign 7: Hackathon find IT based solutions aimed at preventing and reporting violence against women- Nepal and South Asia  

In response to the brutal Delhi Gang Rape, the World Bank joined forces with a Nepalese firm, Young Innovations, and the Computer Association of Nepal to host a Hackathon in Nepal on June 16 to find IT-based solutions. Over 100 youth joined the one-day session to design innovative applications aimed at preventing and reporting violence against women.

Creative VAW Campaign 8 – “Don’t Be That Guy” Campaign – Canada

Sexual Assault Voices of Calgary (SAV Calgary) re-launched the ‘Don’t Be That Guy’ campaign in April 2013 with new posters, which focus on the offenders of sexual assault, rather than the victims. The posters, aimed at males between 18 and 25, have a simple message: Sex without consent is sexual assault. Police also trained front-line bar staff to identify people who may prey upon women vulnerable to alcohol and drugs, and officers assigned in Vancouver’s entertainment district were told to focus on predatory males who may be targeting intoxicated women. The campaign, first conceived by Sexual Assault Victims of Edmonton (SAVE) in 2010, stresses that the offender is responsible for changing their behaviours. The previous campaign reduced sexual assaults by 10%.
The No More Abuse campaign hopes to help those who are enduring abuse in silence. (Photo: King Khalid Foundation)

Photo: King Khalid Foundation

Creative VAW Campaign 9: No More Abuse Poster Campaign- Saudi Arabia 

Saudi Arabia has launched its first major campaign against  domestic violence . The ads in the “No More Abuse” campaign show a woman in a dark veil with one black eye. The English version reads “some things can’t be covered.” The Arabic version, according to Foreign Policy’s David Kenner, translates roughly as “the tip of the iceberg.” A Web site for the campaign includes a report on reducing domestic violence and emergency resources for victims.

Creative VAW Campaign 10: Silence Is Not Golden Media Campaign- Croatia

Open Media Group in Croatia created, developed, and implemented a media campaign bringing awareness to violence against women. The media campaign consisted of four TV clips on the subjects of domestic violence, date rape, and trafficking, while the fourth TV clip shows that all three have the same root and are gender-based. The slogan of the campaign is “Silence is not gold” (as opposed to proverb “silence is gold”) and the TV clips were broadcasted on Croatian Television and RTL Croatia. Both televisions provided free media time, and, in eight months, the campaign lasted the value of broadcasting time is over approx. 2,3 mil. EUR. For this campaign OMG was awarded by ERSTE foundation (in Vienna) for the best European campaign.

CREDIT: 7000 IN SOLIDARITY

CREDIT: 7000 IN SOLIDARITY

Creative VAW Campaign 11: Reclaiming Robin Thicke’s chart topper – USA

UCLA’s student-run sexual assault prevention campaign, 7000 In Solidarity, gets its name from the estimated number of students at the university who will encounter sexual violence. The group encourages students to take a solidarity pledge to promise they’ll practice consent, intervene in situations where they see someone’s else’s consent being violated, and support survivors of sexual violence.To raise awareness about consent among the student body, 7000 In Solidarity created a graphic in response to “Blurred Lines,” Robin Thicke’s popular pop song that has sparked criticism for promoting rape culture.

Creative VAW Campaign 12: YES! Yes Equals Sex, anything else is rape – Ireland

YES! is a positive media campaign aiming to start a conversation on sexual consent. YES! works to get young people practising safe and consensual sex with good communication and respect.  YES! collaborates work with Student’s Unions and other groups to establish locally-focused, individually-tailored campaigns to encourage consent culture and empower young people to stop rape and sexual assault.

Creative VAW Campaign 13: Spoons for Stopping Forced Marriages – United Kingdom

Karma Nirvana, a charity which runs a helpline for victims of forced marriages, has been encouraging teenage South Asian girls who fear they are being taken abroad to enter into a forced marriage to hide a spoon or any other metal object in their underwear to set off the metal detector at the airport and avoid the flight at the last minute. Karma Nirvana founder, Jasvinder Sanghera, said, “When they go through security, it will highlight this object in a private area and, if 16 or over, they will be taken to a safe space where they have that one last opportunity to disclose they’re being forced to marry. We’ve had people ring and say that it’s helped them and got them out of a dangerous situation. It’s an incredibly difficult thing to do with your family around you – but they won’t be aware you have done it. It’s a safe way.”

Creative VAW Campaign 14: Noor: Shedding Light on Women’s Security Concerns – Libya 

The Voice of Libyan Women launched Noor: Shedding Light on Women’s Security Concerns in Libya. They utilised social media with #NoorLibya when the campaign launched on Friday, 5th of July (see press release). They deliberately chose the holy day of Friday, only days before the holy month of Ramadan, to launch the campaign, as it is a time which they believe the message is strengthened. In the Fall, they began seminars aimed at addressing women’s security issues throughout Libyan workplaces, schools, universities, and mosques, targeting audiences of both men and women, young and old.

Optimized-Andrew-e1369819511180Creative VAW Campaign 15: AWARE’s ‘We Can!’ campaign – Singapore

We Can! is a global campaign that has touched over 3.9 million individuals worldwide who have pledged not to commit or tolerate violence against women. Singapore is the 16th country to join the movement.

We Can! Singapore took off at the beginning of 2013. With the tagline ‘Change starts with me’, the campaign hopes to mobilise over 1,000 individual ‘Change Makers’ – ambassadors of gender equality and non-violence – through art, performance, sports, community networks, and new media.

Creative VAW Campaign 16: Campaign forces Facebook to stop rape, sex abuse posts, and more- Global

In May 2013, Women, Action & the Media, the Everyday Sexism Project and feminist author/activist Soraya Chemaly launched a campaign to call on Facebook to take concrete, effective action to end gender-based hate speech on its site. Since then, participants have sent over 60,000 tweets and 5,000 emails. Over 100 women’s movement and social justice organisations (including The Pixel Project) signed an open letter to Facebook and the organisers encouraged users of Facebook to send messages to its advertisers encouraging them to boycott Facebook until it addressed these concerns. Over seven days, men and women around the world sent more than 60,000 tweets using the hashtag #FBrape, and 5,000 e-mails to targeted advertisers, 16 of whom withdrew their advertising. Facebook has since pledged to evaluate and update policies, guidelines, and practices relating to speech and pictures that perpetuate violence against women and girls.

16 Safety Ideas and Tips for Women facing Domestic Violence over the Holiday Season

via McHenry County Turning Point http://www.mchenrycountyturningpoint.org

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence coincides with the start of the annual year-end holiday season in many parts of the world. During this period, Domestic Violence tends to spike due to a number of factors including:

  • Increased financial pressures
  • Increased alcohol and drug consumption
  • Increased family pressures and conflict
  • Increased contact with the abuser who may be on vacation for the holiday season.

In the final article in our 2012 “16 For 16” blog series, The Pixel Project presents 16 safety ideas and tips for women who continue to face Domestic Violence in their family lives. Given that Domestic Violence does not just affect the immediate victim but also their friends and extended family during this time of the year, we have divided the 16 ideas and tips into 2 categories:

  • One for victims/survivors
  • One for friends and family members who wish to take action to keep the victim/survivor safe.

If you have more tips, please share them in the comments box below this article so we can help everyone stay as safe as possible during the holiday season.

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For Victims/Survivors:

Idea/Tip Number 1: Put the right numbers on speed-dial. If you have a mobile phone, make sure to put the following numbers of speed-dial/in your address book:

  • The national Domestic Violence helpline (if your country has it)
  • The local Domestic Violence shelter helpline wherever you will be spending Christmas
  • The local police helpline number
  • The number of a close friend, co-worker or family member who can be on standby to get you out of the situation or act as witness.

For those who fear that their phone may be taken away from them, memorise all important numbers so, if need be, you can call from a public pay phone.

Idea/Tip Number 2: Have a ‘Safe’ word/phrase. In violent or emergency situations, you may not be able to text or say much. Have an agreed ‘safe’ word or phrase with your close friend/co-worker or family member who agrees to have their phone on standby to receive any emergency calls/texts. Keep it short and simple.

Idea/Tip Number 3: Download a safety app. If you have a smart phone, consider downloading a safety app for women, many of which have been designed to automatically alert your support network if you are in danger. Some safety apps include P.F.O. and Circle of 6.

Idea/Tip Number 4: Keep your phone (and some money) on you at all times. Also remember to keep it fully charged at all times. You will never know when a situation will erupt, so it is crucial to have it on hand, especially if you know you might be alone with your abuser. Also have cash in hand in case you need to make a run for your life.

Idea/Tip Number 5: Arrange for an ally in advance. If you are going to spend the holiday season with extended family and you know who would believe and support you, call that person in advance to ask him or her for support and intervention should a situation turn violent. This option may not be available for all victims/survivors but it would be a feasible one for many, especially if visiting their own parents, siblings, cousins etc.

Idea/Tip Number 6: Always have an audience. Use holiday visits to extended family and friends as a chance to minimise being alone with your abuser. At best, being in company will keep the violence in check. At worst, if violence does happen, it will happen publicly and you may have others stepping in to intervene or at least a few witnesses.

Idea/Tip Number 7: Defuse it. According to one police lieutenant, walking away from a potentially explosive situation may help temporarily alleviate the abuse and avoid fatalities:“A lot of times just stepping away from a situation to let it deescalate for that night or that certain time period is the best thing someone can do.” Plan ahead with an ally (a friend or family member who will be with you for Christmas and who will support you) to run interference and get your abuser distracted by food, alcohol, a sporting game, etc.

Idea/Tip Number 8: Have an escape plan. When you are away in a household that is not your own, quietly check out all possible escape routes in the house itself. Better yet, take time to set up a plan of escape including the numbers of people willing to help you get away. If there is a good chance that your abuser will be in a drunken or drug-induced sleep or stupor over the holidays, it may be your chance to escape with your kids and pets.

For Friends and Extended Families of Victims/Survivors

Idea/Tip Number 9: Be on standby. If you suspect your friend or family member of suffering from Domestic Violence, offer to be on standby for her text or call through the holiday season. Have your phone on and fully charged at all times and keep it on you. If you have a car and need to intervene immediately, make sure that the gas/petrol tank is full so you can get in and drive to get the victim/survivor immediately if need be.

Idea/Tip Number 10: Have an intervention plan. Work out a plan to get an intervention operation in action – have the following numbers on standby for your use:

  • The national Domestic Violence helpline (if your country has it)
  • The local Domestic Violence shelter helpline wherever the victim/survivor is located.
  • The local police wherever the victim/survivor is located.

Make sure to contact all of these should you receive an urgent SOS from the victim/survivor.

Idea/Tip Number 11: Get a partner. Intervening with Domestic Violence situations can be dangerous especially if the abuser has a weapon (e.g. a gun) and is intoxicated by drink or drugs. If you are unable to get help from the local shelter or police, make sure to bring another friend or family member along with you when you respond to the victim/survivor’s call in person.

Idea/Tip Number 12: Ring the bell. If you are the neighbour of a family experiencing Domestic Violence, please take the time to ring their bell when you hear a violent situation happening. You could use the old neighbourly approach of asking to borrow a cup of sugar or some milk as an excuse. If you feel that it could get dangerous, bring another person with you so there will be more than one witness. Check out what this guy did in a PSA by our partner, Bell Bajao:

Idea/Tip Number 13: Be the back-up. If your mother, sister, daughter, daughter-in-law, niece or cousin is facing Domestic Violence at home and there is a good chance that they will face abuse over the holiday season, let them know that you will be willing to be a witness or to intervene on their behalf while you are around. Also let them know that they are welcome to take refuge in your home should they need somewhere to go.

Idea/Tip Number 14: Be part of the plan. If a victim/survivor approaches you with a plan to escape her abuser during the holiday season, agree to do so and be on standby to help her and bolster her resolve when the time comes to put the plan into action.

Idea/Tip Number 15: Provide some relief. If your know a Domestic Violence victim/survivor who is being kept at home without relief during the holiday season, do a random act of kindness for her: Offer to babysit the children for a few hours while the abuser is out so she can have a breather; Send over some small festive goodies such as cookies, candy or something else traditional with a kind note; Offer to pick up groceries for her on your grocery run.

Idea/Tip Number 16: Check in regularly. If you fear for your friend or family member’s life over the holiday season, call or text her once a day at a random time to see if she is all right. If it’s your neighbour, keep an eye out on the house and your ears pricked for any signs or sounds of violence.

16 Ways to Help Your Local Domestic Violence Shelter

If you’ve been thinking about supporting issues pertaining to violence against women, one of the best times to start helping your local domestic violence is during the holiday season.  With The Pixel Project’s contribution to the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence being its new “16 for 16” blogging campaign, this blog post brings you 16 ways to help your local Domestic Violence Shelter and will hopefully give you a jumpstart to assist the needs of a local shelter in your area. Continue reading