10 Steps to Help Decrease Violence against Women
BY DIANE A. THOMPSON, MD
Jamaica is no stranger to violence against women with media reports of multiple episodes of domestic violence occurring everyday. Amnesty International indicates that about 17 % of 13 and 14 year olds in Kingston, Jamaica had experienced rape or attempted rape, the majority by adult casual acquaintances. Violence against women comes in many forms and includes domestic violence or intimate partner violence, mental abuse, sexual abuse, stalking, and murder. Domestic violence is a global issue affecting millions of women, and reaches across socioeconomic, religious, racial, cultural, and class distinctions. Although women ages 20-24 are at the greatest risk, violence against women starts at a young age with more than 22% of female victims experiencing some form of intimate partner violence for the first time between the ages of 11 and 17 years.
Here are 10 simple things you can do to help decrease violence against women:
1. Educate yourself about the many forms of violence against women. Education increases the chance that you will recognize abuse when you see it, which raises the likelihood of you doing something about it.
2. Break the silence. “If you see something, say something,” is the popular saying in New York which encourages residents to notify the police of suspicious activities. The same recommendation is good practice when it comes to domestic abuse. Call the police if you think you see signs of abuse. It is better to err on the side of caution than to ignore the signs when you have the chance to save a life.
3. Begin the education at a young age. Teach your children that violence in any form is wrong, and think carefully about the things to which your children are exposed. Some of the risk factors for being a victim of intimate partner and sexual violence include low education, witnessing violence between parents, and childhood exposure to abuse or to attitudes accepting violence and gender inequality. In fact, according to the National Coalition against domestic violence, witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. So that children exposed to violence may become adults who either dole out violence or accept being victims of violence.
4. Help your daughter build her self-esteem. It is often found that many women who accept and stay in an abusive relationship suffer from low self-esteem. Some of these women may believe they are unworthy of better. It is therefore imperative that young girls are taught their value at an early age and efforts should be made to project positive images of women.
5. Encourage formal education. Although domestic abuse occurs in every segment of society, there is a greater likelihood that the victim of abuse is a woman with little education and of a low socioeconomic background. Education increases the chance that a woman will be financially stable and self-sufficient, which may make it less likely for her to accept certain abusive behaviors.
6. Teach your children the art of conflict resolution. Conflict occurs to some degree in all human relationships. Conflict that is handled poorly can lead to frustration and become the breeding ground for violence. If handled well, it can lead to solutions and improved relationships.
7. Make use of teachable moments. Say something when inappropriate comments are made that encourages violence against women.
8. Volunteer and mentor a youth. You very well may be the person who teaches them not to abuse or accept being abused
9. Offer your support. Often, the victims of abuse may feel ashamed and alone. Offer your non-judgmental support and encouragement to a woman who is going through domestic abuse.
10. Walk the walk. Show your support by joining an anti-domestic abuse organization or donating to reputable anti-violence groups.
DR. DIANE A. THOMPSON is the health correspondent for the Re:Imagine Jamaica Project. Born in St. Catherine, Jamaica, Dr. Thompson is a physician, author, speaker, and radio host of the popular and syndicated show ‘Health Talk with Dr. Diane MD,’ which is aired on ‘Atlanta’s Incredible Radio’ 1570 AM WIGO on Thursday at 7-8 pm EST, FMG Radio on Mondays at 5 pm EST, and Blog Talk Radio on Sundays at 6:30 pm EST. The show offers the best in inspirational health information. She may be contacted at www.drdianethompson.com or http://www.facebook.com/DrDianeAThompson