Friday, 12 August 2011

One in four women

What do you think that proportion relates to? It could be many things, couldn't it? In fact, I'm sure it is. Google it and I bet there are lots of answers. Sadly, the 1 in 4 women stat that I’m going to quote to you today is this: 1 in 4 women experiences domestic violence in their lives. That's twice as many women that suffer from breast cancer.

I am one of the “1 in 4s”. If you read this post that I wrote in April, you'd know that about me. I survived. I came through the other side. I did it on my own. Sometimes even now, I struggle with my self-esteem and I know that its root cause is almost certainly what happened to me, admittedly a long, long time ago. I wrote that post to help others going through domestic violence. Helping others is important to me because although 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence, they shouldn’t have to live with it.

Today, domestic violence is the biggest issue affecting women and children in this country. The effect on the children of abused women cannot be underestimated. I am very grateful that I didn’t have children when it happened to me, and that my children didn’t have to experience it because I believe that is one way it is passed on down through the generations; children living with abuse often become abusers because that is what they know. I know that is true in the case of my ex. By all accounts, his own dad was a monster and his mum lived in a permanent state of terror; yet, he hero-worshipped his dad, who was by then dead.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, for three years, the charity Refuge and Avon have worked together to raise awareness of domestic violence and to support women suffering in silence. Because they do. I never told anybody what was happening to me because I was ashamed I’d let myself – a reasonably articulate and intelligent woman (I think!) – get into the situation, and for a long time, I felt trapped. As the abuse levelled at me was largely emotional, there were no obvious physical signs that anything was wrong that others could have suspected what was going on; nothing for me to point to and say “he did this”. There was nothing to report apart from the one occasion when I got a slap on the face, and the police gave him a lecture. Only 16 percent of women report incidents to the police.

On Thursday, a new Facebook page was launched which will put these figures into perspective in your world. The 1in4women campaign aims to help women learn and recognise the signs of domestic violence so that they can support a friend who might be suffering now, or in the future. The hope is that it will help to give women the skills to help make this stop. You can also purchase empowerment jewellery, the proceeds of which go directly to support domestic violence charities.

If you want to find out more about domestic violence, join in by liking the 1in4women page – and perhaps sharing it with your Facebook friends. If you would like to spread the word on twitter, why not tweet this:

#1in4women experience domestic violence. I’m supporting @Avon_UK & @RefugeCharity to help break the silence

Please help spread the word, however you can. As soon as I heard about this initiative, I knew I had to write about it. Because I am one of the 1 in 4s and I am not ashamed of that. I know I was lucky; not everyone is. The more people that know how to help sufferers of domestic violence, the more survivors there will be. 
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