How to Address Violence in All of its Forms
When we speak about “violence” people often imagine the physical kind, but in most of our day-to-day lives, violence is often of the verbal and emotional variety. Domestic violence often involves a varying degree of intimidation, criticism and insults, and threats, — as well as someone’s control over their partner’s money, where they can go, what they can do, and even outside relationships (who they can and can’t see). It often starts subtly and slowly, but escalates to the point where an individual feels trapped, scared and alone.
When it comes to intervening in these situations, even the most well-intentioned of us won’t speak up if we witness this kind of violence or hear something that condones it.
So, what’s a good way to call attention to something you hear or see, perhaps without being overly confrontational?
We may fear our instincts are wrong or worry that we’re being nosy, intrusive, or even just uncool. The truth is, silence can be harmful. It’s an affirmation that what you’re witnessing or hearing is OK.
What Can You Do?
Being an active bystander means more than just stepping in between a man who’s being abusive toward a woman. It means stopping violence before it starts — by stopping behaviors or actions that normalize violence. You don’t have to make a huge ordeal out of calling someone out. Even the simplest of actions or words can make a difference — and it doesn’t need to be done in front of everyone or in the moment. You can send the person a text, email, or even privately pull someone aside later to talk about it.
Actions speak volumes as well…
Treat those around you with respect. If you’re a man, treat women respectfully in front of male friends who look up to you and care about your opinions. If you’re a woman, do the same in front of your friends.
No one deserves to be threatened, hit, intimidated, ridiculed, raped, or stalked. No one asks for it. No one likes it.
Convey your feelings and principles. Let the person know what you don’t think is appropriate about their words, actions or behavior, and why.
Ask for an explanation to a comment or statement made to you that doesn’t sit well. Questions require us to think more critically.
Change begins with one intervention at a time and everyone has a stake in ending domestic violence.