I’ve just signed a petition on Care2; ‘Stand with women working to end gender-based violence‘.
The petition calls on the UK Government to fund the women’s groups working towards ending violence against women, and as such resonates with me and my past. They mention that one in three girls and women suffer violence in their lives. I think it’s higher than that, but I’ll take their word for it. It’s vitally important that this issue is faced head on and that Government, and us, takes the opportunities offered to make a difference.
I am one of those three girls and my mother was one of those three women….my sisters to a lesser and in some instances greater extent, were also one of those girls. We lived with extreme violence for much of our growing up lives; emotional, physical, mental and yes, even sexual violence, much of it directed at my Mother who eventually caved in under the onslaught….yes, she died. Aged 52. I know the official verdict was stroke, but I feel it was despair. She ate too much, she drank too much, she smoked too much, she lived under some of the most dire circumstances (in all three of her marriages)….and all of those combined to kill her….and what the coroner didn’t say was that all these too much ofs that she partook of were caused by stress and despair and pressure.
I don’t consider myself a victim, although in my younger years I felt victimised. I’ve grown up, I’ve become tougher.
But the scars remain. Those same scars affected how I raised my daughter and that affects her still today. I won’t ever say I hate men, coz I don’t, on the contrary. However, my language right through my adult life and through my daughter’s growing up years has been negative; urgh men!! You can’t trust a man. Never trust a man. Well what can you expect; he’s a man!! – you get the idea….I never realised how powerful those messages were to a young brain growing up, and now it’s too late….the dye has been set and she finds it really difficult to form a lasting attachment or relationship. I set the boat on the water and I tore down the sails.
My sisters and I have all grown up to be tough, strong women, proud of who we have become. We don’t cave in. We don’t suffer fools. We don’t, with the exception of my younger sister (from my Mother’s side – 3rd marriage), have successful relationships with men. They are always fraught with anxiety, frustration, angst and determination to not be ‘the weaker sex’. I gave up on relationships 13 years ago. I can’t be who I become when I’m in a relationship.
There is an inordinate amount of violence towards women. Culturally (and I’m talking about world-wide culture in all ethnic groups bar a few). We, (and yes even in our enlightened Western culture) have been raised to believe that women are ‘the weaker sex’, of lesser importance (see the ongoing debate about salaries and managerial positions). If you look at many cultures today they are still fiercely Patriarchal. Women are refused entry to, kept out of, stopped from doing, have to ask permission of, cannot marry freely, are repressed and vilified, their natural cycles considered bad, disgusting, and a reason for being kept behind closed doors; being forced to stay behind closed doors is a more reasonable assumption. My first marriage rendered me unable to even open a Bank Account without my husbands a) permission b) signature and that was in 1972.
So that said, and oh I have SO much more to say, especially with this recent humiliation and repression of a Muslim woman in France, I ask you to please sign the petition. Thank you.
If however, you feel you don’t want to sign the petition, then please step-up, become an advocate for women, look out for signs of violence…those bruised eyes, the broken arms, the cowered down-cast expression, the sudden withdrawal from society, and if you see it…do take action. It could be within your own family. It was within ours. And no-one stepped up.