In 1994, I was sat cowering in a chair afraid of the blows that were going to be rained upon me due to the volatile temper of my then-boyfriend. Tall, dark and handsome, he was the centre of many women’s dreams back then, and I was his star, so I thought, because he chose to be with me. But the fantasy was short-lived. Soon the adoring smiles soon turned into snarls of jealously the moment any member of the opposite sex did as little as aim a warm smile in my direction.
This day, almost 30 years ago, I was suspected of cheating. He’d jumped into my bedroom window, determined to catch whoever he thought was in my house. He searched and searched as I stood by terrified—even under the bed. When he couldn’t find what didn’t exist, he shouted at me and pushed me down into a chair. Frustrated and maybe even embarrassed at his mistake, he shouted furiously at me as he threatened to hit me. And while he didn’t, he instead chose to spit in my face. The most disgusting expression of disdain. I think I would have preferred the unwarranted slap.
In 2005, while unknowingly pregnant, I was set upon by my boyfriend. He was upset because I was “too popular” and everyone was speaking to me at a wedding we were attending. I will never forget that July weekend as long as I live. I recall being so tired of the quiet name calling (he was whispering in my ear telling me how fat and ugly I was) that I just got up without saying a word and left the venue. I drove to a park and cried my eyes out for hours, wondering how did I end up here?
A few hours later, I went home and thought I would be in solitude. Yet within minutes there was a bang on my door. As soon as I opened it, I was greeted with a kick to the chest. I landed so hard my shoulder was dislocated.
In 2008, I had to have my shoulder surgically tightened.
Why am I sharing this? Because according to the United Nations (UN), nearly 1 in 3 women have been abused during their lifetime. Since the pandemic started, it has been reported that 2 out of 3 women reported that they have or a woman they know has experienced some form of violence.
How many suffer in silence?
Thankfully, for me, those days have long passed and I have chosen to have a voice; yet so many women do not, either because they are afraid or they feel they won’t be heard.
Today is the UN’s Day For The Elimination Of Violence Against Women. As a community, we must work collectively to protect women. Abuse is preventable but to eliminate it is not a quick fix, nor one size fits all. But every action committed to its prevention is a step in the right direction.
It’s vital for people to understand that abuse doesn’t always mean enduring a physical blow, but can also show its head in the form of psychological abuse (“You are dumb. No one wants you. You can’t cook. You are stupid.”), sexual violence and harassment, human trafficking, child marriage and female genital mutilation.
If you are interested in learning more about how you can do your part to eliminate violence towards women, today launches the 16 day campaign, UNiTE to End Violence Against Women. Click here to learn how you can participate.
In keeping with the theme, Orange the World: End Violence Against Women Now! if you see orange lights adorning buildings or landmarks, remember your commitment to bringing violence towards women to an end.
You are loved.