My friend told me a story about the time her live-in boyfriend screamed so loudly at her while they were driving that she could feel the sound waves of his voice brush her cheek. She dismissed his anger at the time and blamed herself for upsetting him. Then months later, after they broke up, she started to piece together the other subtle and not so subtle ways that he had threatened her. She realized that she had spent almost two years in an abusive relationship.
I was reminded of that story when I came across this post, “13 Characteristics of Date/Acquaintance Rapists” and it occurred to me that several of my friends have shared similar stories about how they found themselves in abusive relationships and at first didn’t recognize it.
According to United Nation website, “Up to 70 percent of women experience violence in their lifetime.” And considering girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence and one quarter of high school girls have been physically or sexually abused, we know that the abuse can start in childhood.
The UN-sponsored International Day to End Violence Against Women is November 25. The Day also kicks off the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, an international campaign which runs until 10 December (Human Rights Day), inviting individuals and groups to mobilize and call for the elimination of violence against women and girls. We can only make a difference by talking about this issue and doing our best to let women and girls know that we will not accept abuse.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24/7: http://www.thehotline.org/
Elizabeth McBride is the director for intergenerational programing and editor of Cafe.
Elizabeth McBride is the director of intergenerational programs and editor of Café.