Fighting gender violence by allowing women to regain their equal and respected position in the society, advocating for women's rights, their universal and citizen's rights, as well as helping to support women in difficult situations, even if merely psychologically, is what we attempt to do here at Eglex.
Below is the summarised research on gender-based violence (GBV) and its common place in the family.
Why does Gender-based violence mainly affect women and girls?
Women and men experience violence in different contexts: while men are more likely to die as a result of armed conflict, violence by strangers and suicide, women are more likely to die at the hands of somebody they know, including intimate partners.
In many societies, prevailing attitudes subordinate women to men and entitle men to use violence to control women. These attitudes serve to justify, tolerate or condone violence against women.
A persistent issue seems to be the presence of patriarchal traditions, regardless of the country, cultural tradition, and the organisation itself.
These can also impact the culture of support services which at times relate to a woman mainly as a "victim to be supported" rather than a survivor with her own strengths and abilities.
Women survivors of violence face specific barriers when seeking access to support services. This is because women have fewer resources and options to access justice, care and support, as a result of discrimination and their lower position in society.
Often, legal systems and the authorities implementing the laws ignore or fail to adequately respond to violence against women.
While GBV occurs to women in all areas of life, why is the family the place where women experience the most violence?
It is a combination of several factors that increase the risk of a man committing violence and the risk of a woman experiencing violence.
For example, Society-level factors include the cultural and social norms that shape gender roles and the unequal distribution of power between women and men. Intimate partner violence occurs more often in societies where men have economic and decision-making powers in the household and where women do not have easy access to divorce and where adults routinely resort to violence to resolve their conflicts.
Apart from physical and sexual violence that cause injuries and might therefore be easier to detect, women’s experiences of psychological and economic violence should not be overlooked as they may also have significant negative consequences on women’s health.
The topic of power and control has been a part of the feminist theory of intimate partner abuse since the 1970s and was conceptualised in different models that aimed at understanding men’s tactics of power and control over women.
The normalisation of violence means that women often don't report violence because they regard it as manifestation of their own failure, and are reluctant to identify themselves as being "victims" and their partners as "abusers".
Domestic abuse support often begins with a psychoeducational element of helping women to name their experiences as abuse and recognising the power imbalance within the relationship. An acute awareness of these power dynamics creates opportunities for women-only services to model healthy expressions of power to women and children.
Myths and stereotypical attitudes about GBV shape the way in which society perceives and responds to violence perpetrated against women.
Here are a selected few:
Myth 1: Women allow intimate partner violence to happen to them and if they really want to, they can leave their abusive partners.
Fact: It is important to understand that women who experienced violence from an intimate partner and seek to leave the relationship in order to ensure their own and their children’s safety paradoxically face an increased risk of repeating and even escalating violence. Women are also prevented from leaving violent relationships due to feelings of shame and guilt, lack of safe housing, or the belief that divorce is wrong for children (adapted from Hagemeister et al 2003).
Myth 2: Men and women are equally violent to each other.
Fact: Numerous recent research (too long to list here) indicated that the majority of those affected by GBV, in particular intimate partner violence, are women and girls.
Myth 3: GBV only includes physical abuse (hitting, punching, biting, slapping, pushing, etc.)
Fact: Prevalence research from Romania shows that 18,5% of women experienced psychological violence from family members including intimate partners; the percentage for economic violence was 5,3% (Centrul de Sociologie Urbana si Regionala 2008). Some studies show that women often consider psychological abuse and humiliation more devastating than physical assault (Casey 1988, cited inHeise et al 1994).
The consequences of GBV are such that they seriously affect all aspects of women’s health- physical, sexual and reproductive, mental and behavioural health.
The above consequences of GBV are not merely economic for the society. As trained therapists, we know from experience (from the case stories of our clients) that violence perpetutates violence, fear perpetutates fear, suffering causes more suffering, abandonment is repeated - through invisible energetic lines that cross over genders, generations, not only in one family lineage, but across the whole society...