Sunday, May 19, 2013

What to do About the Prevalence of Abuse Towards Women

This is an ironic topic to write about, in light of Mother’s Day just passing. However, the prevalence of men and boys being disrespectful and abusive to their female counterparts astounds me. I’ve seen so much of it lately.

A Teens Only’s photo against domestic violence was posted on Facebook recently, that said, “Real men don’t hit women.” And the one comment about it said, “Real women aren’t whores.” I was stunned. I wanted to respond to it but held back, thinking it wasn’t worth feeding into this guy’s anger.

Then I saw a post on Linked In about a male lawyer that approached a woman at a business convention and asked, “Who’s taking care of the baby at home?” Talk about trying to undermine a person’s sense of integrity. That one prompted a never-ending thread of responses!

On Dr. Phil, “Whore!” and “Garbage!” seemed one man’s favorite references to a woman he’d been in a long-term relationship with (May 1, 2013). I was surprised the good Dr. allowed this man to berate his partner outwardly like that on his show. Good ratings, perhaps. Although, telling this guy straight out that abuse toward women is not accepted on his show would have sent a clear message to the guy and other men watching.

And sadly, upon completing a three part series on bullying (“Strong Communities: A Buffer Against Bullying, Healthy Living Magazine, Spring 2013), I learned of the rape, bullying and resulting self-hanging of Rehtaeh Parsons. No charges were laid for the “alleged” rape and the case was dropped. What kind of message does this send? Is it really ok to rape someone, take pictures of it, and then pass them around the school for over a year, until she takes her life? And what’s wrong with the kids that think this is funny or that know about it and don’t do or say anything? This is wrong on so many levels.

And as a mother of a little girl, compassion can only begin to describe my feelings for what Rehtaeh suffered, and for what her mother must be going through.

And if these stories weren’t enough in a short time period, W5 featured a story about women in Delhi, India being at a huge risk for getting raped if they’re out after dark (“Rapes and assaults against women paint an ugly picture of India,” April, 2013).

One 23-year-old woman’s death sparked public outrage and international attention. “Gang-raped, she was punched, bitten and tortured with a metal rod. Her internal injuries were so severe, her intestines had been torn apart,” according to W5. This is what it took for India to start to change its laws.

It’s sad that such a horrific crime has to happen before people really take notice and act. Why aren’t we acting before women are brutally harmed?

The more we stand by and allow harm to come, the more it will. At the other end of the spectrum, the more we stand up to it, the more we prevent it. Action is critical.

We can refuse to be bystanders to disrespect toward women – on any level, volunteer with organizations that support this cause, and model empathy, compassion and provide positive role models for our children (in this case, especially boys), and help them express their emotions constructively (or get support where needed), so they don’t escalate as they get older.

And we can instill self-worth in our girls. According to Dr. Sears, M.D.:
  •  Being responsive and listening, says, “You’re worthwhile.”
  •  Quality time together, sends the message, “You’re worth my time.”
  •  Setting her up for success, by helping her develop her talents and skills, teaches her, “I can.”
  •  Loving her for who she is (regardless of her achievements), tells her, I am valued.”
The following is also a great link - for men, kids and teens (girls and boys), women and concerned friends - with tips for information regarding ending violence against women.

The more we reach out and support each other the healthier we’ll all be.

Related Articles

1. “The Family Stress of Bullying,” Healthy Living Magazine (Volume 10, Issue 1).
2. “How to Combat the Stress of Bullying” Healthy Living Magazine (Volume 9, Issue 4).
3. “Social Connections: People Fare Better When They Flock Together,” Alive Magazine (July 2010). 
4. “I Hate You!” Patterson, C. A., Syndicated Column, (May, 2013).    


1. CTV News, “N.S. teen took her own life after rape, bullying, mother says,” (April, 2013).
2. Frayer, J. M., W5, “Rapes and assaults against women paint an ugly picture of India,” (April, 2013).  
3. Public Safety Canada, “Bullying Prevention in Schools,” A study by the National Crime Prevention    Center (NCPC), (2011).  
4. Sears, B., M.D., “12 Ways to Help Your Child Build Self-Confidence,” (2013).  
5. Government of Ontario, “November: Woman Abuse Prevention Month – Tips,” (2013).