I Stand Against Violence

1/12/2021

Women who experience violence are not victims. We are women of strength.

We are lucky enough to have activism in many countries helping the plight on gender rights, equality, inclusion, and women’s violence. There are many countries where violence “although frowned upon” is still part of “cultural norm”. I am not speaking of countries with a lower infrastructure, but countries that are considered Westernised. If you look in the local papers of many European countries, there are many cases of death by spouse and assault in the streets. It does not just affect women in one part of the globe. It is still widespread and is as horrifying as attacks against the LGBTQ+ community.

This year for Violence Against Women Day, I am going to share two very personal stories to highlight violence can happen in any form and leave lifelong scars for some. I am sharing our stories in the hope it helps someone to share their story too. Please go to our Instagram page and get involved using the #IStandAgainstViolence @mind_fulminutelimited or our twitter account @MinuteLondon. 

In my many years growing up I have witnessed and been subject to acts of violence towards women. Does an act of violence consist of only physical harm and invasion? I think not. The abuse suffered by many women mentally is an act of violence. Anything that makes women feel used, like nothing, anxious, afraid, violated, targeted, sexualised is all an act of violence.

With the growing number of terrible tragedies in the news across the world, including women being murdered, trafficked, and having their drinks spiked or injected, “I ask why is more not being done by those in power to stop this?”. Is it possible to stop this? How can you re-educate the perpetrators who have perhaps grown up in a culture or environment where it is acceptable to hit or abuse women? Does it start with school children, at home, or is it up to all of society to say enough is enough? How can women be made to feel safe whilst walking home late at night? Does the sentencing of such criminals need to be harsher? Do the people dealing with the attacked need better training and an understanding of the trauma that arises after such an attack? There are too many questions.

From my own experience which I have spoken about on social media, I was lucky enough to know some ways to move beyond and heal. What about the women who find themselves alone without any support infrastructure?

When a sentence is given for a perpetrator, it should be a requirement to have in-depth therapy in order to restructure the psychological thought process. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) can assist with a variety of mental health needs for both the perpetrators and those attacked. The mindset can be reformed to assist in this atrocity and should not be an afterthought.

 

My Experience Of Violence Against Women

If you haven’t seen my video, I will briefly speak about one situation I experienced. I have also been given permission by a very dear friend to relay her experience of violence. I hope women reading this realise you are not alone; this is unacceptable and needs to be nipped in the bud. I am sorry you have had to go through this. It was not your fault.

My situation is far less harrowing than the many I have heard about; however it highlights that there are many varying forms of violence towards women and it can affect us all. There is less violence towards men as they often have the physical strength to fight back. This is a power struggle.

One New Years Eve I had finished the evening with my friends. It had been a wonderful evening full of good cheer and positivity. My friends left as I only had to walk one minute to my apartment which was directly across from the complex restaurant. As I put my key fob on the access pad I was grabbed from behind around the neck. I was dragged backwards towards a wall next to the Thames. It happened so quickly but I remember trying to scream but I had lost my voice. No sound would come out. My attacker began banging my head on the brick wall. Again and again. I was in a dream state and almost watching what was being done to me, allowing it to happen. He was frothing at the mouth and his eyes were manic. At some point I came to my senses. A feeling of anger bubbled up inside and spilled out as I shouted:

“What are you doing?” “You don’t need to do this”.

He spat back that he was going to throw my body in the Thames. I screamed like a banshee. Luckily for me at that point a restaurant waiter had popped out for a smoke, and he saw what was happening. The attacker ran off. I don’t remember too clearly what happened after that. I was laying on the floor, perhaps I passed out. The medical team were there, as were the police. I don’t remember giving a statement, I remember it being very chaotic. There was however no one with any type of mental health training on hand to tell me it was ok. That it wasn’t my fault. I had a concussion and suffered vomiting and faintness. Luckily no long-term damage had been done. Someone had to stay with me due to my concussion. I felt ashamed. I felt like it was my fault, and these feelings were greater than my head injury. I had the mental health training to deal with the attack. I managed to forgive my attacker after some time. He was never caught, and I feared for the next woman he would meet.

Afterwards I would run every day and meditate more than I had before which saved my mental health. I had the mind set to deal with it. Many women are not so lucky. I always knew that evening could have been so much worse and that I was lucky. The following NYE after the attack I could not go out. Regardless of how I had dealt with my feelings and emotions it was still a trigger and I stayed home.

My Friends Experience Of Violence Against Women

My friend’s experience was in Barcelona. She had been in a nightclub on the beach front. She had become separated from her friends and met a guy she started speaking with. She had consumed a few drinks and had let her guard down when she started speaking to her attacker. She told me she remembers so clearly when she returned from the bathroom, her drink looking “fizzy” and she had even said to the guy you didn’t spike my drink did you. In those days there was less in the media about spike attacks. She even remembers his snarl when he laughed and told her not to be silly. That was as much as she remembered. She woke in the morning in a high-end hotel room next to the man and several other men lying on the floor around the hotel room. She felt like she had been hit by a train. It was the worst hangover she had ever experienced, and she could hold her drink. The men all started joking about her attacker and how he was like an elephant in size. They made many sexualised jokes all at her expense. She knew she had been raped as she could feel it. She didn’t know by how many of these men, but she knew it was gruesome. She found it difficult to move and get dressed. All the men were laughing and joking. She went for her shoes and her heel was broken. She noticed a rip in her clothes and could not find her undergarments. One of the men called her a taxi. The last thing that was said to her was:

“No hard feelings, we were just having some fun, we bought your drinks after all.”

My friend was not in her own country. The men had been Israeli and she was afraid to approach the Spanish authorities as she did not speak the language. She went back to her hotel room and began drinking. She didn’t know what else to do. She felt disgusting and she told me the first thing that came to her mind was she should not have been drinking. She felt that she would be blamed for going out and having a good time. This was more than a decade ago, but she still suffers from flashbacks. Although at the time she couldn’t remember due to being spiked, she has one image play over and over in her mind and that is the start of the attack with the man holding her down. That is all she remembers. It was a delayed response. She can never visit Barcelona as it would be a trigger for her. She has had ongoing therapy all this time and although she has addressed the many aspects of her attack and dealt with the guilt, she tells me she will never be whole again. She stopped drinking after that and tells me that is one of the good things that came from the terrible experience.

I remember a novel approach to raising awareness on violence against women, it was around 2006, a French dating site Happn used photos of women bruised in some way to highlight the violence and sexual abuse, these would pop up in searches for dates on the dating app for both men and women. Do we need a more effective approach? Of course we do.

That was some time ago, yet it seems if we look at statics that violence against women or LGBTQ+ is actually still very high. Estimates published by WHO indicate that globally about 1 in 3 (30%) of women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Most of this violence is intimate partner violence. For our LGBTQ+ community, 3 in 5 people have been affected by violence. Sadly only 1 in 8 have been able to access support. In the U.K. a total of 61,158 rape offences recorded in the year ending June 2021. For men just as a comparison, it states 1 in 7 men will be affected by domestic violence. I have not included the statistics for other forms of violence against men. Please note these statistics may vary on other platforms. When a woman experiences many of these forms of violence, she is ashamed. The thought of having to relay what happened to someone she does not know can increase the trauma. The stigma attached to these horrifying events needs to be addressed. Many women, out of shame, will simply bury what happened to them. Of course, this trauma will come up in other areas of their life and affect them deeply. One act from a man, or in limited cases a woman, towards an individual simply going about their day has a lifelong effect. The need to protect individuals for a better society, as this affects everyone of us, is as important as the climate crisis. When we assist someone who has gone through violence, we have experienced it ourselves so we can relate in some way. Anyone who is the first point of contact for a violence survivor, within the system, should be hired based on their actual experience, not that they have simply attended a course, no matter how compassionate they are. Someone who has been attacked may like to know that it has happened to the person helping them. It would go towards lessening the pain and shame.

Personally, I feel a greater need for a mental health focus for all genders would be the most effective route to go down. As I stated previously, if mental health was used when sentencing, (sadly many are not sentenced),charging individuals it may create a re-education of mindset needed by many. In some case the violence stems directly from the perpetrator’s mental health that has not been addressed either from childhood or the present. As well as this, we need to empower women around the globe more than ever. Work on self-esteem, self-love, confidence and inner well-being can help many women. This is not to say in any way that the woman has any fault. It has been my experience that the simple fact I had the benefit of having a strong mental health foundation when I was attacked, which meant I was able to heal with greater ease. Women have been victims of violence throughout history, how can we change that? Women are not victims let us use the mental health methods that are readily available to us and turn these atrocities into a positive in some shape or form. Let’s come together and really support each other, to create a safe space for women to have an open dialogue. Let’s stand together and form a protective ring around who we are and what we stand for. Women of strength. Women who will not accept such behaviours.

I stand for my daughter and your daughter too. I stand for your son, the men of the future.

Healing scars from emotional abuse and physical violence can be helped greatly with reiki. We offer distance reiki sessions due to the pandemic and these are just as effective, and they allow you the privacy if you so wish to let out all your emotions during or after the sessions.

There are many wonderful charities and we ourselves offer our services to those in need. Today I wish to highlight that anyone who has suffered violence in any form can contact us for free support. Our WhatsApp number is+447840323133 and we are available to anyone worldwide. Message us if you feel unable to speak. Our email address is mindfulminute@mindfulminute.uk

related articles

see all

feeling inspired?

the egalitarian is a growing community, and we're always looking to expand our horizons. To pitch us your idea for an article, navigate to our form below. For enquiries about talks, podcasts or anything else, give us an email.
I want to pitch an ideaI have another enquiry

stay updated

exclusive merch drops, early podcasts and general updates
Thank you!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.