Today I asked myself, what is violence? What does it actually means to me? For quite a while I thought about this then said “no one has perpetuated violence against me! I am still alive aren’t I? No one has raped me, shot me, cut me and certainly no one has killed me.” But still I was not convinced that my life was violence free.
I had interacted with some women whom had shared their experiences of violence during a sensitization session and I then realized that I had some similar ones too. Was this really violence though? Is it not normal for him to shout at me and call me names if I upset him? Everyone does it. Is it not his money to withhold from me when I refuse him sex? God knows I want the money but I hate laying with him. Is it not love when he wants me to stay at home not working? Being a man taking care of my needs? Surely it must be is what I was told.
So now I am questioning: Is it the way he hits me? Yells at me and tells me I will never find another man to love me the way he does? Is it when he gets paranoid that I am cheating and starts a fight? Is it when he comes in from work drunk, with no money to pay the bills nor feed the kids not even for one night? Is it when I am forced to perform sexual favors- the ones that replay in my mind countless times leaving me curled in a corner crying?
Now I realize it’s much more than the obvious heinous acts and the ones close to home. Violence against women has manifested itself in our communities as a commonality, as a cultural behavior. How do we change this? It has been this way for decades. Many argue that we need to sensitize older men and women alike on what violence actually is and our roles in preventing and ending all forms of violence. Many also believe that we have to change the mindset of the upcoming generation, to not have them believe that violence is anything other than what it is – violence.
For the 16 Days of Activism to end violence against women, I urge us all to get like me and become sensitized on violence, prevention, care and support. Violence is and violence has been. Get involved and END VIOLENCE AGAINST OUR WOMEN, CHILDREN AND THE NATION.
- Noya Davis