According to the World Health Organization, violence against women is not only a severe violation of women’s human rights, but also a major public health problem. So why is violence against women so largely ignored in mainstream media and what impression does this give kids about domestic violence? In light of International Women’s Day, Julie Cole discusses raising more awareness about this important issue.
Violence Against Women—Halton Women’s Place
Several weeks ago, I was driving with my daughters in the van and ahead of us was a vehicle that said Halton Women’s Place.
My 10-year-old daughter asked what that was. For a brief moment I was tempted to say it’s a nice place that women go to get their nails done, have a glass of champagne and spend time with their friends. But, being a kiddo truth teller (and not a kiddo question dodger), I did my best job of explaining that it is a place women escape to, often with their children, to get away from an abusive situation.
My daughter was shocked—a stream of comments and questions followed, including, “Dads really do that to the moms in the family?” and, “So the moms have to take their kids and hide from the dads?”
Yep, it would have been an easier conversation if I had stuck with the spa story.
Abused Women Close to Home
Fast forward two weeks. A local mama is murdered in her home by her ex-husband (and the father of her three young children). My 10-year-old notes that maybe she should have gone to that place where moms hide from dads.
Fast forward another couple of weeks when she asks why our family didn’t watch the Grammy Awards and I explain that it was because a man who has been abusive towards women was performing. I go on to give the history. Again, she learns that organizations like Halton Women’s Place don’t exist without reason.
Violence Against Women in Mainstream Media
When I asked a friend in education what the reaction of her kids at school has been to Chris Brown, she said, “The grade 6, 7, and 8 students seem to have no problem with what Brown did. The media really didn’t cover the seriousness of the incident, and the record companies and music blogs are constantly tweeting about his new music and videos to create excitement.” She continued to say there is a perception of romance now that the abuser and abused are working together in music, like some sort of “true love prevails” nonsense.
Are parents having conversations about violence with their kids? Are we leaving it all to the media? I’ve heard people respond to the Grammy fiasco, saying that what happens between an abuser and the abused is no one’s business. How is violence against women NOT our business? How many more times am I going to hear my daughter say, “I guess we still need Halton Women’s Place”?
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Have you discussed violence against women, and domestic violence, with your kids? What do you think about violence against women in the media? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.