Annette Ejiofor: Stopping The Cycle Of Violence Against Women

Annette Ejiofor

By Annette Ejiofor, Associate Editor

In September of this year, in a city just outside of Ottawa, the bodies of Carol Culleton, 66, Anastasia Kuzyk, 36, and Nathalie Warmerdam, 48, were found at separate locations by Ontario Provincial Police. Basil Borutski, 57, has since been charged with their murder. Indigenous activists in Canada have estimated that more than 3,000 aboriginal women have been victims of homicide since 1980, and the issue is ongoing and in need of extreme attention. Violence against women is not an just a Canadian issue, it is world wide.

The Canadian Women’s Foundation reports that: “On any given day in Canada, more than 3,300 women (along with their 3,000 children) are forced to sleep in an emergency shelter to escape domestic violence. Every night, about 200 women are turned away because the shelters are full.” A new study from the organization, reveals that while almost all Canadians (96%) agree that sexual activity between partners should be consensual, two-thirds of Canadians (67%) do not understand what it means. With violence against women being more apparent than ever, it questions why this occurrence.

Statistics and theoretical approaches prove that violence against women is first learned from immediate surroundings and then encouraged by society. There is sexual, physical, verbal, psychological and/or emotional, and financial abuse. Sexual abuse is defined as any unwanted touching, forced sexual intercourse and any non-consensual sexual act . Contrary to popular belief, your husband and/or your boyfriend, can indeed, sexually abuse you.

Physical abuse is the use of physical force resulting in pain, discomfort, injury, and/or murder. Other forms of abuse include: medication abuse (inappropriate use of or unlawful withholding of medication); restraints abuse, such as forcible confinement or unwarranted use of restraints. Verbal abuse occurs when an individual uses language, spoken or written, to cause harm to a person.

Psychological abuse happens when an individual uses threats and causes fear in a person to gain control of that individual. Emotional abuse occurs when an individual says or does something to make a person feel stupid and/or worthless. Financial abuse happens when an individual controls a person’s financial resources without the person’s consent and/or misuses those resources.

Thank you to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for clearly defining these forms of abuse. It is important that I listed the examples for each of these forms in case you reading are a victim and survivor, of any or all of these examples. At the end of this article will be resources where you can contact for help, support, aid, and/or, escape.

So how is abuse learned and encouraged by society? Although abuse is not initially defined by gender, abuse is disproportionately done against women, especially within intimate partner relationships. Women are at greater risk of danger within their homes, than walking down the street. Men, young boys, who witness the forms and examples of abuse mentioned above, and even any other forms and examples of abuse, are being taught how to handle those they love, how to treat women, and how to handle their emotions.

The Montreal Massacre of fourteen women at the École Polytechnique, in 1989 by Marc Lépine, is considered to have occurred for these very same reasons. Lépine grew up watching his father abuse his mother, as well as being a victim of abuse as well, and as an end result, believed in the inherent subordination of women.

There is no such thing as an inherent devalue of a woman. This belief stretches back to historical religious and scientifically flawed assertions. I speak about this in my article on HonestlyAnnette.com , titled, Why Men Enjoy Making Fun Of Women. It ties back to the age old belief of women being intellectually and physically weaker, due to their biology. Aristotle defined the male as active and the female as passive; the male as rational and the female as emotional; and finally, the male as “normal” and the female as “departure.” Historically, arguments made regarding the female’s organs being internal, versus external, like their male counterpart, have been proof enough of their obvious inferiority. This was a scientific explanation. Women have been defined as the lesser (keeping in mind the double edged sword of intersectionality with women of colour) for simply being able to reproduce. The idea was that women exerted a vast amount of energy into reproduction and so had no more energy for other aspects of life.

Dating back even further, religiously with Christianity, Eve is seen as the temptress. Eve is the reason for all the ails and evils of human life. Eve is why Adam ate the forbidden fruit. Historically, and presently, men have felt the need to degrade women based on their own perceptions of what should and can degrade their fellow human being. White men in colonial times came and colonized the societies we live in today. They colonized the Indigenous lands and people. Indigenous people were matriarchal prior to this colonization. Everything flowed from the mother and the women. Women chose leaders and performed many other tasks where they sat at the head. Colonization altered our many belief systems and it is important to remember this, especially for people of colour, and men of colour reading this. If you believe in the subordination of women, you are still reaping the negative effects of colonization (which many of us still are irregardless of the topic). Colonization is still here with us today. Check out the Indian Act for example.

Without diving too much into that topic, I believe you understand now how the immediate surroundings, your children, especially your sons, are placed in, can either negatively or positively impact his life. It does not help us to strictly define what is and what is not masculine, and what is and what is not feminine, because in doing so, we are portraying one as the lesser – that of the feminine calibre. But, society takes advantage of this subordination and encourages it.

According to author, speaker, and internationally recognized filmmaker Jean Kilbourne, advertisements sell us cultural meanings, not products. Advertisements show and tell us that women’s number-one value and use are their bodies. Advertisements and the media and entertainment we consume, show us that women, and characteristics feminine, are ranked lower and any sight of femininity within masculinity, must be condemned and stopped. The worst insult a man can receive, proven not my opinion, is calling the man “gay” and/or homosexual. Anything that is not the normative heterosexual male, and all that encompasses it, is the lesser. We are told that to be a man means to bear arms, to settle disputes violently, to be paid more than any other gender due being a male, and that privilege is your best friend. Our individual environments and surroundings influence our behaviour and then society has the potential to encourage said behaviour.

To target violence against women, an increasingly growing problem in all societies worldwide, including honour killings, we must adjust our mindsets to understand equality. Society must encourage, show, and highlight equality through the law, media, entertainment, everyday interactions, and through everyday discussions. Misogynistic commentary can no longer be laughed away. Men who have and/or who are witnessing abuse and/or experiencing abuse, and/or being the abuser, should reach out to helpful services. As should women but as my article has stated, intimate partner violence/ domestic violence/abuse happens more to women than men.

I would suggest that anyone who disagreed with my sentiments, re-read this article with an open mind and then go out to research my words. In conclusion, I leave for you, the reader, five clips to highlight my article plus numbers for services and the aid you have available to you n Canada. You can have a brighter tomorrow. You are not alone. It is not your fault. It can get better.

References

  1. Cecile Emeke’s “Fake Deep”: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtVSputUs4Y)

  2. Jackson Katz’s “Violence against women—it’s a men’s issue”: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTvSfeCRxe8)

  3. Mary Ellsberg’s “Ending violence against women with numbers and stories”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoWx3-4-I_8

  4. Crimes Without Honour Documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCWcXmXd1VI

  5. Domestic Violence Is Not Just Physical: http://www.wral.com/news/local/video/9558818/

Services Available In Canada (All of these are helpful resources and I have listed them in random order):

  1. http://www.hotpeachpages.net/canada/

  1. http://www.familyservicetoronto.org/programs/vaw/centres.html

  2. http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/cj-jp/fv-vf/help-aide.html

  3. http://www.violenceunsilenced.com/resources/

  4. http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/getting/type_domesticviolence.asp

  5. http://ovs-svo.com/site/contact/

Other Sources Used:

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