12 ways to help Combat Intimate Partner Violence
The most important aspect of preventing intimate partner violence is understanding the complexities of the issue. Understand the role media plays, how “jokes” perpetuate a culture that excuses perpetrators, and know the signs of abuse when they are happening. When you listen to songs like Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie” do you recognize the cycle of abuse for what it is or do you just hear the song and sing along? Pop culture has a habit of normalizing abuse and many of us are blind to it. Stop and really listen to what you’re internalizing and examine how it might influence the way you think about abuse.
Become a Trained Advocate
TESSA, among many other domestic violence and sexual assault agencies, offers a 45-hour training to become a confidential victim advocate. This is not only an extremely important educational tool but it is also a way to connect with other members of your community who are interested in ending gender-based violence.
Be a Resource
If someone discloses to you their lived experience of abuse, it is important to remember to listen, believe, validate, and refer. Mainstream culture tells us to question people when they reveal instances of abuse. Check in with yourself and if that is your first instinct, try not to voice those opinions. Our job as allies is to support and believe survivors when they come forward with abuse keeping in mind that we very well could be the first person they have told. Validate their experiences by expressing how difficult the situation is and that NO ONE deserves to be abused. Acknowledge that you are not the expert and instead refer them to a resource like TESSA with trained professionals in violence intervention. Being a resource can also mean accompanying them to seek out professional services and supporting them through the process.
Victims of gender-based violence are often blamed for their abuse or have their abuse minimized. It is up to all of us to create a culture where those beliefs are not tolerated and instead cultivate an environment that believes and validates survivors’ experiences. The solution is not “don’t get assaulted”. The solution lies in changing the conversation around responsibility and holding offenders accountable.
If You See Something, Say Something
Intimate partner violence is still seen by many as an issue that should be kept within the family. In order to end these cycles of violence we need to understand the importance of saying something when we see something happening. If you overhear your neighbors having a violent altercation, call the police.
Be a Better Bystander
Bystander Intervention is an important skill in preventing violence. This does not only mean intervening when overt acts of violence occur but also addressing cultural norms that perpetuate intimate partner violence.
If someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, it can be helpful to assist them in documenting the abuse as it occurs. This not only builds their confidence by validating their experiences but also can help them have a stronger court case if they choose to pursue legal actions.
Encourage Healthy Gender Expression for Young People
Young people should be encouraged to express themselves in healthy ways which includes not imposing “boys will be boys” and “throwing like a girl” ideas. One child using violence towards another child is not an appropriate expression of “puppy love”. Saying things like “it’s because s/he likes you,” reinforces the idea that affection and violence go hand-in-hand.
Bring Educational Trainings to Your Communities
TESSA has educational outreach available to community organizations, schools, and businesses interested in learning about violence prevention education.
Support Organizations That Are Making a Difference, Don’t Support Organizations That Are Hurting the Cause
Just as you need to hold people in your life accountable for violent behaviors and attitudes, also hold the organizations you are a part of accountable. If a bar or restaurant has problematic policies, educate them on what may be an oversight on their part and advise them on how to take corrective action. Let them know why what they are doing is wrong and why if changes aren’t made, you will no longer support their business.
Step Up, Step Back
While having these conversations, it is important to remember that different communities are disproportionately affected by domestic violence. If you are in a position of privilege, remember to step back and let voices of those most affected by gender-based violence be amplified.
Work with lawmakers to create policies that support and benefit survivors of assault as well as hold offenders accountable.