Did you know that every 6 days a woman in Canada is killed by her intimate partner? Further, “[Indigenous women] are six times more likely to be killed than [non-Indigenous women]” (Canadian Women’s Foundation, 2020). Factor in COVID-19 and we are looking at another pandemic, one that threatens women’s safety. Research shows that major events in society are correlated with an increase in rates of domestic violence. For example, a flood, the closing of a town’s major source of income (ex. factory or mine), or a world-wide public health episode.
Women, the very essence of life continue to be stomped on, hit on, and choked like they do not matter. Until women’s bodies are treated like the sacred beings they are, women must be proactive in protecting themselves and the other women and girls in their life and community. In order to do so, there must be a heightened sense of awareness of the overall problem. Women tend to be afraid of stranger violence, those acts that occur on the street and outside the home. The focus tends to be on the hooded figure that is trying to steal your purse or worse yet, trying to rape you. The reality is that violence against women is overwhelming perpetrated by close, intimate partners. Your husband, your partner, the father of your children.
I want you to re-tool your thinking about where violence lurks. We must be realistic and face the hard truth so that we are ready and prepared to protect ourselves on the home front. In order to increase our levels of safety and reduce potential victimization, situational awareness is key.
The following are three (3) tips that will increase women’s safety (inside and outside the home):
- Pay attention: when traveling outside the home, put your cell phone and headphones away and focus on your surroundings so that you are ready if someone tries to attack you. In the home, pay attention to your partner’s mood. Has he been drinking, did he have a bad day at work, or lose his job? These are stress inducing cues that may lead to acting out and hence violence. Recognize the patterns so that you can protect yourself.
- Trust your gut: if you get a feeling in the pit of your stomach that something is not right, trust it. Look around your surroundings, whether the street or your home and decipher what may not be right and make adjustments such removing yourself from the situation or changing your route.
- Create personal space: if someone is walking too closely to you or standing in your personal space, it is not alright. If you are on the street, change directions and find a safe zone or take several steps away so that the person is no longer in your personal space. In the case of a home situation, if things heat up between you and a partner, remove yourself if it is safe to do so. If you have the space, go to another room or go outside to the back or front yard. For those that have limited space, if you have access to a vehicle, you can create some space by leaving the home and sitting in your vehicle or taking a walk around the block. This may calm things down so that you are not placed in a situation where you may be attacked.
Please do what you are safe and comfortable doing. And do not forget that no one has the right to hurt or violate you as that is a crime. Here are some resources:
Assaulted Women’s Helpline (866-863-0511)
Cupid’s Sting Non-Profit (416-523-1445)
Women’s Sexual Assault Centre (800-663-3060)
As always, be safe!
Canadian Women’s Foundation. (2020). The facts about gender-based violence. Retrieved from http://www.canadianwomen.org/the-facts/gender-based-violence/.