This story is part of World Pulse’s Campaign to End Violence Against Women.
World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring an end to gender-based violence. The EVAW Campaign elicits powerful content from women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as vocal grassroots leaders, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
GLOBAL: Ushering an End to Gender-Based Violence
Heather Plett, who survived a rape by an intruder in her home in Canada, found solace in the fact that men in her life were there to support her. “I believe it was a game-changer for me that men were in my corner along with the women,” she says. “To make real change, rape needs to be seen as a crime against humanity,” she adds. “Anything less than that, and it can be dismissed as a ‘women’s issue’.”
Economic and Social Support for Survivors
“Economic empowerment is a crucial component to stopping violence against women and children,” says Dr. Edonna who found freedom from abuse herself by establishing her own financial independence. Now she helps domestic violence survivors in Jamaica earn a living crafting eco-friendly body products, giving them a viable alternative to returning to their abusers.
“Ideally, there would be the formation of a multidisciplinary task force to protect and care for victims, made up of professionals from psychosocial, legal and health backgrounds,” suggests Andrea Vilela Araujo of Brazil.
Valéria Barbosa da Silva of Brazil echoes a popular sentiment that “welcoming the victim should be prioritized, creating a space of trust and comfort where she can share the pain that she keeps a secret.”
Finding Solace in Voice
“What about the violence of the silence?” pleads Ynanna Djehuty of the US. “Of the cry caught in her throat, the pain in her chest, and the fury in her womb?”
Ynanna struggled for a long time to even use the word rape to describe what happened her. But when she did say the word out loud, it prompted a healing process that has led her to not only claim her own voice, but to become a voice for other survivors. “Even if my voice shakes,” she says, “I will talk about rape.”
The strength of this digital action campaign goes beyond concrete recommendations to the sense of community forged amongst hundreds of voices speaking in unison against violent practices. Every word written and spoken against violence takes power away from the silence and isolation of victimhood. Together, these testimonies send a resounding message to women everywhere: You are not alone.
“There is someone somewhere in the world in the same situation,” advises Jennifer Johnson of the US. “Probably very close to you.”
“In my culture, it is not familiar to express fear, hopes, and ambition in public...” says Asma Asfour of Palestine. “But one needs to start breaking these traditions to initiate the change.”
Mukut Ray shares the story of a 13-year-old girl in India who watched as her mother was shunned and abused by her community simply because she was a widow. The girl Jyoti began by going house to house speaking her mind, gradually prompting changes in the attitudes and treatment towards widows in her community. As Mukut says, “If a young girl can, we also can.”
Yes, the solution will involve new laws and new norms. It will involve major shifts in our political landscape, in our communities, in our families, in the lessons we teach our children. But it can start with one young girl standing up for what’s right. It starts with a man who decides to create a new story that challenges violent masculinity. It starts with all of us creating supportive spaces for survivors to speak and release their pain. It starts with us. And it starts NOW.