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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Don't Be On The Giving End

Oh dear, it doesn't matter how many times we talk about it, and my goodness we talk about it a lot, it happens again and again.

Last Christmas we were told to not be a rape victim, earlier this year we were told that it was because of what we wear, and that half of Londoners surveyed thought there were times that rape was the victim's fault, and these are just the tip of the iceberg.

So, in time for Christmas, Hambleton and Richmondshire Community Safety Partnership have launched a 'hard-hitting campaign', advising people to not be 'on the receiving end' of domestic violence during the festive season.

I am struggling to see their logic. Is it aimed at women who they believe were somehow planning to be abused, yet on seeing the poster they will see the error of their ways, and decide against it? How else can it be understood?

Raising awareness of domestic abuse is very important. The quote provided makes good points: “Christmas is meant to be a happy time for families but for many living in our districts it will be a time of fear and pain,” said Sarah Hill, Director of Independent Domestic Abuse Services.

“The pressure builds up as people spend more time together than normal - which can often be a flash point for abuse. But we are here and ready to help – to listen or to provide some shelter.”


But how does this equate to the victim blaming, completely missing-the-point poster.

If anyone is going to urge anyone to do anything, we need to urge abusers not to abuse. It is so screamingly obvious that it frustrates me immensely that we have to write about this again and again and again.

Nobody wants to be abused. A woman seeing a poster telling her not to 'be on the receiving end' does not stop her partner 'being on the giving end'. It may just make her feel even more powerless and vulnerable.

Provide helpline numbers, sure. Provide advice and support, absolutely. But point the advice in a way that does not make it her fault. In a way that does not put the onus on her to not be punched or kicked or raped.

Because believe me, she already does not want to be on the receiving end. She does not need a patronising poster campaign to tell her that.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247, or find a service local to you through the Women's Aid website.

And remember, it is not your fault. Ever.

I wish we did not have to keep saying this, but as long as people keep putting out information like that, we will.

(Cross-posted at The F Word)

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