During the 16 Days of Activism to Elimination Violence Against Women, we will be sharing 16 ways you can be an ally and do your bit to end violence against women.

On Day 2, we ask you to speak up when someone makes a joke about rape or domestic violence.

It’s not always an easy thing to do, and you may cringe at the thought of sticking your head above the parapet and calling out jokes about rape and violence. You may worry that others will dismiss what you’re saying, tell you not to be so serious and that it’s only a bit of banter…

…but that banter has real-life effects. Not only does it belittle and normalise violence against women, it also makes victims feel like they won’t be taken seriously if they report their real-life violence and abuse. And let’s not forget that rapists and abusers are not other-worldly monsters hidden away in dark alleys, but ordinary people that we interact with every day. And while other non-abusive people in a group may just think it’s a joke, the rapist or abuser in the group may feel that it validates their behaviour, or embolden them to believe that no one will take a victim’s complaint seriously.

So we ask you to endure a few minutes of social discomfort by calling out rape and abuse jokes – your temporary awkwardness could make a world of difference to victims of domestic and sexual violence and abuse.

If you have been affected by domestic or sexual violence, you can get support from our 24 Hour Domestic & Sexual Violence Helpline on 0808 802 1414, or from a local Women’s Aid group. Find a group in your area here.