During the 16 Days of Activism to Eliminate 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 3, we ask you to not to belittle or minimise anyone’s experience of abuse or harassment, especially if a victim discloses it to you directly.
It can be tempting for us to dismiss someone’s complaint against ‘overreacting’, to react with discomfort, or to chalk a perpetrator’s behaviour up to ‘just being like that’ or ‘not meaning any harm’. Most of us will do almost anything to avoid confrontation or awkward conversations about someone’s inappropriate actions – but it is in these very moments that we must stand up for victims and call out abusive and harassing behaviour, no matter how minor we perceive it to be. Remember that it will most likely have taken some effort on the part of the victim to disclose what’s happening to you, and they will need both moral and practical support. One practical thing you could do is encourage them to talk to specialists who understand domestic and sexual violence and abuse, like Women’s Aid.
And remember, if someone discloses that their abuse is getting worse or they are in fear for their lives, don’t hesitate to call the police on 101, or 999 if someone is in immediate danger.
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.