The threat of violence is always there for women

If you take a glance at the world around us, it would appear that violence against women is one of society’s great taboos.
Nanjing Night Net

It’s one of those things that pretty much everyone would appear to be firmly against.

Television advertising campaigns about violence against women loom large in our collective memory, and people are vocal about their disapproval and disgust when it comes to such acts of violence.

However, the fact remains that one in three women over the age of 15 has experienced physical or sexual violence, as found by the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2005.

When I first discoverd that fact, although part of me was shocked it was so common, another part of me quickly started doing the maths in my head.

I quickly realised that among the women in my life, there was a collection of small incidents, primarily unreported and seldom mentioned, that brought home the fact that the threat of violence is always there.

A friend of mine was recently roughed up at a pub by a man much bigger and stronger than herself.

She did something that she thought was funny. He thought it was cause to press his arm up to her throat and smash her against the bar. She was considerably shaken by the whole incident and had some substantial bruises the next day.

Like so many other women though, she chose not to press charges because she didn’t want to have to appear in court and just wanted to move on, pretend it didn’t happen. She had a fair point because society isn’t always kind to female victims.

If we are intoxicated, if we go somewhere alone at night, if we wear particular kinds of clothes, if we let our guard down, someone may accuse us of “asking for it”- as if anyone asks for violence.

The shameful truth is that many of my female friends have at least one similar tale of violence, or at least the threat of it.

The girl who was bent backwards over the side of a bridge to see if she screamed, the time a persistent stalker hung around my boarding school, the niggling fear felt when walking even a short distance at night.

My own experience of feeling threatened involved being bailed up on a street one night by a guy that had a slightly violent reputation.

Although he didn’t actually touch me, he towered over me, placing his hand on the wall behind in a way that was clearly intended to show that he was bigger and stronger than me, and that I should be very careful about upsetting him.

Needless to say, I didn’t sleep so well after that.

In the telling of these kinds of anecdotes the next day, we are quick to disclaim, “I’m OK, just a bit shaken up.”

If we are honest though, is being “shaken up” and feeling threatened ever OK?

Why should a culture where the fear of violence is always lurking be acceptable? I can’t help but wonder if, by playing down these incidents, we’re actually perpetuating the myth that these things are okay if we aren’t seriously hurt, that it’s not a crime if we don’t have the broken bones or black eyes to prove it.

These things are sometimes painful to talk about, but pretending they don’t happen may be doing the world a disservice.

What do you think?

Do you know of similar incidents of violence?

Are they something to be upset over or should we just accept it?

Let me know your thoughts at [email protected]南京夜网 or via Twitter @toria_jayne.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.