“Let your heart feel for the afflictions and distress of everyone” George Washington
Today is international women’s day - a day where throughout the world there are different events to both celebrate women and highlight the unique challenges we face. While each IWD has a theme, for me today I’m spending time in prayer and thought about the abuse women face. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot as of late, it started with a friend who is training to be a Minister posting about why domestic abuse is just as prevalent as ever. The same day I was thinking about her question, I sat in the Dr’s office, knitting [of course!] and heard mothers telling their daughters to shut up, making comments that they couldn’t do anything right. Later that day as I was shopping and heard a father shouting similar things to his children. And it hit me, how do we teach what is safe behaviour to boys and girls when violent words and actions are “normal” from our young years, how is it wrong for a boyfriend or partner to say such things when parents do? If something is normal, when and how do we learn to see it as abnormal?
I have many friends who have been victims of domestic abuse and many friends who have no clue that they were or are. These friends come from all walks of life, from “normal” homes, wealthy homes, poor homes and anything in between! They have degrees, hold down jobs, are stay at home mums, older, younger and well they look like you or me.
So today, my hope for the women and men of today and tomorrow is that we all live a “normal” which is a life of kind words, gentleness, not attacking the person instead of challenging the behaviour. A normal which never includes reducing someone to tears, grabbing, punching, pushing, biting, kicking, sexually assaulting, burning or anything which leaves marks – physical or emotional. A normal where no one is stupid, worthless, ugly, selfish, frigid, or helpless. A normal where we acknowledge abuse isn’t just about the physical. A normal where telling someone to stop using harsh words, touching or hurting means they stop, or better yet, they never begin in the first place. A normal where a child never hears their mummy being told she is stupid and a world where a child never believes it of themselves. I have always believed that words either help or hinder; may every person reading this realize they are worth only words that help, may they realize that this alone is one huge step closer to protecting their children.