WHAT IS VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN (VAW)?
VAW has been defined in the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women:
Violence Against Women (VAW) is any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.
Violence Against Women encompasses, but is not limited to the following:
a) Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, including battering, sexual abuse of female children in the household, dowry-related violence, marital rape, female genital mutilation and other traditional practices harmful to women, non-spousal violence and violence related to exploitation.
b) Violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and intimidation at work, in educational institutions and elsewhere, trafficking in women and forced prostitution.
c) Violence perpetrated or condoned by the State, wherever it occurs.
FORMS OF ABUSE
Physical Violence- any physical action toward another person (pushing, hitting, whipping, throwing, slapping and spanking) can produce bruises, broken homes and broken lives. When another human being hits a person, it is demeaning, it is a message of worthlessness and the victim may think, “I’m no good; hence, I deserve to be hit.” It creates tremendous burden on the person’s ability to cope with life.
Emotional Violence- is far more than the usual cursing, blaming, threatening and manipulating. It is putting her down or making her feel bad about herself. Its scars go deep as physical wounds and actually take longer to heal. This is not directly observable but can have long-lasting effects on the personality of the victim.
Verbal Abuse- Can become a prison, a humiliation and deprivation; conversations that tear down self-esteem; calling her names.
Economic Abuse- trying to keep her from getting or keeping a job; making her ask for money; giving her allowance; taking her money; controlling the financial aspects of the family.
Sexual Abuse- making her do sexual acts against her will; marital rape; forcing unwanted and sadistic sexual acts; treating her as a sex object; physically attacking the sexual parts of her body; making demeaning and sexually suggestive remarks.
· Sexual harassment
CYCLE OF VIOLENCE
When violence is part of the way couples interact, there is a pattern that tends to occur. The pattern consists of several phases:
Tension Building Stage- A phase where tension builds up in a relationship and the couple cannot overcome by talking it out. One partner controls and dominates the situation while the victim (usually the woman) is frightened to do anything and is eventually powerless to prevent a violent outburst.
Violent Outburst/Battering Incident- Violence may not always be physical. It may involve extreme physical harm to the victim, or emotional scarring which is not visible to the casual observer. The batterer (usually the man) justifies his behavior as teaching the victim a lesson.
The victim usually has no control of the outburst-only a safe hiding place. She may even deny seriousness to appease the batterer and to end the abuse.
Pursuit Phase/Honeymoon Stage- They abuser may feel remorse or sorrow for his behavior and may be fearful that his partner will leave him. He attempts to recover lost ground by asking forgiveness, giving presents, making promises about the future and modifying his behavior.
When forgiveness has been sought, it may be a time of great closeness for the couple. However, given the problems of daily life, tension will rise again and may gradually lead them back to the build-up phase and the cycle begins again.