LJUBLJANA
Linhartova cesta 13, Ljubljana
Tel: 01 4344 822, 031 770 120,
051 332 776, 030 423 424
Fax: 059 09 57 66
e-mail: info(at)drustvo-dnk.si

ENOTA KOPER
Vojkovo nabrežje 10, Koper
Tel: 05 6393 170, 031 546 098
Fax: 05 6393 180
e-mail: dnk.koper(at)siol.net
VIOLENCE AGANIST WOMEN


Definition of violence against women is based on questioning unevenly distributed power between genders.

Violence against women is an extreme form of male control over women. Men's violence pushes women into a subordinate position.


The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women  (1994) defines violence against women as »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 is a social problem.

Violence should not be seen as a personal matter of an individual who experiences violence. The emergence of violence depends on reaction of a society. It can condemn and sanction it, which minimizes the possibility of occurrence of violence, or tolerates and minimize it. Therefore, violence is defined as a social problem. Moreover, violence against women is a social problem because of its consequences. Violence against women helps maintaining the imbalance of power between genders. A woman in a violent relationship cannot invest her strengths in education, public participation and other areas of her life. Violence against women is also a major financial burden for the country (medical costs, costs due to absenteeism at work, costs related to the prevention of further violence...).

 

Experiences and the statistics show us that the most dangerous place for women is their home.

Home is the most common site of long-term violence. 95% of perpetrators are male and the majority of violence against women is caused by men that women know well. They are usually family members, colleagues, relatives and friends. Violence can remain hidden in private relations for a long time, since it is difficult for the victim to leave an abusive relationship because of the close personal ties with the perpetrator. Even when she decides to leave, violence tends to escalate as the perpetrator tries to prevent the end of a relationship. Further difficulty is often a disapproval of the surroundings when a woman decides to leave an abusive relationship and press charges against a perpetrator.

 

There is no excuse for violence.

A society can be still too tolerant to men's violence against women, which makes it difficult for victims to take care for their own safety and their rights. Despite the general belief that "we should not beat women” many people feel that a man has the right to hit a woman, if he has a good enough reason. This gives him the right to punish a woman. A punishment is possible only when the power in the relationship is distributed unequally, which is unacceptable for an intimate partnership.

 

There is no such thing as a typical perpetrator a typical victim.

Violence against women occurs in all social classes. There is no “perpetrator character”, which can be recognized by some external characteristics. Nor is violence linked to the consumption of alcohol or drugs, poverty, education, nationality or other personal circumstances.


Reasons for such a common phenomenon of male violence against women can neither be found in men’s biological characteristics, as most men are not violent. Also, not all women are victims of violence. Therefore we cannot say that the role of a victim is associated with the biological characteristics of a female. It is wrong to believe that women want to be victims because of their innate desires to be taken care of. Violence is not a pleasant experience and nobody wants to be victim. Women who have experienced violence tell us that they most want security, peace and a life without violence.

 

Violence is associated with traditional roles which are attributed to men and women.

We discuss with our users what kind of beliefs about women, men and relationships between them we transmit, create and maintain. We encourage critical thinking about the messages we send to our children and adolescent as they will transmit the messages to the next generation.


According to traditional beliefs a man should show strength, be active and shouldn’t be one bit "feminine", shouldn’t talk about his emotions and shouldn’t be "a coward" or "a pussy". The traditional image of the real man is "a macho image", someone that is not afraid to show his power. On the other hand, a woman should be gentle, flexible, submissive, sympathetic, and able to forgive and to sacrifice for the family. Characteristics and dynamics of such a specific relationship between a man and a woman are essential in understanding the phenomenon of violence against women.

 

Socialization draws girls in the role that prevents women to stand up for them.

Men and women need power. However, the traditional male role allows or even requires that men exhibit power and control over themselves and others. On the other hand, women are expected to be feminine, and to deny or cover up control and power over others and over themselves. Traditionally, a woman should be gentle, loving, willing to help, and able to care for others. Women are often described as passive, weak (in terms of physical or mental condition), emotional, gentle and willing to sacrifice. We often explain differences between men and women by these stereotypes, which are wrongly attributed to biological characteristics and not to different socialization of boys and girls. Many studies have shown that socialization of boys and girls differ from birth onwards or even from earlier. We have different expectations when we think about having a boy or a girl. These expectations put men in the role of leaders and women in the role of the guided ones, which undoubtedly leads to an imbalance of power. As these roles are associated with the generally accepted social values, individuals are forced to maintain them in personal relationships and in a society at large. Stereotypical values are also enforced by violence and tolerance of violence.

 

Intimate partner violence rarely stays the same over a period of time. It usually increases both in severity and frequency.

Intimate partner violence begins to escalate in severity and frequency after first violent incident. It usually begins with mild forms of psychological violence that are not even recognized by victims of violence. In order to prevent further violence, the victim starts slowly adapting her life and accepts the limitations imposed by her partner. Violence starts increasing with the perpetrator's growing desire to demonstrate power and control. Some victims report that they have experienced a period of peace between outbursts of violence. This period is often called honeymoon period. Though it may appear as though these periods of apparent calm are non-abusive, they are in fact simply part of a manipulative cycle, in which the abuser feels in control of their partner and situation. He may show repentance for pain caused and even promise to change. Often it is these periods of apparent calm, which give victims of abuse the hope that change can be achieved, and the abuse will stop, and keeps them locked in the abusive relationship. Nevertheless, some victims say that they have never experienced such periods. They have experienced only violence. 

 

Zero tolerance to violence is the key to preventing male violence against women.

Not long ago, male violence against women was widely tolerated by a society. That was caused by the beliefs that the sociological differences between men and women are natural and that man are also naturally inclined to violence. When talking about intimate partnership violence, tolerance was even greater. Even today we can see that the public is much more indignant at the violence of women against men than vice versa, although these cases are really rare in comparison to violence against women. Indignation can be explained by the fact that these cases deviate significantly from the values and expectations associated with gender roles. Violence against women is something that should be expected from the stereotypical characteristics of men. Women should understand this and “stay where they belong to”.


Our society is still not fully aware of the domestic violence. Public is less attentive to the violence that occurs within family relationships and more to the violence outside the home, especially in cases of rape.

 

The reality of violence, especially sexual, is different from the myths that persist in public beliefs.

Most people think about rape as an act of violence when an unknown man attacks a young and attractive woman in a hidden place. When so, a woman should be actively defended, which can be proven with torn clothes and bruises. Professionals who work with women, who have experienced sexual violence, often tell us that rape is the only type of criminal offense where public expects a victim to be defended. They expect a perpetrator to be significantly stronger than woman, armed and drunk, to have uncontrollable sexual desires, and the typical personality traits that are visible to the eye. The truth about rape and violence cannot be more different. Sexual violence against women is usually committed by a man that a woman knows well. Women, who are survivors of violence, often speak of sexual violence committed by their intimate partners. Their partners believed that they are entitled to have sex with them any time they want. If a wife /partner refuses him, he has the right to use force. Premise of sexual violence is not sexual desire, but the need for power. When a perpetrator commits sexual or other type of violence against a woman, he takes over her power and control. Sexual violence is usually intertwined with other forms of violence or abuse of trust. A victim usually does not physically resist because she is scared, feels hopeless and does not want to risk serious injury. She has to choose between unwanted sex and being subjected to violence.

 

The only one, responsible for violence, is the one who commits it. There is no excuse for violence.

Women often blame themselves when their partners commit violence, especially if they are the only victims of their partners. Perpetrators may often have good social reputation. They are charming in public and violent in private. Therefore they are often seen from the surroundings as good fathers and partners. Moreover, victims of violence often identify psychological violence in their own behaviour. They start to believe this is the reason why their partners are violent towards them. But violence in the relationship cannot be prevented with the same or other types of violence. Nor can be prevented with domination over the one that has crossed our personal boundaries. Violence can be prevented by warning the other person about our personal boundaries. If the other person does not take it into account, we have to redefine our relationship and assess whether it makes sense to insist in a relationship where you do not feel respected and heard.

We often wonder why the victims of violence persist in a relationship. It is time to ask ourselves why perpetrators persist in a relationship with someone that they find so unbearable that they have to use violence against her.

 
Leaving a violent relationship is an opportunity to gain back your rights.

Victims of domestic violence usually start changing and adapting their behaviour to prevent violence. They adapt their activities to meet the perpetrator’s expectations. They often stop contacting friends and give up their lifestyles. Such a renunciation gradually intensifies until victim’s life is severely limited. The decision to escape from a violent relationship is not easy, especially if partners have children. Moreover, due to the traditional role of women, victims have strong feelings of guilt when leaving their partner.

 

Response of the surrounding to individual cases of violence is a key element in preventing violence against women.

Preventing violence is often a difficult task. One of the reasons is the belief that we should not interfere with “private conflicts”. On the other hand, people often put themselves in the role of arbitrators or judges and assess who is more to blame for the violence, who has provoked it and whether a woman has deserved it. When a victim tries to show her personal boundaries, to express her thoughts and beliefs, perpetrator and surroundings often understand it as an act of provocation. By doing so, a woman threatens perpetrator’s control over the situation and thus his masculine identity.


When trying to prevent violence we cannot take the position “every story has two sides”. Violence against women is violence and crime. Nothing can justify violence. Violence is the point when the surroundings have to react and give the perpetrator a message that his behaviour is intolerable and unacceptable.

 

Every human being has the right to be free.

Women have many fears and problems associated with leaving their partners. The good news is that many women managed to get away and start handling their lives again. Many were surprised when they realized that they can live without restrictions and fear. Some of them describe strange feelings when being able to stop for a coffee after work. Others find it unusual not to be afraid of getting home on time. Some say that they could go alone with a child to a playground for the first time in their lives. All this statements say one thing. Many women must learn to live freely again. Although every human being has the right to be free.

 

There has to be room for conflict in every relationship, but no room for any kind of violence.

It is sometimes difficult for a woman to assess whether she is experiencing violence or normal conflicts between partners. Browse the list of violent acts, described by women, victims of violence. It may help you evaluate your situation.

 
List of violent acts



Violence committed by women

Home is the most common site of long-term violence. 95% of perpetrators are male and the majority of violence against women is caused by men.
Nevertheless, we also meet and work with women who commit violence. It is mostly   violence against children.


Years of experience in working with male and female perpetrators of violence have shown that there are some important differences between them:

  • Violence, committed by women, has less severe consequences.
  • When a woman shouts at a man, he usually does not feel threatened.
  • Murder is not the result of female violence.
  • Men externalize causes for their violent behavior; women internalize them, which means that men seek causes in other people/circumstances, the women in themselves.
  • Women take responsibility for their violence, which makes it easier to work with them on eliminating violent behaviors.

 

 
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