Violence Against Women

This week in my Women Studies class we talked about violence against women. We had a guest speaker Laura Weaver from the Women’s Resource Center here in Radford. She discussed “change the conversation”. This weeks reading was “The village where men are banned” by Julie Bindel. The article focused on an all women’s village called Umoja.

A little background on the Women’s Resource Center here in Radford: they have 26 bed shelter, a 7 unit apartment complex , they have an advocacy program, and a hotline. The apartment complex is for families during the transition.The WRC is all volunteer. The advocacy program is where someone from the WRC goes to the hospital to provide support services to the victim and anyone who came with them to the hospital. Sadly, the majority of the clients they help are children suffering from assault.

What is abuse? Is it just physical or is emotional and verbal abuse too? It is all of the above. So what makes it hard for a women to leave when they are in an abusive relationship? Just a few reasons might be: fear, no where to go, they may not realize they are in an abusive relationship. Also society makes it harder to leave, we shift blame from the abuser to the abusee. The list of reasons to stay will always be longer than a list of reasons to leave. If a women does leave, society makes it harder for her to establish herself. She is unable to find adequate employment, she now has to pay for childcare and all the normal living expenses, if she can find a job at all. The holidays make it especially hard for women and several women will go back for their kids sake.

So now we have talked about women let’s talk about men for a second. 90% of men would not act in a violent or demeaning way to a women. We need a practical application for this problem. So let’s talk about how to stop those 10%, where do you lie on who you believe is at fault for the violence? A few weeks ago we talked about rape culture. Rape culture is how we talk about violence, locker room talk, etc.

So I know where I lie on the matter. I believe that society as a whole as stopped making people take responsibility for their own actions. This is a downfall in our society. Instead of trying to hold the women accountable, the abuser should be held accountable. And if a woman chooses to leave we should help her.

So something I haven’t talked about a lot is my experience with abuse. So in 2013 I asked my husband of 10 years for a divorce. We decided that instead of separating because we couldn’t afford it I was still in school and he’s the only income and we decided to go to marriage counseling. During this time we argued and fought a lot. I started working at the school but only made $300 a month. This was my only option, I couldn’t find work else where that would work around my school and allow me to be home with my kids, because the cost of childcare for three kids is several hundred a month. I tried to find low income housing, but the wait for housing was at least 18+ months. One night we had been drinking and we started fighting. It resulted in him trying to choke me out. He broke both our phones to keep me from calling the police. I was stuck, but that was the last time it ever got violent. I refused to go to a shelter because I remember what it was like to go to women’s shelters when I was a kid. I won’t scar my children like that. The shelters I had been to were all cold and scary and the kids were mean to each other. Since this night I have been diagnosed as bipolar and I do not drink anymore. I am still with my husband we are working on things. I basically have given up on trying to leave for now, as long as it stays non-violent. I may change my mind when I’m out of school or I may stay because sometimes things can change and get better. The stay list is and will always be longer for me, since I have three children to think of it’s not just about me.

The article is about Umoja, a village in northern Kenya. This village houses 47 women that are escaping after being raped, beaten, having their genitalia mutilated, avoid being sold/ have already been sold into an arranged marriage. There is only one man allowed to come to the village, Lotukoi tends the animals. Other than that men are not allowed so the women are able to live without fear. These women work together to provide for themselves and others. They support and love each other. The women are proud of being able to do things that normally not allowed like earn money. They are a frugal bunch of ladies but they are happy.

Honestly, I think there should be more places like these. Especially in places that are extremely patriarchal. I think every woman should be free to live without fear. Living in fear destroys you mentally. You end up with a form of PTSD. I feel as arranged marriages should be banned but in places where it is still prominent, it’s good that there is a place to go to escape. Being 2100 miles away from my family made it physically impossible for me to escape to a safe place. I’m grateful that Umoja exists, even though I hate the reason for there to be a need for such a place.