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News & Updates Sexual Assault Violence Against Women

Let’s Unite! to end violence against women

Every act on every level counts! #16DaysSG

 

You might be wondering after #MeToo, #NowWhat?

Through the recent online movement, #MeToo, thousands of women around the world – and in Singapore – came forward to have open and honest conversations about their experiences of surviving sexual violence. #MeToo has not only foregrounded the prevalence of sexual violence in Singapore, but also the silence surrounding the issue. At the end of the day, a hashtag can only go so far: the onus lies on us to take action every day.

We Can! Singapore invites you to be a part of Let’s Unite, a 16-day campaign* to end violence against women. Start taking action these 16 Days, between 25th Nov – 10th Dec 2017 so we can galvanise everyone’s efforts and show that we are building a strong community of support.

If you start saying ‘violence against women happens in Singapore’ → More people will learn about it → Others will say it too → Perpetrators’ behaviours will not be excused → More survivors will seek help → State and social support for survivors will be improved → Violence against women will be on its way out

Tell others that you want to end violence against women – and encourage them to join you!

Start your #16DaysSG journey below.

 

 

 

 

 

*16 Days of Activism is a global campaign that calls on individuals, groups and organisations to stand together against violence against women by pledging their support and taking action from 25 November, the International Day of Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day.

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Blog News & Updates Sexual Assault Violence Against Women [email protected]

Mental Abuse

By Amy* (name changed to protect her identity) 

There are many signs of an abusive partner. They don’t always hurt you 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it could happen once a week, or once a month, but when you do get hurt, it isn’t a matter of how often it occurs, but rather, how it has affected you.

Mental abuse is just one of its many forms of abuse, it changes you internally, leaving you in utter fear, it affects the way you think, behave, speak and act. A very serious and complicated process which leaves you questioning your self worth, shattering your self-esteem and confidence.

An abusive partner takes away your friends, leaving you alone, with no one to turn to but your partner. Preventing you from speaking to your friends or meeting them. Wanting to consistently know and read the conversations which you had with others. They alter the way you dress, constantly telling you that your favourite dress or jeans looks ugly, insisting you never wear it again. Critising the way you look, noticing the little bit of weight you’ve put on or the way you style your hair or wear your make-up,  insisting you alter yourself to their desires. As a good partner yourself, you believe that your abusive partner is merely keeping you in line, “its the culture,” you may think. But these are beyond culture, these are the steps to wrapping their finger around you, and you hadn’t even noticed.

A mentally abusive partner affirms you that everything you do is wrong, he was angry at you because you made him mad. He’d flirt with the opposite sex, because you had an innocent conversation with the opposite sex. He didn’t come home the last two nights, because you defied him. You constantly believe that whatever had happened was your fault, so you keep mum about these events, because you believe that everyone else thinks the same about you.

More often than not, being in a mentally abusive relationship requires you to sit and think about what and who you have become. Losing yourself is one of the many signs of being in an abusive relationship. When you no longer dress the way you want to dress, no longer speak the way you speak, lose close friends because of your partner, or no longer recognize the person staring back at you in the mirror.

Mental abuse is a slow creeping process which ultimately changes who you are, how you behave in situations, being afraid to speak to others, being scared of your partner, constantly ensuring you do not do anything to upset him, or keeping urges of wanting to defy your partner in secret.

But when you do get the chance to speak to a friend or family member, you worry about the things you say to them, because despite loved ones telling you that your partner is unhealthy for you, you’d find yourself making excuses for his behaviour.

These unfortunately signify a mentally abusive partner. And sometimes, it feels impossible to get out of an abusive relationship. There are support systems out there to help, but in order to receive help means to accept the help.

Don’t let yourself believe that there would be no one else out there for you other than your abusive partner. Never feel alone because you aren’t alone.

What you go through happens a lot more than you’d imagine, but it doesn’t mean that you deserve to be mistreated. Nobody deserves to be abused, and that includes you.

If you or someone you know has experienced similar situations, reach out for support through the AWARE Helpline at 1800 774 5935. The AWARE Helpline is run by women, for women. Find out more information here.

About the author: Amy is a survivor of intimate-partner violence. After going through 8 years of mental, physical and verbal abuse, she has managed to live peacefully for the past 4 years and has since moved on with her life. She now hopes to make a difference by raising awareness and sharing her experiences.

 

Categories
Blog News & Updates Rape Culture Sexual Assault

We must end victim-blaming now

by Rio Hoe
The views expressed in this article are Rio’s own. The original article can be found here.

Victim-blaming is unacceptable. It is illogical and rests on a failure to distinguish the importance of precautions and the idea that people deserve to suffer for failing to take them. Rape is a deliberate act; the wrong always lies with the perpetrator, and never the victim.

In the context of rape, victim-blaming is unacceptable. Yet, it happens more often than we think. Take a look at some of the comments on a recent news article by ChannelNews Asia titled, ‘Man on trial for abducting and raping unconscious woman 15 years younger’ (Mar 30).

This above comment was the comment with the most ‘likes’ at time this blog entry was written. The comments section can be found here. There are more:

Rape is avoidable, if men don’t rape.

These sort of views are regressive. People who are raped do not “ask for it”. Rapists are not jailed “because she (the victim) said so”. In the context of rape, it does not “take 2 hands to clap” – in fact, that contradicts the very definition of rape as non-consensual sex. And finally, yes, rape is avoidable, if men don’t rape.

The wrong in rape is the wrong committed by the offender through a deliberate act of penetration despite the victim’s refusal, or inability to give consent. The victim commits no wrong. Even if the victim placed herself in a vulnerable position, it does not at all reduce the wrong committed by the offender. Thinking otherwise is illogical. If we blame rape victims for doing things that increase the likelihood of rape, shouldn’t we also condemn murder victims for failing to carry a weapon, or failing to end an abusive relationship, since these could have avoided a murder? Shouldn’t we also condemn people who become victims of harassment and abuse because they share political views which people dislike, since “they could have kept their mouth shut?”. We don’t, because we understand that people have a right not to be murdered, and a right to express their political views without being abused, or worse, physically harmed. So why do some people not accept that people have a right not to be raped? The fact is, victim-blaming is a problematic and illogical practice, and we should be unafraid to call people out on it, and put an end to it.

I can anticipate several responses to my claims. I will address just three of them for now.

First, one might ask: ‘does this mean we shouldn’t take precautions?’ Of course not. I do not think it is wrong to tell our friends and family to watch their drinks to prevent ‘spiking’, or to moderate their alcohol intake. But we should only do so because we are aware that the world is filled with people with bad intentions, and because we realize society is imperfect, and people do commit wrongs against women. But we should not do so because we believe that failing to take precautions puts the victim in the wrong. These are two very different attitudes to have; the latter constitutes victim-blaming, and is unacceptable.

There is a difference between reminding people to take care of themselves, and to blame them when a bad thing happens to them because they failed to do so

There is a difference between reminding people to take care of themselves, and to tell people that they are to blame when a bad thing happens to them because they failed to take care of themselves. Too many people fail to make this distinction.

Second, one might ask: in cases, such as in car accidents, the liability of the wrongdoer is reduced if the victim’s actions increased the likelihood of the wrong occurring. For example, if I ride my motorbike dangerously, or dash across the road, someone who knocks me down with his car will pay less compensation than if I had used a zebra crossing. So why should this not apply to rape? This argument is not uncommon – I encountered it in the same comments section as the comments above:

Deliberate wrongs belong to a special class of wrongs which attract condemnation despite a victims’ actions.

There is, in fact, a huge difference. In the case of motor accidents, the harm is caused (you guessed it), by accident. This changes the nature of the wrong; it is what we can call an accidental wrong. Hence, the traffic accident case is a different type of case from rape, which is a deliberate wrong. Think about it this way: if someone sets out to murder me by running me over with his car, surely I am not to be blamed for failing to use the overhead bridge, or for leaving my house in the first place. The murderer, through his/her deliberate acts, committed a wrong, and this causes my actions to ‘drop out of the picture’. Deliberate wrongs belong to a special class of wrongs which attract condemnation despite a victims’ actions. This is because the responsibility of the wrongdoer, having direct his/her free will towards causing harm, becomes the focus of our moral and legal censure.

Rapes are caused by people. They are not things that happen to people

Remember that rapes are caused by people. They are not things that happen to people. It is not like getting struck by lightning, or being crushed by a falling tree. Rape is a deliberate act, committed with the intention to harm. Hence, the wrong in rape lies solely with the rapist, never the victim.

Third, one might ask: where it is ‘easy’ to avoid rape, shouldn’t victims attract some blame if they fail to do so? In response, I argue that it is not for anyone to say what is ‘easy’ for someone else. As seen from the comments above, some victim-blamers suggest that for women, it is as ‘easy’ as, for example, not drinking, or avoiding the company of men who have previously made advances towards them.

This is wrong, and let me explain why. Women are already disadvantaged in the workplace due to sexist attitudes, and the fact that corporate leadership remains male-dominated (I recently wrote an article on this). It is unlikely that they can avoid the advancements of their male colleagues, or avoid corporate events that include alcohol, if they wish to advance their careers, since these actions may be seen by the male-led corporate leadership as being ‘unsociable’, or failing to be a ‘team-player’.

Hence, the argument that vulnerable situations are ‘easy’ to avoid ignores the unequal power structures that women have to deal with on a daily basis. In the rape case reported above, for example, it was reported that ‘the victim tolerated Ong’s (the rapist) advances so as not to jeopardise her internship at an F&B company whose owners were friends with the accused’.

I am glad that in the comments section of the above-mentioned news article, some people have called out victim-blamers for their ill-founded views. However the fact that victim-blaming comments regularly end up as the ‘top’ comments (with the most ‘likes’) demonstrate the pervasiveness of this regressive mentality in our society. I hope that my contribution will help people call out those who victim-blame, and explain to them why they are wrong, and why their attitudes must change.

R

This post was contributed by Rio Hoe of ConsensusSG.