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Violence Against Women Must End Now

Lifestyle & Opinion

By: Nicolet Hartmann

Chris Brown beats Rihanna to such a severe point that she needs to be hospitalized. Ray Rice knocks his fiancée unconscious and drags her limp body out of an elevator. In today’s society, it seems as if the only time we hear about violence against women is when someone famous is accused of a cringe-worthy act. Most people don’t hear about the average woman who gets attacked as she walks to her car at night, or the one with a boyfriend who appears successful and charismatic to the rest of the world but unleashes his stress out on her in private.

So why don’t we hear about this? And what can we do to stop it? There are no clear answers. However, a big step is to spread awareness that this is a much greater issue than people realize. An even larger step in the right direction is to talk about the knowledge (or lack there of) when it comes to physical attacks on women’s safety. Jackson Katz is one of the United States’ prominent male activists on gender equality and appeared on Ted Talks to readdress the issue as men’s violence against women to include men in this issue and stand by the women who need them. Katz said, “Calling gender violence a women’s issue is part of the problem. It gives a lot of men an excuse not to pay attention.”

The statistics for the topic are beyond perilous. The National Organization for Women and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence stated that in 2016, women in the United States are expected to experience approximately 5 million physical attacks. Of which, less than 20 percent will be report the incident and seek medical treatment. One in every four women is expected to experience severe physical violence in her lifetime, and a woman in the United States is beaten every nine seconds. [1]

Violence against women is a pandemic that no one can has figured out how to neutralize. However, the first step is to make sure that women who have been attacked can go to a safe place to report the incident, seek medical help if necessary, and find that the perpetrator faces repercussions for their actions. This is how Amelia*, a 23 year old SPC student feels.

This past August, Amelia and her friend, Martha*, walked one block to her car after they left a downtown bar on her birthday. They overheard a man make obscene comments, and he followed them. When Martha asked him to stop, he punched her in the mouth and split her lip open, which provoked Amelia to shove the man off her friend. Displeased with her intervention, the attacker struck Amelia multiple times until she was unconscious on the side of the road. The man ran off as a witness called the cops and an ambulance. Amelia recalls the police suggested she not press charges for two reasons. The first being they didn’t feel like there was a chance to catch the man. The second reason was that although Martha could press charges, since Amelia shoved the man off Martha before he touched her, he was thus acting in self-defense.

Amelia said, “The police had a sense of nonchalance about the situation. Almost like they’ve seen it so many times, and it wasn’t worth their effort”. She was sent by ambulance to the hospital where she was treated for severe facial contusions, dual black eyes, a broken nose, a chipped tooth, and a two inch gash on the back of her head which caused a moderate concussion. “I honestly wasn’t sure if I was more hurt by all that or the fact that no one on the scene seemed to want to help.” [2]

Many victims of physical violence claim they don’t report the incident because they are ashamed of their story, and no good will come from reporting it anyway. Others feel as though they’ve been through enough, and if law enforcement doesn’t care then nobody else will. As a society, this issue must be treated with the utmost delicacy and genuine concern; otherwise no progress will be made. We don’t hear about these stories because women are too scared to report them.

Rose*, a 25 year old SPC student and victim of domestic violence, believes women need to be educated on the warning signs of abusive relationships before it escalates to physical violence so they are able to protect themselves. She lived with her boyfriend for two years, and over that time was the victim of multiple attacks. Rose stated, “The best way to end the cycle is to not let one begin in the first place.” She also recommends all women take basic self-defense classes to feel secure in any situation.

St. Petersburg College doesn’t offer any courses or seminars set up for women’s self-defense or counseling for victims. However, victims can find plenty of support all around St. Petersburg. Community Action Stops Abuse is an emergency shelter located in both St. Petersburg and Tampa that helps victims of domestic violence. Keystone Counseling is a group located in Brandon that offers a class called “Silence Behind the Walls” and for $30 a session, a therapist goes over the levels of domestic violence from the signs of abusive relationships to how to break the cycle.

St. Petersburg offers many locations where women can take self-defense classes. Martial Arts Kickboxing located at 4400 34th St. N in St. Petersburg, offers C.O.B.R.A. certified self-defense classes, which have a unique emphasis on scenario training. These classes are also offered at Empower Gym on 5638 W. Waters Ave in Tampa, Fl.

As a society, we have seen little to no progress when it comes to physical acts of violence against women. How long will women suffer in silence while their sense of security and self worth is ripped away from them? We must band together; no longer can we stand by, absent-minded, and allow a quarter of our women to feel mutilated with fear. Jackson Katz said, “I hope that going forward, men and women, working together, can begin the transformation so that future generations won’t have the level of tragedy that we deal with on a daily basis.”[3]

[1] Approximately 8 women have been attacked so far into reading this article

[2] Approximately 22 women have been attacked so far into reading this article

[3] Approximately 40 women have been attacked so far into reading this article

Header photo by Alessandra Morfeo (flickr creative commons)

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