Gender-based violence (GBV) and intimate partner violence (IPV) are characterized by stalking, sexual and physical violence and psychological aggression by a current or former partner.
These types of abuse don’t discriminate. In fact, these types of abuse can affect anyone regardless of age, race, culture, gender, sex, education or socioeconomic status.
The statistics for GBV and IPV continue to be alarming across the world. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience physical violence by their intimate partner at some point during their lifetimes. And approximately 1 in 3 women and nearly 1 in 6 men experience some form of sexual violence during their lifetimes. Rates of intimate partner violence, sexual violence, and stalking are high, with intimate partner violence affecting over 10 million people each year.
The social stigma of GBV and IPV
Many individuals who experience GBV or IPV choose to stay under the radar due to shame that they have chosen to stay in an abusive relationship, whether they are suffering from physical abuse, emotional abuse or both. Oftentimes, reporting the perpetrators’s abusive behaviour may lead them to feel embarrassed or humiliated to recount the traumatizing details, especially if it’s something they have endured for years.
For example, sometimes the individual may fear being labeled as a “bad parent” if they don’t stay with their abuser. For some, it is easier to rationalize that they are living with a bad spouse, but a good parent.
Unfortunately for many survivors, this fear stems from the fact they are often treated differently, both personally and professionally, after details of their abuse is shared.
In a study entitled “Perceptions of Domestic Violence,” Yamawaki et al. (2012) found that study participants attributed more blame to a survivor who returned to the abuser, as compared with a survivor about whom they had no such information.
The study also concluded that participants who held myths about domestic violence attributed more blame to the survivor and that men blamed the survivor and minimized the abuse more than women did.
In conclusion, individuals often stay in abusive relationships for fear of how they’ll be treated by others who learn about the abuse.
Empowering GBV and IPV survivors
Continued education and community awareness of GBV and IPV can help to reduce the stigma that unfortunately causes many individuals to suffer in silence. Through support and encouragement to report abuse, along with job stability assurance, you can help survivors break the vicious cycle and be on the road to living a more fulfilling life.
If you or someone you know are in crisis, contact:
Crisis Line: Kitchener/Waterloo: 519-742-5894
Crisis Line: Cambridge: 519-653-2422
Assaulted Women’s Helpline Crisis Line: 866-863-0511