Today is the international day for the elimination of violence against women. In my country, it is also the lesser know Saint-Catherine, the day for the spinsters. In some parts of the country, this is still celebrated.
Unfortunately, unlike the Saint-Catherine, which is on the decline, violence against women are on the rise, everywhere. Part of the explanations is women are more encouraged to tell about their abuses. Yet, there’s still a minority of women who have the courage to denounce their abusive partner.
According to the World Health Organisation, more than one third of all homicides of women are committed by a current or former partner. Nearly a third of women report having experience violence at some point in their life, at the hands of a partner.
Violence is not isolated among a social class. A friend of mine told me his father, who was a professor of philosophy, used to shout at his mother, saying she wasn’t good enough for him, and used to bring home all of his mistresses, in front of his spouse. She wasn’t allowed to say anything to him. “He would be angry as hell if she dared to try” my friend recalls.
Another friend of mine, who’s a nurse, told me she met once a woman who used to be physically abused by her husband. “She didn’t have any bruises. But her husband tore her hair and dragged her across the room like that” my friend said. “She knew she would have some difficulties to prove she was abused, because she didn’t have any bruise on her body” she added. “Her husband was the CEO of a well-known company”.
It is said an abusive partner isolates you from your relatives and friends. “When I wanted to see my parents, he became violent with me” one of my acquaintances said.
Unfortunately, when you face an abusive partner, the best option is to disappear from his life. But it’s not easy if you have kids. One of my friends, who’s a lawyer, told me she received a bullet in a letter from the husband of one of her clients, who hid from him, and waited for their divorce to be pronounced. “He threatened to kill me, as he threatened to kill her” she said.
In France, there was a case where the spouse was abused for many years, and forced into prostitution by his husband. Once, as he was about to hit her with a knife, she defended herself by pulling the knife into his chest. He died. The court argued it was legitimate defense, and she wasn’t condemned to jail for this.
In any case, it’s important to have the courage to say stop to violence.