With all that is going on in the world, the concept of peace may seem impossible. With ongoing wars in Ukraine, Israel, Sudan, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other countries, it can be hard to feel like you can make a difference. During this incredibly challenging time, it is important to remember that peace truly begins at home.
This is especially true when it comes to gender-based violence. This type of violence includes any abuse that is based on a person’s gender, including domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and stalking. Gender-based violence is far too common throughout the United States, including here in Pennsylvania. Per the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 37.1% of Pennsylvania women and 30.4% of Pennsylvania men will experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.
Other types of violence also occur at alarming rates as well. For example, elder abuse – which includes physical violence, sexual abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation – is common throughout the United States. According to the Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA), reports of potential elder abuse are on the rise, with 32,253 reports made in 2017 – 2018 alone.
Gender-based violence and other forms of abuse can affect anyone, regardless of race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. It is also within anyone’s power to end gender-based violence – from right within our homes.
There are small actions and decisions that each of us can make every day to be part of the solution. When we make choices that are safe and respectful in our daily lives, we can help to create a different culture – particularly within our own homes.
What Can You Do to Ensure that Peace Begins at Home?
You can also do little things in your home and beyond that can really add up, such as:
Making an active decision to not engage in physical, emotional, or other types of violence or abuse. If you are engaging in abusive behavior, make a commitment to stop - and get help (such as therapy) to support your decision.
If you have kids, model respectful, healthy communication with them. You should also talk to them regularly about consent and bodily autonomy.
Learn about different types of abuse, and their signs and symptoms. When you understand more about gender-based violence, it will be easier to spot potentially abusive situations – and to avoid engaging in abusive behaviors yourself.
Think critically about the type of movies, TV shows, books, and magazines that you watch, listen to, and read. If you find that much of this media objectifies or degrades women, consider choosing different forms of entertainment.
If you want to learn more, schedule an education or training for your school, community group, religious organization, or workplace. Most of Blackburn Center’s programs are offered free of charge, and are a great way to ensure that more people learn about these important topics.
The idea of being part of the change can be daunting, especially when thinking about the scope of the problem. By taking small steps, we can all make a real, lasting difference. This holiday season and throughout the year, we remind you that peace begins at home.
As always, if you need help, we are here for you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call our hotline anytime at 1-888-832-2272 (TDD available). All calls to our hotline are free of charge and can be anonymous.