Gender-based violence - including domestic abuse, sexual violence, and stalking - affects tens of millions of Americans each year. In fact, according to 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 forms of violence, such as elder abuse and human trafficking, are similarly pervasive. The National Coalition on Aging (NCOA) reports that 1 in 10 adults aged 60+ have experienced some form of abuse or neglect.
Although some groups are more vulnerable, this type of violence can affect anyone, regardless of race, class, sexual orientation, gender identity, or religion. The roots of gender-based violence lie in our own homes. As Mother Theresa said, “peace and war begin at home. If we truly want peace in the world, let us begin by loving one another in our own families. If we want to spread joy, we need for every family to have joy.”
The decisions that we make on an individual basis can truly have an impact on our community as a whole. The best way to end gender-based violence is to stop it before it starts. When we focus on making our homes safe, respectful, joyful places, we can bring about real, lasting change.
There are many ways that you can be part of the solution. You can donate to or volunteer for Blackburn Center. You can also make changes in your personal life to ensure that peace truly does begin at home. This may include:
1. If you engage in acts of physical, emotional, or other forms of violence in your home, commit to change. Therapy, counseling, and other forms of assistance can help you learn different ways of interacting with your loved ones.
2. Lead by example by showing others in your home how to communicate with respect. If you have children, this should include lessons on consent and respecting their bodily autonomy.
3. Consider the media you consume and how it affects you and your belief system. If you regularly watch, read, or otherwise view media that degrades women, make a commitment to choose different forms of media.
4. Educate yourself about different types of abuse. Learning the signs and symptoms of abuse can help you recognize potentially abusive situations, and may also help you as you talk to your own kids about these issues.
5. Consider scheduling an education or training program for your school, business, community group, or church.
When we each make small changes in our lives, it can add up to a big difference. This holiday season - and always - we ask you to remember that peace begins at home.
As always, if you need help, we are here for you. Our hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week: 1-888-832-2272 (TDD available). Calls to the hotline are free of charge and can be anonymous.