Violence Against Women Isn’t Inevitable, It’s Unbearable

Content Advisory: This article’s content relates to all forms of Gender-based violence, including sexual misconduct and assault. It discusses common reactions to GBV and impacts of trauma. If you would like to access support, without reading further, please follow this link.

UofG 4th Year Medical Student Caitlin standing in front of a wall smiling.

We live in a time of great change, of infinite potential - a vaccine to cure a pandemic was created and distributed in under a year. When we want to band together, to make a difference, to save lives, we can. It is important to remember that.

It is important to remember that it was not only frontline workers who fought COVID-19, but a footballer, a 100-year-old ex-veteran and a PE teacher that helped us during these troubling times. It is clear we all have the potential to make impactful changes.

It is important to remember that when everything seems impossible and fatalities seem inevitable, we can rise to the challenge.

This determination and mindset should not be limited to plagues of the body but also to those of society. With reporting’s of abduction, rape, death and brutality against women overwhelming our headlines, the time to be the change you wish to see, is now. The epidemic that is violence against women must be stopped.

However, we rely too much on women to publicly detail their assaults, or already saturated specialist services to draw attention to and attack this issue for us. And of course, they do.

I am consistently in awe of the strength of survivors and solidarity of allies. This should not be the case though. Survivors should not feel under obligation to scream for support. It is essential we all throw our voices into the mix. We must all be on hand to shout when other voices tire.

How is it that “the rapist’ became a nickname jokingly appointed, flippantly thrown around, as opposed to this individual being reported in disgust? I appreciate not every individual who makes a lewd remark or unwanted advance turns into a cold-blooded criminal or sexual predator. But, why wait to find out?

It can feel impossible to confront friends or take ownership of any unsavoury actions and being an active by-stander is challenging. Indeed, constant reflection is tiring. Surely, however, it is far better to be uncomfortable and an ally, than complacent and ignorant. Early interventions could save lives, that is clear.

We must all remain mindful of how we discuss violence against women. It is easy to blame the victims for their own attacks, to find flaws in their dress sense, social habits or ‘overly-friendly’ demeanours.

I understand that this might make the unimaginable seem somewhat in women’s control. A consequence of some misguided decision. It makes it seem as if it could not possibly happen to you. However, as well as shaming survivors, deterring them from seeking support and inhibiting healing, this attitude ignores what is abundantly obvious. Going for a walk at night does not cause assault. Only assaulting someone does.

Equally, such viewpoints overlook overwhelming evidence that demonstrates danger most commonly lurks behind closed doors, not in dimly lit parks and alleys. No curfew or safety advice can prevent that.

The only discussions of less interest than the hobbies and lifestyles of survivors, should be those surrounding the perpetrators. Whether they are “well educated”, “a family man” or “upstanding citizen” remains entirely irrelevant. It does not matter if they “seemed like the type”.

If they committed the crime, then they are guilty irrespective of how this follows our societal narratives regarding class and education. It is only when we begin to scratch beneath the surface of our expectations, as to how a criminal presents, that we begin to realise violence against women can be executed by any person who does not value the lives of women. Any person who does not consider women equal. Unfortunately, this appears to be far too many.

Every day we choose to make a questionable comment, or allow a misogynistic joke to go unchallenged, we further fuel this crisis.

Confronting societal stigma and personal misconceptions can be unpleasant, however, allowing these tragedies to continue is unbearable. Violence against women is not inevitable and should stop being excused as such. The time to act is now and we all have the power to make a difference.


Read more articles by Caitlan Stuart-Delavaine 

In the fight against gender-based violence, awareness is health workers' greatest weapon.

Please stop giving me safety advice, just keep me safe.

Support For Survivors

Support for anyone affected by sexual violence or assault is incredibly important, and a very personal choice. There is support available within the University of Glasgow to anyone that needs it, as well as the ability to report issues anonymously. We also understand that survivors may wish to seek support externally and a list of specialist agencies is listed below along with internal information, to help you find the support that feels right for you.  

Whether you seek help from within the University or externally, remember you are not alone and support is always available when you need it.

A sexual assault is a traumatic event and survivors may experience a range of reactions and feelings, all of which are very normal and understandable. Below are some of the most commonly reported reactions for those affected:  

  • Feeling of shock/numbness
  • Heightened feelings of fear or anxiety
  • Flashbacks
  • Anger
  • Nightmares
  • Mood swings
  • Nausea
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feelings of guilt/self-blame
  • Loss of appetite
  • Avoiding company
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
Coping Strategies

These reactions can be distressing but are completely normal responses given the trauma survivors have experienced.

It is important for survivors to take care of themselves and the have support available should they need it; it is also important to remember that with the right support people can and do deal with the impact of sexual assault.

Below are some coping strategies survivors might find helpful through this time:

  • Seek out support from people who are important to you – try not to isolate yourself or avoid activities you’d usually engage in.
  • Write down how you are feeling to help you process your thoughts – it is also important to remind yourself that you did not cause the sexual assault; the person responsible is the person who assaulted you.
  • Try to maintain a regular routine as best as you can, as this will give you a sense of stability and safety.
  • Get plenty of rest, even if you find it difficult.
  • Make time for relaxation; you may find some simple breathing exercises helpful.
  • Get regular exercise, such as a daily walk.
  • Talk things through with someone you trust - a friend, counsellor or family member can all help provide support and help you process what has happened.

Further information is available on the University’s webpages, if you have been affected by sexual violence, or are supporting someone who has been.

You can seek help via the University’s reporting tool, or you can request a consultation with the Counselling Service to help deal with the emotions that you may be experiencing.


The SafeZone App

We’d also like to highlight the UofG SafeZone App, which is an app monitored 24 hours a day by the UofG Security team, helping ensure the safety and security of our staff and students - whether it be on campus, at halls or worldwide.

You can find out more and download the app here.

Students Representative Council (SRC)

Read the "Working Toward a Dear Safe Space at the University of Glasgow" blog by Ella McCabe President of the SRC.

External specialist support is also available

We understand that if you have been affected by gender-based violence you may be more comfortable in seeking information or support from an external source, and there are a many specialist agencies available to support you:

  • Rape Crisis Scotland provide a national helpline and email support to anyone affected by sexual assault. Details of their helpline information, email address and text number can be found on their website.
  • Useful information on reporting and support services can also be found on the Police Scotland website.
  • Support is available from the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (Archway). This is open 24 hours a day to anyone in the Glasgow area who has been raped or sexually assaulted. The offer a variety of services including counselling; they can be contacted via their website or on 0141 211 8175.
  • Support Line provides information for survivors of sexual assault and helpline details can be found on the Support Line website
 

 

 

 

First published: 7 October 2021

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