Monday, December 01, 2008

My beautiful daughters and violence against women.

A combination of too many sad posts on too many message boards about violence against women has got me thinking. Too many people are saying that if a woman doesn't go to the police, then it wasn't really rape. If she wore a short skirt or drank alcohol, it wasn't rape. If she shouted at him, then it wasn't really domestic violence (and men get abused too, dontcha know?) and of course, domestic violence doesn't really kill anybody. Not any more, not these days. There's all these womens refuges and divorce is so easy to get, then there's really no reason to stay, is there?
I called my daughter a young lady in my last post, and this is how I want her to grow up. I want her to grow up believing that she will be treated with honour and respect in every aspect of her life, in her public life and her most intimate relationships, and that the inherent good in people will respond to the inherent good in her. I want to believe that in another decade, this battle is over: my boys won't be called pussies or girls as an insult, my girl will never be teased as her body grows from child to woman, never be sexually harassed, never be assaulted for no other reason than her sex. I know that the chances are that even if she is lucky, she's going to know the pain of sitting with a close friend after a lover hits her, the dull numbness of sitting in the police station waiting room after a friend gets raped, those long nights of talking. My friends carried me through, and whilst I love them for it I know it cost them dearly. It cost them their innocence.
A rape cost me my firstborn daughter's life. It cost me my marriage, my ex-husband his sanity. It took my confidence, my belief in myself, in strangers. It left me afraid of enclosed spaces. Those brief hours at knifepoint turned my world upside down, and for what? Was his life really significantly improved by his experience of that time? I'd love to know. What I do know, the article of faith that I have to cling to, is that is was not my fault. It was bad luck. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. HE, not I, was to blame.

The Women's Institute has commissioned a survey into people's perception of and experiences of violence against women. Please, take a minute of your time and fill it in.


Mamawork said...

What a truly horrendous event to have lived through and to live with. It is beyond my imagination.

I am totally on the same page with you and the need to address violence against women. And create a culture of honoring women for our daughters... well, that is what I want, not sure if that is what you wrote. We have such a long way to go.

Helen said...

I think, above and beyond honoring women, I want people to honor themselves. I want people to see the good, the potential, in each and every one of us and to answer the best in you with the best in me.