Around the world different months have different observances and of course October is no exception. Two of Octobers best known observances are for Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence. A vast majority of people will know the symbol associated with Breast Cancer Awareness is universally a pink ribbon but not as many will know that there is also a symbol associated with Domestic Violence Awareness. In the United States the symbol is a purple ribbon and in Canada, Ireland and other countries the ribbon is white. These ribbons are not only symbols supporting the end of domestic violence and violence against women but they are also campaigns dedicated to it.
When the Purple Ribbon Project was first launched it was so successful that word quickly spread about its great message. They wanted to make it clear that violence against women was (and is) unacceptable and to make it a topic that could be openly talked about. It was also set up to promote awareness and understanding of the problem of violence against women. They believe “violence is rooted in inequality” and encourage both men and women to wear a purple ribbon and get involved in spreading their message that any kind of violence is intolerable.
The White Ribbon Campaign, like Slutwalk, was born in Canada and both stem from the mistreatment of women. The White Ribbon Campaign started in 1991, two years after the Montreal Massacre happened. The Montreal Massacre was when Marc Lepine shot and killed 14 women, and wounded a number of others, before turning the gun on himself. The reason women were his primary target was because he hated feminists as they had “ruined his life.” In response to this awful tragedy a small group of men got together as they felt they had to start speaking out against violence towards women. The white ribbon was the symbol the men chose to show their opposition to any kind of violent act against women. This campaign quickly grew and to date there have been campaigns in more than 60 countries.
Movements like these are invaluable when it comes to raising awareness on the taboo subject of domestic violence and violence against women. Some men and women can find it very difficult to openly talk about this kind of subject matter, but thankfully now these topics are coming into the forefront and being discussed more and more. Last year American Vice President Joe Biden launched a new initiative: 1is2many in the hope of changing the attitudes of young people regarding dating violence, domestic violence and violence against women in general (another great reason to vote for the Democrats!) They even went so far as to release a public safety announcement on the issue which included appearances from President Obama and a host of sports stars such as David Beckham.
Unfortunately when it comes to Domestic Violence it’s only the negative stories that get the most press, stay etched in our memories and in some cases are made light of, instead of the great work done by so many organizations. I would imagine most people have been witness to a joke or two made about the abusive relationship of Ike and Tina Turner whether on television or in real life. In the May 2005 edition of O magazine, Tina talks at length about the abuse she suffered at the hands of Ike and I can assure you it is no laughing matter. More recently there has been the widely known and frequently debated account of Chris Brown and his assault of then girlfriend Rihanna. Everybody had an opinion on it. The details of what happened that night are as chilling and shocking as the photographic evidence of Brown’s handy work.
Although there is a lot of good being done in numerous countries and by various organizations when it comes to issues of domestic abuse, it seems that this good has always come from something bad and that isn’t good enough. What needs to happen is more good stemming from good. Don’t wait until your hear a horrible story in the news about violence against women to have an opinion about it. Don’t wait until it directly affects you or someone you know before you get involved or campaign against domestic violence. Don’t laugh or joke about it because it isn’t funny, anyone who has ever been on the receiving end of a punch will tell you that.
Domestic Abuse is happening all around us; just because it goes on behind closed doors and fake smiles it doesn’t mean we should ignore it. It doesn’t matter where you are from, the only way Domestic Violence is going to stop is if everyone gets involved, supports a campaign, and speaks out against it. A problem shared is a problem halved so the more vocal we become about it the smaller the problem will get. Domestic Violence is wrong so stand up against it and be counted. Don’t’ be violent and don’t be silent.
This post is part of the YWCA Week Without Violence blog carnival on issues of violence in all forms. We invite you to join the dialogue! Post your comment below, share your story on your blog or website, and follow the conversation on Twitter with the hashtag #ywcaWWV.
Yvonne Ní Mhurchú promotes female empowerment, safety and equality. She lives in Limerick City, Ireland. Yvonne studies Psychology and Philosophy at Mary Immaculate College and is a Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) Support Worker at Rape Crisis Midwest. She is completing a Rape Crisis Counselling course at Rape Crisis Midwest as well. Yvonne’s writing has also been published on ihollaback.org.