By: Kristine Alonso
Emotional and psychological trauma is the result of extraordinarily stressful events that shatter your sense of security, making you feel helpless in a dangerous world. Psychological trauma can leave you struggling with upsetting emotions, memories, and anxiety that won’t go away and surviving it may need a lot of work to be done.
One of the most controversial topics that human rights advocates get concerned with is the increase of abuse in women and children such as rape, discrimination, manipulation, and violence.
The impact of this is long-term and it takes a lot of courage and compassion for advocates to let victims speak up and cooperate to the needed recovery.
Frank Garufu, counsellor at the Rape Crisis Centre in Cape Town, South Africa has intensively committed his time and work at helping women and children who are victims of crime.
Particularly, the crime of rape generally refers to non-consensual sexual intercourse that is committed by physical force, threat of injury, or other duress.
The United Nations defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”
Population-level surveys based on reports from survivors provide the most accurate estimates of the prevalence of intimate partner violence and sexual violence
Garufu states that there are people who desire to protect and save victims of this cause and as a counsellor who dedicates to protecting women and children of their rights, this can also be a magnitude to step up against the common “victim-blaming” notion and help create courage for victims to fight.
Over a quarter of women aged15-49 years who have been in a relationship have been subjected to physical and/or sexual violence by their intimate partner at least once in their lifetime (since age 15). The prevalence estimates of lifetime intimate partner violence range from 20% in the Western Pacific, 22% in high-income countries and Europe and 25% in the WHO Regions of the Americas to 33% in the WHO African region, 31% in the WHO Eastern Mediterranean region, and 33% in the WHO South-East Asia region.
Globally, as many as 38% of all murders of women are committed by intimate partners and in addition to intimate partner violence, globally 6% of women report having been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner, although data for non-partner sexual violence are more limited. Intimate partner and sexual violence are mostly perpetrated by men against women.
Recently, there has been an increase in the maltreatment of women and children especially in third world countries due to the COVID-19 pandemic where most perpetrators are the closest contacts these victims have- such as the patriarch of the home like father, brother, uncle, or husband. But whatever distinction an alleged predator may have, people like Garufu continuously keep watch on the ongoing silent war of abuse towards women and children.
Factors may include the cultural exposure of both perpetrator and victim towards lower levels of education (perpetration of sexual violence and experience of sexual violence). Consideration of a history of exposure to child maltreatment can also be strong. There are also factors that are quite impactful to invite abuse and violence to a situation and this can also trigger by witnessing violence within the family or home which may induce anti-social personality disorders and other severe psychological issues.
Harmful masculine behaviours, including having multiple partners or attitudes that condone violence (perpetration) can also contribute to such acts.
But the influence of community norms that privilege or ascribe higher status to men and lower status to women can be highly influential as well. Low levels of women’s access to paid employment and low level of gender equality (discriminatory laws, etc.).
Nonetheless, these issues are giving due consideration and is quite given further study by volunteers and advocates such as Garufu and he believes that these issues can be overpowering and shifted where there is a healthier environment for these women and children to thrive.
By: Kristine Alonso