10 November 2017

Five big and small ways you can #breakthesilence on gender-based violence

Submitted by Kelly Fraser
Five big and small ways you can #breakthesilence on gender-based violence

As part of creating awareness around the 16 days of activism, which commences on 25th November (Orange Day), Edgars invites you to take part in the forthcoming 6km Edgars UNiTE Orange Run on the 2nd December at Mushroom Park Sandton. We are putting the active in activism and saying NO to violence against women and girls.

#BreaktheSilence, DO NOT look away and DON'T be a bystander. Here are five big and small ways that we can all use to put an end to Gender Based Violence:

1. LISTEN AND BELIEVE This issue is real and the way you respond to a survivor WILL make a difference. When a survivor of violence takes that brave step to speak out, the most important thing they need from you is to just sit and listen. Let them know that both they and what they went through are important. Listen to what they have to say, don’t analyse or plan a response, just allow them to be truly heard. Always reassure them that, ‘it’s not their fault”.

The reality is that the person who assaulted them is always to blame, it’s never the victim’s fault and there was nothing different they should have done to prevent it. And finally, one of the most important things you can do for survivors is to believe and tell them: “I believe you.” A lot of people don’t ever report their assault because they’re afraid that no one will believe them. If they decide to report it, they will have the experience repeatedly challenged by the police, in court and potentially the media. Survivors often face the de-legitimization of their assault throughout their life, so it’s important that you offer unconditional support.

It is incredibly difficult for some women and girls to talk about or report their experience of harassment, rape or other forms of gender-based violence. Be aware of the signs and symptoms of violence and abuse - bruises, scratches, cuts, and burns, as well as emotional signs such as anxiety, withdrawal, fear and sadness. Don’t walk on by if you witness assault or harassment on the street or anywhere: assess the situation, then intervene or defuse the situation. If you’re unsure what to do or the risk is too high, ask for help or contact your nearest police station.

Sometimes we may feel like we know what the survivor needs to do in this situation or we want to run and find help. We must remember that it’s not about us and it is more useful to ask “Is there anything I can do to support you right now?” It is important to remember to go at the survivors pace and give them the space to do what they are comfortable doing in their own time. Offer to drive them and/or accompany them (with their permission) to any of the organisations that will provide them with help, to the police station, the hospital for a medical exam or to a counselor for therapy. If you suspect that a woman or girl close to you is being abused or has been sexually assaulted, gently ask if you can help connect them to support services. Help and support the organizations that support survivors of violence.

You DO have the power to change things. And you start by leading by example. For men, question your own beliefs and behaviours and how they may disrespect or harm women. Sexist language and street harassment all contribute to a culture of violence. Talk to your friends, colleagues and relatives and encourage them to actively take a stand against the abuse of women and children. Talk about violence against women and children. Organize community discussions; speak to people at your workplace, your church, your community forums etc. Attend programs, take courses, watch films, and read articles and books about gender based violence and its root causes. If you’re a father, teach your sons to respect women. Teach your daughters that they are never to blame, empower them and give them the confidence and support to speak up.

5. GET INVOLVED Be part of any movement that seeks to end Gender Based Violence especially the Edgars UNiTE Orange Run on the 2nd December 2017 at Mushroom Park.

Venue: Mushroom Park, Sandton
Race Fee: R120 / Kids under 12 run for free (includes T-Shirt)
Start Time: 7am
Registration: www.orangerun.co.za or at your nearest Edgars store.

For More Information visit www.orangerun.co.za Learn more about the Edgars UNiTE Orange Day Campaign and follow the following social media pages:
Facebook: Edgars UNiTE Orange Day
Twitter: @EdgarsOrangeDay
Instagram: EdgarsUNiTEOrangeDay

Published in Sports Range