By: Trisha Zimmerman
“Don’t go out by yourself. Make sure you are well covered if you go out after dark. Never leave your drink unattended at a party. “
As women, we are told we need to follow these rules in order to avoid being assaulted. If we are assaulted, and have not strictly followed the rules, then society maintains that we are partially to blame. As women, we have all been warned about these things. Victim blaming can make the violence seem as though it is merely a fault of the women who were assaulted, and that we should follow the rules better. In reality, assault against women is a societal problem that affects us all every day. For women, it teaches us that we need to be ashamed of assault because it is a shortcoming in our ability to follow rules. In men, it teaches them that, although at a basic level assaulting a woman is bad, there are some situations where the women are “asking for it”, and it is more acceptable.
However, there is a larger underlying problem than this. Most of us have already heard about victim blaming. The larger problem lies in the reality that society does not know what to do to prevent this problem. Yes, violence against women is problem. No, we have no idea how to prevent it. Because victim blaming makes it seem as though the problem is only effecting those assaulted, society sees it as a problem, but accepts it as a way of life because they don’t know what they can do.
THERE IS SOMETHING WE CAN DO ABOUT IT. It is our duty as humans to do what we can to protect each other. Spreading awareness about the problem can make a world of difference. Teaching others what constitutes assault and victim blaming, and why this is morally wrong, can change the lives of people everywhere. Talking to friends, family, even coworkers about these things to get people thinking and can lead to an awareness of the problem that in and of itself prevents it from occurring. DO NOT ACCEPT GENDERED VIOLENCE AS A WAY OF LIFE. Stand up against it. With education, society will begin to speak out against gendered violence. Women will begin to recognize abuse more easily, and realize they do not need to live with this abuse. Do not just be a bystander to assault. Educate the people around you about the issue and how they can decide to do something about it as well. Working together, we can prevent gendered violence through education.
You may be thinking, “I am just one person. How is one person going to make any difference? Yes, you are one person, but you are educating countless others about the issue. By raising awareness in them, and encouraging them to educate dozens of others, you can quickly impact a great number of lives. Even if your teaching changes the life of one woman, you have made a difference. Together, we can prevent gendered violence.