Domestic violence and intimate partner abuse happens in all kinds of relationships, whether heterosexual or same sex couples. It occurs in all age ranges, from young to old, regardless of ethnicity, religion or economic status. The only common factor is that women and girls are predominantly the people who face abuse by their partners, with between 10 and 60 percent of women having faced intimate partner violence in their lifetime according to UN WomenWatch.
Domestic violence and intimate partner abuse is about the abuse of power to exert control of one partner over another. It isn't always physical. Abusers bully, undermine and threaten their partners. They might control their partner's movements, the money they can spend, the way they dress, who they talk to and where they can go. Sometimes, they coerce partners into having sexual relations, even if the other person does not want to, or to override decisions about the use of contraception. Many survivors of domestic violence state that emotional and psychological abuse is equally, if not more harmful than physical violence.
Sometimes it's hard to draw the line between trust, love and abuse. Your partner may accuse you of having something to hide when you don't allow them to check your mobile phone, go through your SMS, or share passwords to email accounts. They may want to control the way you talk about yourself, or the pictures you post online. Or pressure you to allow your intimate interactions to be recorded on video or photographs.
Your ability to communicate, find information and connect with others is central to your right to live a full life. Ask yourself, does your partner's behaviour curtail your rights to freedom of expression, to participate fully in social, economic and political life, and to exercise self-autonomy and individual self-determination? Who controls your life? You, or your partner? Do you have an equal relationship, where there is healthy respect for each other's rights?
Know the signs. Promote respect. It's your right to live your life fully and freely. Reject controlling behaviour that can lead to an abusive relationship. Take back the tech!
1. KNOW THE SIGNS
- Recognise the signs of an abusive relationship.
- Ask yourself:
- Does your partner insist on checking on your mobile phone all the time to see who you spoke to?
- Does your partner restrict your contact with family and friends?
- Does your partner pressure you to share your passwords as "proof" of trust?
- Does your partner coerce you into taking videos and photographs of yourself in intimate moments?
- Do you have control over private photographs and videos that you have captured while being intimate together?
- Does your partner threaten to share these photos or other private communication with others if you do not comply to his/her wishes?
- Are you afraid of your partner most of the time?
- Does your partner constantly put you down, criticise you or humiliate you and make you feel small and unworthy?
- Does s/he see you as property, instead of a person with rights?
- These are only some of the warning signs that you might be in an abusive relationships.
- Find out more by searching online for a range of resources that can help you identify issues, and provide suggestions of how to change things, or leave the relationship if it becomes violent.
- Find out how you can support someone you know who might be in an abusive relationship.
- It's not easy to leave, for many reasons. From economic to emotional dependence.
- Don't judge her. Instead, understand her reasons and reduce her isolation by being someone she can speak to. Reaffirm her rights and worth as a person.
- If she decides to leave, find out what are her options are.
- The police often don't want to 'interfere' in domestic violence cases. The law often restricts domestic violence to situations of a heterosexual family or couple. The testimony of children may be discounted. Research the options, find out about local shelters, and ask if they provide help for couples of diverse sexualities, for children or for the elderly.
- Read stories that are posted on the Take Back the Tech! map, and leave a comment in support.
3. PASS THE KNOWLEDGE
- Have a conversation with your about warning signs of an abusive relationship.
- Domestic violence and intimate partner abuse is a matter of public concern. Make it known.
- Post the questions on your social networks, and encourage your friends to reflect on their own relationships.
- Build a network of information and support:
- Pass the knowledge to people you meet everyday. Create a community that takes action on abusive relationships.
- Print out the Take Back the Tech! card template and cut out the 9 cards.
- On one side, write down a question or sign of an abusive relationship in the blank space. For example: "Does your partner insist on checking on your mobile phone all the time to see who you spoke to? Controlling behaviour is not okay. Know the signs of abusive relationships. Talk to someone."
- On the other side, list down phone numbers of local women's rights organisations working that provide support on domestic violence and intimate partner abuse. Or websites that provide forums for support or helpful information.
- Give 3 friends 3 cards each. They could be people in your class, your neighbours, colleagues - people that you see everyday.
- Ask them to pass it on to 3 other friends.
- You could also ask them to reprint or make their own 9 cards and pass them on.
Create a world that is free from violence. Don't tolerate abuse. Recognise the signs, build a community of support and take control of technology to end violence against women!