Author: Keetha Mercer
Keetha Mercer, Manager of Violence Prevention Programs at the Canadian Women’s Foundation. Former youth facilitator and program designer, conflict resolution specialist, and social justice enthusiast who has worked for over 10 years in feminist organizations. Former punk rocker, aspiring herbalist, chocoholic with one too many tattoos who enjoys laughing at her own jokes and is semi-seriously planning her escape off the grid.
There is no question: Violence affects mental health. In fact, the World Health Organization and the Public Health Agency of Canada have both recognized gender-based violence as a significant public health issue
This article was originally published on the Huffington Post.
Chances are you know someone who has experienced gender-based violence (GBV). 67% of all Canadians say they personally know at least one woman who has been sexually or physically assaulted – and that’s just those that have been told. Stigma and fear of not being believed are real concerns of survivors and many women avoid telling people close to them because they don’t think they will be supported.
The positive effects of having supportive people around when someone decides to share their experiences cannot be underestimated. Not only does it open up the possibility of sharing at all, it encourages survivors to seek counselling and other supports, reducing levels of depression, anxiety and PTSD, and lessening the likelihood of experiencing abuse again. If someone chooses to disclose to you, the best thing you can do is believe them, avoid judgement, put their needs first, and understand that everyone reacts differently to trauma.
Today, November 25th, is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. It kicks off the annual 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, ending on International Human Rights Day on December 10th.
Every year we take these 16 days to remember all the women and girls who have experienced gender-based violence, and commit ourselves to work together to end violence against women once and for all.
I can tell Valentine’s Day is coming because I’m getting tons of a promo emails that include such gems as “His & Her” mugs that look like they’re kissing when placed together. Ladies, maybe you’d like to buy your special guy an engraved bottle opener that fits in his wallet like a credit card? There are also long lists of gift suggestions for guys – apparently most men are clueless when it comes to gift buying?
The people who generate these emails seem to have caught onto the fact that single people like love too, because there are also lots of fun ideas for gifts to buy yourself.