What can you do?

Use empowering language: 

  • Language matters. We perceive the world around us through words but words can have different meanings and interpretations. Language frames not only how we understand the problem but also how effectively we will respond to it.
  • Whether you are speaking in a group about the problem of violence against women in the community, talking to a friend or with someone who has been affected by violence, language can do justice or cause harm.
  • If you are a supporter speaking in public or at a community event, avoid referring to women who had violence inflicted on them as 'victims' as that term may not reflect a women's full identity, but instead define her in terms of something that is only part of her experience. A better choice would be using 'victim/survivor' terminology as it acknowledges the crime committed against a women while at the same time recognising her agency and life beyond violence.

Stay informed and educate yourself:

  • Educate yourself about the causes, drivers and consequences of violence against women. Learn more about domestic and family violence and sexual violence and help spread that knowledge.
  • In our technology-saturated world, women are subjective to violence through their phone and online too. This includes stalking, control, threats, bullying and image-based abuse both in the context of domestic and family violence and more generally it is important to know how to use technology carefully to help find safety for yourself and other people who may be subjected to technology-facilitated abuse.

Respond to someone disclosing violence appropriately:

  • If you need to support someone who has disclosed to you the violence inflicted on them, or who has asked you for help, language matters immensely.
  • Whoever it may be, your friend, colleague or family member, respond appropriately and make sure that they feel supported and encouraged to talk to you and seek help. Listen and believe. 
  • Never dismiss family violence a just a "domestic" or suggest that sexual violence might have been a "misunderstanding".
  • Provide support. Sometimes practical assistance such as assisting with shopping or picking children up from school (with proper authorisation) can be of great help. Never Judge or blame a woman about the violence, regardless of the circumstances or her background.

Speak up:

  • Violence is never okay. Challenge practises that condone violence against women and encourage others to speak up. Sexist jokes are never okay no matter the circumstances they are told in or the position of a teller.
  • As a 'bystander' - someone who observes an act of violence. discrimination or other unacceptable or offensive behaviour, you can play a powerful role in preventing and responding to violence against women, challenge safely where you can. Tell your friends sexist jokes are not funny and challenge them where you safely can, if they speak about women in a derogatory way. If you can, confront colleagues whose comments are sexist, blame the victim or minimise issues of violence.
  • if you are a manager, make sure that everyone in the office is treated fairly and has the chance to reach their potential. Do not let your perception of their gender distort your decisions.