International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

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Mentions of violence throughout

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I’m 5 years old, its my birthday. I’ve just had quarrelled with my little brother, he wants to play with my new dollhouse. When its noticed that I’m crying, my punishment is 24 hours sat in the same spot, much too scared to ask for the bathroom.

I’m 8 years old, its 3am. I’ve had another nightmare, and I’m getting shouted at for making too much noise in the night. I’m asked over and over again what I could be dreaming about, but I can’t answer, because the face asking is the same face as in the dream.

I’m 11 years old, its 3pm. I’ve just walked home with a knot of panic deep in my stomach, it’s parents evening tonight. I’ve made sure my record is straight A’s and perfect behaviour, so I don’t set the explosion off, but what if someone doesn’t follow the script I need from them?

I’m 14 years old, its 11am. I haven’t got out of bed yet, because I can hear the yelling, and I don’t want to be in the crossfire. I’ll feel guilty for days though, because I can hear the punches landing and I’m not fixing it.

I’m 17 years old, its 7pm. My cheek is burning and so are my eyes, but I know if I cry, the other side of my face will get a matching bruise. I honestly didn’t mean to break the glass, but I don’t really think it matters.

I’m 20 years old, its 4pm. I’ve never spoken to a police officer before, and now there’s two of them, and they want to know about every single bruise and every single scar and every single fight and every single thing that scares me.

I’m 23 years old, its 8pm. I’m in a different house with a different name and a different life. I can hear my mum laughing with my siblings in the living room downstairs, and she sounds free. They all do, and I guess I do too.

I wish that 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20-year-old could see and know that this is coming for her.

The thing about violence is that its not an abstract, single concept. Its days, times, events. Its the childhoods, the marriages, the friendships. Sometimes it’s a complete stranger.

This year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, I’d invite you to look at the person at the heart of this discussion. Sometimes its not that hard; a lot of us have been that person, or we’ve known that person. In amongst the statistics and the infographics, that person exists, and they can hear you when you speak out. They see you when you voice your opinion, and they appreciate you when you offer them support.

This year’s International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, try to let that person see you.

For a list of resources you can access for support, please head to this post and scroll to the bottom

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