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Shifting the Narrative on Gender-Based Violence: Breaking the Chains of Silence



You may remember our recent, in-depth conversations on this vital issue. We started with Voices Unheard: A Feminist Insight into the Silent Storm of Sexual Harassment, uncovering the hidden struggles many survivors of gender-based violence endure. Next, Gender Inequality in the Spotlight: The Controversy over Consent in Spain's Women's World Cup 2023 compelled us to challenge and dismantle patriarchal norms. Then, Victim-Blaming vs. Survivor-Centric Language: An Essential Conversation showed how narratives of sexual harassment are not mere isolated incidents but collective calls for systemic change.


Our latest blog post, Reflecting on the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, added a new dimension to this series. A friend recently messaged me, jesting that the feminist and writer in me would relish the 16 Days of Activism, perhaps even producing an article daily. While I admit the temptation was there, I decided against it. I am acutely aware that discussing gender-based violence ad nauseam can lead to fatigue, even in the most dedicated readers. Therefore, I chose to write only two detailed posts during this period, ensuring quality and impact over quantity.


Some readers might question the need for another article on gender-based violence, wondering if five posts on the same theme are excessive. To this, I say: the significance of gender-based violence warrants continuous exploration. Each post offers unique insights and perspectives, contributing to a broader understanding of the issue. Yes, gender-based violence is a topic so critical that it necessitates ongoing discussion. Yet, I also acknowledge the importance of balance, hence my decision to limit my contributions during the 16 Days of Activism.


This latest post, therefore, is not just another article; it is a crucial addition that enhances our collective discourse. Shifting the Narrative: Breaking the Chains of Silence urges us to disrupt the status quo, moving from blame to empowerment. It is a call to action, prompting us to rethink our approach and strive for a society where dignity and safety are paramount for all.


Underreporting of Gender-Based Violence

Underreporting is a critical concern in the fight against gender-based violence. Globally, an estimated 736 million women, almost one in three, have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence at least once in their lives (UN Women). However, less than 40% of these women seek help of any sort. Among those who do, most turn to family and friends, and fewer than 10% report to the police This data highlights the immense gap between incidents of gender-based violence and the reporting thereof, underscoring the need for more supportive and accessible systems for survivors. This silence, fueled by multiple factors a, allows gender-based violence to thrive in the shadows.


Why is Gender-Based Violence Often Unreported?


Societal stigma and victim blaming as drivers of under-reporting gender-based violence

The reluctance of survivors of gender-based violence to seek help is significantly influenced by societal stigma and victim blaming. These deep-rooted issues not only contribute to the silence of survivors but also present numerous challenges when they consider reporting their experiences. Statistics reveal that less than 40% of women who experience violence seek any help, and among them, fewer than 10% approach formal institutions like the police, as reported by UN Women. This hesitancy often stems from the fear of societal judgement and the potential consequences of challenging established norms.


Societal stigma often manifests in the form of ostracisation and the labelling of survivors as 'damaged goods', especially in cases of sexual violence. This significantly deters survivors from speaking out. Furthermore, victim blaming exacerbates this situation, where survivors face scrutiny over their actions, attire, or behaviour, leading to self-doubt and shame. Questions like "What were you wearing?" or "Why did not you say something sooner?" serve to invalidate the experiences of survivors and reinforce the culture of silence surrounding gender-based violence.


By comprehensively understanding and confronting these intertwined issues of societal stigma and victim blaming, we can offer better support to survivors. This involves fostering a more empathetic and informed response to gender-based violence, encouraging survivors to come forward and share their experiences without fear of judgement or reprisal. Read more here and here.


Institutional gaslighting and its impact on survivors of gender-based violence

Institutional gaslighting, where organisations undermine or dismiss gender-based violence allegations, has profound impacts on survivors, often leading them to doubt their experiences. Power dynamics play a significant role, with institutions like private schools sometimes denying incidents to protect their reputation. In workplaces, trivialisation of abuse as 'isolated incidents' or victim blaming by police officials further invalidates survivors' experiences. Procedural hurdles in reporting and silencing tactics like threats of retaliation exacerbate survivors' feelings of helplessness. Questions like "Why did not you report sooner?" or doubts about survivors' recollections hinder the pursuit of justice. Read more.


How media sensationalism silence gender-based violence survivors

Media outlets focusing on sensational aspects of gender-based violence stories often neglect the systemic issues, leading to further trauma for survivors and deterring others from coming forward. Sensational headlines and a constant barrage of graphic details can desensitise the public, amplifying harmful stereotypes and victim-blaming narratives. Fears of exploitation, loss of control, and compromised privacy due to sensationalist reporting further discourage survivors from sharing their stories. The media's focus on personal details, speculative analysis, and graphic content shifts the narrative away from the human impact of the violence. Read more.


Silencing survivors in the digital age: Peer pressure and cyberbullying

The digital age has introduced new challenges for survivors, especially younger individuals, who face online harassment and cyberbullying. This can lead to increased isolation, amplified trauma, and deterrence from seeking help or reporting the abuse. Cyberbullying, through ostracisation, ridicule, and public shaming, perpetuates the cycle of abuse and silence, making it crucial to address this growing issue. Read more.


Additional reasons why survivors might not speak up


  1. Fear of retaliation or threats: Many survivors are hesitant to report abuse due to the fear of retaliation from their abuser. This often includes threats of physical harm, further abuse, or other manipulative tactics. For instance, a survivor in a domestic violence situation may remain silent for years out of fear of her partner's threats of harm to her or her family.

  2. Economic dependence: Economic dependence is a major obstacle that often prevents stay-at-home wives and mothers from leaving abusive relationships. These survivors may face significant financial hardships if they choose to leave, as they rely entirely on their abuser for economic support. Without independent income or financial resources, they often fear the inability to provide for themselves and their children. This dependency creates a binding situation where the fear of financial instability outweighs the option of escape.

  3. Lack of trust in the legal system an impunity: Survivors’ reluctance to report abuse can stem from a lack of confidence in the legal system, particularly when it has previously failed to support them or appeared biased. The sense of impunity, where perpetrators are not held accountable, reinforces this mistrust. Seeing abusers escape prosecution or punishment can lead survivors to believe that seeking justice is futile and may expose them to more risks.

  4. Cultural and societal norms: In many cultures, discussing sexual violence is often taboo. Societal norms that value family reputation or honour more than individual well-being can discourage survivors from speaking up. In such communities, a survivor might remain silent to avoid bringing social shame upon her family.

  5. Psychological trauma and shame: The psychological effects of gender-based violence, such as shame, guilt, and self-blame, can be paralysing. Survivors may feel at fault, internalising societal stigmas.

  6. Lack of supportive networks: Without a network of supportive friends, family, or professionals, survivors might find it daunting to speak out. For instance, a young person who has experienced sexual abuse may keep silent if they do not have a supportive family or community.

  7. High levels of poverty: In situations of financial hardship, families might negotiate with the perpetrator, especially in cases of sexual violence. The perpetrator may offer compensation, leading to the silencing of both the family and the survivor. This not only perpetuates the cycle of abuse but also denies the survivor the opportunity for justice and healing.



Empowering Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

To shift the narrative from blame to empowerment in gender-based violence, a holistic approach is essential. Empowerment involves providing emotional support, tangible resources, safe venues for justice, and expression.


  1. Challenge societal and cultural norms: Through education and awareness campaigns, work to dismantle the stigma and isolation associated with gender-based violence, fostering understanding and active support within communities.

  2. Provide comprehensive support services: Offer services including legal aid, medical care, psychosocial support, safe housing, and economic empowerment, all tailored to each survivor's unique needs, ensuring a supportive, respectful, and empowering path to recovery.

  3. Train service providers: Provide specialised, survivor-centric training in trauma-informed care across various sectors to ensure empathetic, knowledgeable, and effective support for survivors.

  4. Create safe spaces: Establish secure and validating environments such as support groups, online forums, and therapy sessions for survivors to share and heal.

  5. Amplify voices: Provide platforms for survivors to be heard, validating their stories, and enabling them to raise awareness and advocate for change.

  6. Ensure accessible and safe reporting: Develop confidential and user-friendly reporting channels, allowing survivors to report violence safely and without fear of retaliation.

  7. Engage men and boys in prevention: Actively involve men and boys in gender-based violence prevention, educating them about healthy relationships, challenging harmful gender norms, and promoting gender equality. Read more here & here

  8. Build movements: Foster collective action and advocacy through sustained community mobilisation, awareness creation, and legislative engagement to end gender-based violence. Support women's organisations with improved financing and operational assistance, ensuring their sustainability and effectiveness in combating gender-based violence. Read more here.


By integrating these strategies, we can empower survivors to break their silence and reclaim their narratives. "Shifting the Narrative: Breaking the Chains of Silence" is dedicated to moving from a culture of blame to one of understanding, support, and empowerment, offering a comprehensive response to gender-based violence.


Concluding Reflections and Call to Action at NITE TANZARN IntellectNest

The silence surrounding survivors of gender-based violence stems from a complex mix of personal, societal, and institutional influences. At NITE TANZARN IntellectNest, we acknowledge the necessity for a varied approach to address these issues. We invite our community to collaborate in establishing environments that encourage survivors to speak out, backed by accessible reporting channels and extensive support services. We appeal to both individuals and organisations to aid in cultivating a culture steeped in understanding and respect, one that actively opposes deep-rooted societal norms. Together, we shall strive for profound and enduring alterations in the discourse on gender-based violence, aspiring towards a future where the voice of every survivor is heard and esteemed.



About the Author

Nite Tanzarn, the visionary founder of NITE TANZARN IntellectNest, stands at the forefront of sustainable transport and gender equality advocacy. Recognised as a leading authority in her field, Nite's expertise extends beyond integrating transport with socio-economic development. She is dedicated to creating inclusive systems that specifically address the challenges and needs of women. Her commitment to gender-responsive policies reaches far beyond the realm of transport, impacting societal issues, especially in developing regions. As an influential speaker and author, Nite combines her extensive knowledge of sustainable transport with a relentless dedication to tackling gender disparities, making her insights invaluable and her impact far-reaching.

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22件のコメント


ゲスト
2023年12月11日

Thank you for this insightful article on gender-based violence. It's commendable how the piece highlights the urgent need to shift societal attitudes from victim-blaming to empowering survivors. The proposed solutions, like engaging men in prevention and providing comprehensive support, are particularly impactful. Btoadening the perspective to include a more global view on GBV could further enrich the discussion. Your call for collective action is a powerful reminder that change is possible when we work together.


いいね!
Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
2023年12月11日
返信先

Hi Tasha,

Thank you for your thoughtful response. Your suggestion to broaden the perspective to a more global view on gender-based violence is indeed valuable and something that could enhance future discussions. Gender-based violence knows no borders and affects people worldwide.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

いいね!

ゲスト
2023年12月10日

How about men? They are also victims.

いいね!
Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
2023年12月10日
返信先

Thank you for bringing up this important aspect in the conversation. You're absolutely right. Men are indeed victims of gender-based violence, and their experiences are often overlooked or silenced in societal discourse. Acknowledging and addressing the impact of gender-based violence on men is crucial for a comprehensive and inclusive approach to tackling this issue. In your opinion, what are some effective ways to include and support male victims in this dialogue and in our efforts to combat gender-based violence?

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

いいね!

ゲスト
2023年12月09日

Great enlightenment, gender related violence is a common phenomenon yet many die with it in silence🤐 it's a liberation script indeed.

いいね!
Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
2023年12月09日
返信先

Thank you for acknowledging the impact of our work. It's true that gender-related violence is a widespread issue, often shrouded in silence. Our aim is to provide a 'liberation script' for those suffering in silence, offering insights and support for empowerment and change. Your words are so touching and reinforce the importance of our mission.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

いいね!

ゲスト
2023年12月09日

Great work for and on behalf of the vulnerable. How I wish this enlightenment could reach out to every woman out there for a better life. Thank you NITE

いいね!
Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
2023年12月09日
返信先

Thank you for your supportive words. Our goal is indeed to spread this enlightenment as far and wide as possible, especially to women who may be vulnerable or unaware of the resources available to them. Every step towards awareness is a step towards empowerment and a better life for those affected by gender-based violence. Your wish resonates with our mission, and together, we can strive to make this reach a reality.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

いいね!

ゲスト
2023年12月08日

You never disappoint.

いいね!
Nite Tanzarn
Nite Tanzarn
2023年12月09日
返信先

Thank you for your kind words. It's heartening to hear that our work consistently meets your expectations. Your continued support and engagement are what drive us to keep delivering meaningful content.

Cheers,

Nite

#NITETANZARNIntellectNest

いいね!
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