Ask the women and girls you know if they’ve ever felt threatened, harassed, controlled or coerced, and the answer’s likely to be yes.
Whether being leered at on public transport, groped in a bar or sent unwanted naked photos online, women and girls’ experience of abuse is all too common. And it has consequences for everyone – women, men, families, communities and society as a whole.
Whether a one-off incident or a prolonged experience, abuse can harm people’s physical and mental health. The impact of abuse can vary between people and some may be more vulnerable to abuse than others. For some, abuse may have long-term consequences for their lives. Here are just a few examples.
- Women and girls who feel constantly under threat can experience a range of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, flashbacks, nightmares and low self-esteem.
- Abuse can reduce women and girls’ freedom to participate equally in society, for example being unable to walk along the street at night without having to worry about being harassed, or preventing them fully participating in school life and damaging their education.
- Women who experience domestic abuse may lose their home if they have to leave for their own safety.
If you’ve suffered abuse, there is support to help you.Support for you
The safety, wellbeing and prosperity of women and girls is everyone’s business.
When abuse towards women and girls goes unchecked, it becomes normalised. If the people who carry out this behaviour think it’s normal or even acceptable, the abuse can escalate. Women may go on to suffer even more serious violence and trauma.
That’s why acts that some people see as ‘trivial’ or ‘harmless fun’ need to be challenged. By standing against all forms of abuse, and by holding perpetrators accountable, we can create a society where women and girls are equal, respected and safe.
Find out how even small acts of support can make a big difference.How to intervene safely
People who commit abuse have to take responsibility for their actions.
They may have complex issues that need to be addressed and there are support services that can help people to change their behaviour.
There are also legal consequences. Many abusive behaviours are a criminal offence, which can lead to a fine, a prison sentence and/or being made subject to notification requirements (put on the ‘sex offenders register’). This can lead to long-term consequences for them, their families and their livelihoods.
Worried about your behaviour? It’s not too late to change.Change for the better
I’ve been harassed so many times, I now do things like putting my hair up a certain way, holding my keys between my fingers, walking a certain distance away from men, just to make myself feel safe.*
*Testimonials are anonymous to protect identities, but all are based on real experiences.