Sexual and domestic violence, stalking, and violence against women are pervasive and costly issues in Massachusetts, across the country, and around the world. While we’ve made progress over the past few decades in reducing the incidents of this violence, there’s much work to be done to promote healthy communities and healthy relationships. We can all be part of the solution. The first step is to learn more about the issues.
In addition to the definitions, facts and statistics, it’s important to understand that domestic violence and sexual assault occur because of cultural and social factors that foster and support these and other forms of violence.
Sexual and domestic violence and stalking are symptoms of a deeper problem: the oppression of people by virtue of their gender, race, economic class, ethnicity, sexuality, gender identity, religion or other characteristic. People often identify with more than one of these attributes. For instance a woman of color could face discrimination and oppression both because she is a woman and because she is not white. When thinking about a survivor's experience of sexual or domestic violence, it's important to keep in mind that multiple oppressions could be occuring and overlapping at the same time.
What does this mean? The occurrence of this violence doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Yes, it’s about an individual’s exertion of power and control over another person using sex and violence as the weapon. But it’s also about the way that these forms of violence are used as strategies of power and control of one group over another as a way to reinforce the status quo. The clearest example is how rape is used as a weapon in war. In much the same way, sexual and domestic violence reinforces gender roles in our society. As such, sexual assault, rape, battering, and human trafficking are in fact human rights violations.
Ever heard the phrase “moving upstream?” In social justice lingo it means getting to the root of the problem and addressing its causes, so as to stop the problem from continuing to flow. The theory goes that unless we look upstream, our attention will remain focused only on reacting to and addressing the problem after the fact.
As a statewide membership organization, dedicated to preventing and abolishing sexual violence, domestic violence, and stalking, Jane Doe Inc. (JDI) firmly believes that unless we understand and operate in this context, we will be stuck downstream, forever providing support for those who have already experienced violence while not ending the violence.
It begins by listening to the experiences of survivors. (Read their stories.)
Ready to learn more about the issues?
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
When an estimated one of every three women in the world will be beaten, raped or otherwise abused during her lifetime, the safety of all women and the stability of their families and communities are put at risk. Violence against women creates obstacles to efforts for peace and gender equality in the United States and around the world. Read more on Violence Against Women…
Sexual violence occurs any time a person is forced, coerced, and/or manipulated into any unwanted sexual activity. It violates a person’s sense of safety, trust and autonomy. Read more on Sexual Violence…
Domestic violence encompasses a wide range of behaviors where one person is abusing power and exerting power over the other person in a relationship or toward an intimate family member. Read more on Domestic Violence…
In their lifetime, 1 out of every 12 women and 1 out of every 45 men will be the victim of unwanted verbal, visual, or physical contact that communicates a threat or places them in fear. Read more on Stalking…