Recognizing the context in which interpersonal and power-based violence occur is crucial to providing support to a survivor. Though each incident and each survivor are unique, they exist in a shared cultural context that connects them.
All acts on the spectrum of violence are a result of one person attempting to exert power and control over another person. This display of power and control is demonstrated in many of our daily interactions, contributing to their perceived normalcy. It is evidenced in seemingly innocuous comments on gender presentation, harassment experienced on the street, and sexist jokes.
A willingness to interrupt these behaviors challenges a systemic cultural narrative of inequity and violence. Understanding all these attitudes and behaviors as connected is integral to both preventing future incidents of violence and supporting survivors.
By supporting survivors we validate their experience and send a message to the community that these behaviors are unacceptable, creating less and less room for them to occur―and hopefully, changing our culture.
What can I do?
What implicit biases do we hold that contribute to oppressive structures and systems?
What attitudes about gender, sex, and ethnicity do we exhibit in our everyday language and behavior that are harmful or prejudice?
What if we are not the ones saying or doing something harmful, but our silence contributes to someone else feeling hurt, dismissed, or oppressed?
What do we internalize from messages in the media and other cultural representations and how do they influence tolerance of violence, oppression, and harm?