I've got a female friend I've known all my life who's just been through gender violence and I still can’t believe it. We've got preconceptions about the sort of people who can end up in a situation like that and I’d never have imagined that she, a woman who was always strong and free, could have been subjected to all that, fearing for her life and scared to go outside. From my point of view, she wasn’t just put through physical, verbal and psychological violence from a man with drink problems. My friend has held onto and continues to hold on to certain memories that justify everything.
Even since her partner went on trial, was found guilty and received a prison sentence, she often feels guilty about reporting him to the police and remembers the happy times they had together. Two or three memories that manage to erase the pain both she and her family and friends felt when we answered her cry for help, and which cause her misgivings about keeping the restraining order against her ex-partner, because she would like to go back to him and forget about everything. And that makes my hair stand on end because these feelings don’t go away after the trial or sentence, and are the ones that really kept and continue to keep her in submission when she still tells us that he “was the man of her life” while she grieves for the man who nearly killed her.
The role of friends throughout the process was to be sincere and to be there for her; we listened to her, we gave her advice, and we brought a balance between painful empathy and continuous rage, while she went through all the stages, from reporting her partner to the police, to sessions with the counsellor, the trial and the sentence. And we know that, it is now, more than ever, that we have to keep on supporting her, because there aren't any obvious processes forcing her to adopt a firm position.
Has a woman close to you been suffering from gender violence? How did you help her, what was your role?
If one of your neighbours, friends or colleagues at work has been suffering from gender violence, send us your testimony explaining your role. What did you do to support her? What feelings and challenges did you experience? Do you think it was worth it? How did she react?
Send your testimony along with your name (or alias), age and the district you live in:
Many thanks. Your experience may certainly help others to stand up to gender violence.