In 2013, UN Women launched a series of ads, using genuine Google searches dated March 9 to reveal the widespread prevalence of sexism and discrimination against women. The ads expose negative sentiments ranging from stereotyping as well as outright denia
CAIRO - 28 November 2017: “From every wound there is a scar, and every scar tells a story. A story that says, ‘I survived’.” – Craig Scott
Body stamped with rainbow coloured bruises, dislocated shoulders, broken bones, battered souls, muted screams, silent cries, shattered voice and endless feelings of sorrow…
Since the beginning of time, women were considered unequal to men. They were viewed as slaves; properties. As a result, some men came to believe they have the right to control, manipulate, use and discipline them, in any way they see fit, including the use of violence.
“It’s difficult and almost impossible to explain what it feels like to be treated like a piece of property, a useless object that is only created to satisfy the sexual desires of a man.” -Domestic violence survivor
Domestic violence is one of the most eminent forms of injustice and humiliation against women, which happens under the roof of their, supposedly, safe haven. When it happens, women feel powerless, imprisoned with no route to escape. They watch their fairy tales collapse, as their homes become the source of their agony unhappiness.
“Everytime he raised his hands on her, he killed a prince from a fairy-tale somewhere deep within her heart, brutally.” -AkshayVasu
Domestic violence is defined by the UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty.”
Domestic violence cuts deep into the heart like a sharp dagger. The wounds turn into everlasting scars, both physical and emotional. The cycle of violence may start with verbal abuse, simple threats and rare outbursts. Warning signs that are initially perceived as false alarms would soon escalate faster than the brain can grasp what is really happening; and that is when the emotional struggles begin.
“I was in such as state of shock that I didn’t even sense the pain throbbing in my head where he pulled a chunk of hair out.”-Domestic violence survivor
The initial reaction to domestic violence is shock. Many questions wander in the victim’s mind. How did that happen? What went wrong? Is he really the person I married? What should I do now? The victim senses that her fairy tale is not moving into the direction of a happy ending. She feels lost, depressed and traumatised.
“I was in a complete daze, drugged, sick to my stomach, full of shame and hurt and pain. He did everything to beat me down until I felt worthless.”-Domestic violence survivor
After the initial shock subsides, the victim enters in a stage of denial and guilt. She blames herself, accepts the societal belief that it is her fault and that she might have deserved the punishment.
“I found myself giving excuses to why I deserved the punishment.”
She overwhelms herself with memories of the old days; the happy times. She deludes herself that the incident was a one-time blunder and that her husband is indeed a good man who is in desperate need for her love and care.
“I believed I could love the abuse out of him.”
As the situation progresses and the abuse worsen, she realises that she is incapable of curing him. She feels trapped and fears for her life.
“I was trapped. I felt like his property. I was literally just his punching bag.”
Sooner or later, she sees the light and decides to terminate the marriage, but often finds herself chained by family, society and her husband’s restrictions.
Some husbands even threat their wives if they dare to leave. Blinded by the desire to possess and hurt, husbands forget the love they once shared with their wives. She is his property and he’s allowed to do whatever he wishes to her. Husbands turn to living monsters…
“He warned me that if I told anyone or left him, he would hunt me down. He was going to shoot me. He was going to paralyze me. He was going to throw acid on my face. He was going to slit my throat.”-A domestic violence survivor
A woman’s desire to terminate a marriage is not only rejected by her husband and family, but also subjects her to societal constraints on divorced woman.
Middle Eastern households, who are mainly conservative, often put a lot of emphasis on honour and family pride, which a divorce of a female member would scratch. Family homes are no longer a safe refuge for women seeking shelter from their abusive husbands.
For how much longer are we going to watch in silence as the number of domestic violence victims soars? For how much longer do women have to accept this degradation by both females and males? How much longer do we have to endure the suffering and withstand duct tapes over our mouths? Hopefully not for too long.
And for every woman who suffered from or is still suffering from domestic violence, YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
To report domestic violence, call these numbers: 01126977333, 01126977222 or 01126977444.
This article is a contribution by Menna Doubal from the Women of Egypt online platform, which aims to empower Egyptian women by brining into focus their issues and reviving the memory of the Egyptian suffragette movement.
This article is part of Egypt Today’s campaign “Break the Silence ... Say No to Violence” marking the 16-Day campaign of activism against gender-based violence GBV from November 25 to December 10.