By Shanique Mullings
The Gender-based Violence workshop was truly amazing. Before coming to this workshop I always thought that Gender-based violence was an act of physical violence against someone of the opposite sex, but here I learned that it isn’t only an act of physical violence it’s much broader than that. First you have to think about what gender is and how it is defined. We also learned that gender is created and defined for us from the day we are born. We are labelled as either male or female, which does not give our parents or us the choice whether or not we want to identify as a female or male. Then we defined violence, which is any form of pain, fear or harassment. There were so many definitions we came up with when trying to define violence because there are so many different forms, like financial, which is taking someone’s money to control them or spiritual which is keeping someone from their spiritual practices to control them. Then we had to define power and state who has that power and when they have this power, how do they use it to control another person or group of people.
The engagement and the discussions were the best part for me because I got the opportunity to hear what other people thought gender was, what violence was and what power was. I learnt the signs of being in a violent relationship and to know that someone was being abused in different ways. It’s shocking how someone right beside you in the subway or the bus can be getting abused and you don’t even know because there aren’t any physical signs. There was so much I learned. Learning about my rights and knowing that if you are being abused you are not alone and it is never your fault. No matter what your abuser might say or how they may make you feel you are not to be blamed for something you didn’t ask for.
Gathering all this information in this workshop was very good for the field which I am going into. I will come across youth and children who face Gender-based Violence. I might have a family member who is going through it and knowing the signs and how help him/her is very good because no one in this world should be belittled no matter where they come from, how they look, or what they choose to do in their lives. No one should think that they have the ‘power’ to control and abuse people because they think they can. Just speaking about it makes me infuriated.
I need a little more information so I know exactly where I can go or send someone who needs the right support. For instance where the woman’s shelter in the area is or how can I help someone who is in denial face reality and know that they don’t deserve how they are being treated. Being well-informed will not only be for my benefit but I’ll be able to help whoever needs it and in the end I’ll feel a sense of accomplishment.
I felt lucky to be a part of such a wonderful workshop and experienced so much from some great people learning more than I already knew and being able to go out and share.