In the UK, 36% of women report that they have experienced psychological abuse, 16% have been subject to financial abuse and over half (59%) confided that they wouldn’t know where to go to seek help. These are just some of the findings from research commissioned by The Avon Foundation For Women, which draws attention to the unspoken and non-physical forms of violence that can devastate women’s lives. Coinciding with the UN’s 16 Days Of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (which will run from 25 November), the foundation surveyed 14,400 women from 15 countries to better understand what forms non-violent abuse can take, and how well women are supported in response to this.
More than half of the women surveyed reported that they, or someone close to them, had been a victim of abuse. As well as sexual and physical violence, this includes digital harassment, coercive control, cat-calling and emotional abuse. Globally, the research found that 82% of women consider whistling, shouting and sexual comments to constitute abuse. In Italy, only 88% of women think that pressuring a woman to have sex constitutes abuse and, in the Philippines, 38% believed it was a wife’s duty to give her partner sex when he wants it. Heartbreakingly, of the women asked globally, only 59% trusted that their legal system would treat psychological abuse as a crime and make efforts to protect them.
Off the back of this research, Avon has established the #EmbraceTheChange campaign, which will launch on 25 November. The brand will be donating £1 to Refuge and Women’s Aid for every share of the campaign across all social-media channels, which includes a powerful video interview from a woman named Gemma. In it, she speaks openly about the impact escaping a coercive relationship has had on her life.
Alongside the social-media campaign, the brand will partner with local women's charities across the UK to raise awareness of controlling behaviour and provide information on where to get support.
Abuse takes many forms (emotional, verbal, digital, physical, psychological, financial) and it’s an issue that needs as much attention and activity around it as possible, in order to effect real change. Initiatives like this from Avon are vital for making sure that happens.
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