Happily Never After Leslie Steiner does not look like your typical domestic violence survivor. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English, and a prestigious job in marketing. She has been married for almost 20 years to her second husband and they have three kids together. Leslie’s secret was that she had the gun loaded with hollow-point bullets pointed at her head by the man who she was assured was her prince. Her first husband - the man she loved threatened to kill her on a daily basis.
Thus, the first message to take from the said story is that violence is not exclusive to a specific group of people and it happens to everyone. The second message is that you are mistaken in thinking that Leslie was exceptional and alone in this occurrence because the truth is that only one in three women report physical or sexual abuse in the countries of European Union only.
As reported by the Director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, violence against women is one of the least reported crimes. Only 14% of women reported their most serious incident of partner violence to the police, while a similar percentage (13%) reported their most serious incident of non-partner violence. Surprisingly, the worst part of the whole issue is not the percentages, but rather the fact that the only reason we are able to access all this information is because the surveys were anonymous. The issue that is disturbing to the very bone of every human being is still regarded as shameful and jarring, especially to the victims. The lack of comprehensive data makes it difficult for the Member States and research institutions to tackle the problem, since most women do not report violence and do not feel encouraged to do so by supposedly supportive governments. Thus, the official criminal justice data only keep records of those few cases that are reported resulting in a lack of comprehensive evidence which is vital in addressing the violence against women. While some Member States and research institutions have undertaken surveys and other research on the issue, there’s no existing structure for comparable data. Having said that the majority of victims are scared of sharing the horrors of violence against women, fortunately there are still women like Leslie, who are able to end their affair with tragedy by breaking silence and helping others do likewise.
Every human has the power to end the violence simply by shining a spotlight on it. Victims should not be ashamed for what they went through. In passive “Mary was battered by George” - we shift our focus in one sentence from George to Mary, and you can see that George is very close to the end of the sentence, close enough to drop off the map of our psychic plain. Instead, we should state “George battered Mary”. A very straightforward basic English sentence that delivers the message with the exact emphasis it should be made with. The easy exercise mentioned above shows the core of the problem - the way we are used to perceiving gender-related violence. Many choose the bystander approach thinking that all the legal amendments will be enough protect women from violence. As a result, we create a peer culture climate where the abusive behavior is considered as a private business of the couple rather than a crime against the well-being of the society.