Since 1981, the United States has acknowledged October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, yet domestic and gender violence are still some of the largest unsolved social issues of our time. Twenty-five percent of women will face domestic violence in their lifetime and twenty percent of women will fall victim to other forms of gender violence, such as sexual abuse and rape. If you take the time to do some math, twenty percent of the female population of America is approximately thirty-one million, according to our most recent census. That means at least thirty-one million women are affected by some form of gender violence in their lifetime. Still, with so many females marred by these horrific crimes, these issues are rarely discussed. It seems so straight forward it’s silly, but in reality we don’t talk about these things. Only 40% of rapes are ever reported.
Breaking this habit of silence and talking about these issues is the first step in dismantling a society that universally condones gender violence. It’s not easy, but it is necessary for survivors and supporters (both male and female!) to step up and fight these issues.
So how do we find the right routes for our voices to take? How can we be heard? I think we should pick up on what the writers of the anthology Women Write Resistance: Poets Resist Gender Violence are putting down. Over 100 women American poets challenge the current narrative on gender violence and use their experiences to help bring to light the issues that many other women face but let their fear and shame choke their voices. The synopsis of the book states that, “The critical introduction frames the intellectual work behind the building of the anthology by describing how poets break silence, disrupt narratives, and use strategic anger to resist for change. Poetry of resistance distinguishes itself by a persuasive rhetoric that asks readers to act.” Do you see what can be achieved by doing this?
They are writing about their experiences and using poetry as a platform for social change. They are not just sharing their experiences, but challenging us to change our lives so that these experiences will never be repeated. They know that they do not just speak for themselves but for the thirty-one million women in America who have or will experience some form of gender violence—whether it be domestic or otherwise.
In an overwhelmingly busy world, sometimes we forget that our words are powerful. We can use our writing as a platform to let the world know that gender violence is unacceptable, and we are done staying quiet. So pick up a pen, and challenge our current world. Change our narrative. Speak loudly and, if you are afraid, remember those who cannot lend their voice. Together with our words we can do anything.