In light of International Women’s Day, and Zero Discrimination Day, it is important to consider the issues of discrimination, violence, and bullying that women continue to face.
This includes women of all ethnicities, genders, sexualities, and abilities. Though, it is worth noting that women in each of these social groups experience discrimination, bullying violence to different degrees. Of course, people of other genders, including men, experience these challenges too, but it is important to use March as an opportunity to shed light on the unique experiences of women.
How women experience gendered violence
Gendered violence can manifest as sexual assault. Women are the most vulnerable victims to sexual violence, and this is especially true for trans women, and women of colour. In fact, a woman’s experience of sexual violence is so common that one in two women will experience it in their lifetime. Other forms of gendered violence against women can be emotional, physical and financial. One in four women will experience these forms of violence in their lifetime, most commonly from their intimate partner. This also means that women are more likely to fall victim to domestic violence and abuse, and are more likely to find themselves controlled and manipulated by their male partners or family members.
Gendered violence is very relevant to domestic abuse. A misconception of domestic abuse is that it limited to experiencing acts of physical violence. However, domestic violence is fundamentally a loss of autonomy and independence, as a result of another person imposing power or control onto the victim. Seventy-five percent of victims of domestic violence are women, and one in six women have experienced physical or sexual violence by her current, or former partner. Domestic abuse can manifest as a woman losing autonomy over her finances, being restricted from choosing and seeing her friends and family, being stalked, shamed, yelled at, or humiliated by her partner, facing constant threats from her partner, or being forced and/or pressured into unwanted sexual behaviours. This interpersonal dynamic is dangerous to the victim, as she loses her autonomy and may feel like she is always walking on eggshells to avoid triggering her abuser and research shows, may be a precursor to physical violence.
Domestic violence puts women in a position of extreme vulnerability, where they may lose their finances, belongings, social networks, children, freedom to choose, independence, and identity. The mental health consequences for women who experience domestic violence are grave, and often result in trauma responses, anxiety, depression, poor self-esteem, suicidality, trust and attachment issues, and overwhelm.
How women experience workplace bullying and discrimination
Workplace bullying is another common issue that can affect people of all genders and sexes, but more often occurs for women. Workplace bullying is an intentional, inappropriate, and repeated behaviour against an employee that puts their physical and/or psychological safety at risk. Workplace bullying can look like the use of inappropriate language, rumour spreading, exclusion, teasing, intimidation, unreasonable employee demands, and refusing a person’s leave.
Women are much more likely to experience workplace discrimination, which can put their career stability at risk. Women in managerial environments often face the “Glass Ceiling Effect”: an invisible barrier that most women face when trying to climb up their organisational ladder. This may be partially explained by the fact that women are more likely to be underestimated at work. They are much more likely to be talked over, interrupted, dismissed, and granted less responsibility than their male counterparts. Women working in male-dominated industries experience such discrimination and bullying to a higher level, as they have courageously stepped into an environment that devalues women. It is not uncommon that victims of this sort of workplace violence are forced to either put up with high levels of prejudice, or sacrifice their professional life to protect their mental health.
The consequences of gendered violence, bullying, and discrimination
The consequences that women face as a result of gendered violence are severe, and varied. These include, but are not limited to:
- Inability to work
- Loss of wages and financial independence
- Withdrawal from regular activities
- Limited ability to care for themselves and their children
- Unwanted pregnancies, STIs, pelvic injury, vaginal bleeding (from sexual violence)
- PTSD, trauma, sleep disturbances, depression, anxiety, poor self-esteem, homelessness
At Mindful Psychology, we provide support to women who have, or are currently experiencing any form of domestic violence. If you are struggling and would like to speak to a professional, we welcome you to make an enquiry with us. You can call us on 07 3391 5833, or email email@example.com
There are also a range of services that can provide support to you in the meantime, including:
- White Ribbon Australia: 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1800 799 7233
- Brisbane Domestic Violence Services: 07 3217 2544
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
- BeyondBlue: 1300 224 636