This year, Ayrshire College is publishing a series of blog posts to mark the ’16 Days of Action’ – an international call of action to end violence against women and girls.
Today, Lainey McKinley, Student Vice-President, tells her own personal story.
Lainey was instrumental in organising the Reclaim the Night walk this year which saw students, staff and others come together to walk for the safety of women and girls.
You can contact our Student Services teams or organisations like Women’s Aid if you or someone you know requires support.
People can be abusive towards ones they love, to people they care about and are meant to protect.
This is a concept I couldn’t grasp, but one I know all too well to be true.
When we talk about violence against women, we may think of the statistic that 1 in 3 women will suffer abuse at some time in their life. We may even know that 1 in 7 students will experience abuse during their time in education. But how often do we hear from the children who are also very real victims of this abuse?
“Stop, you’re hurting me”, “you’re useless” and “not in front of the kids!” are phrases that were said, or rather shouted or cried, all too often as I was growing up.
Doing midnight flits to somewhere ‘safe’ and being promised that we would never return, then only two days later going back as if it never happened.
Was this love, was this a healthy relationship, was this how men were supposed to treat women? Surely it had to be – why else would you put up with it? I remember thinking ‘I never want to grow up’, the thought was too scary.
As I got older, I realised that actually this was not right, this was not what a relationship was meant to be like. A healthy relationship was about both parties being equal and honouring and respecting each other.
I couldn’t understand why she stayed, why she put herself and us through this torment.
For a long time I blamed her. I blamed her for us not being as free as we should have been as kids, for not giving us the love and attention we needed and deserved.
It wasn’t until I got into a relationship myself that my eyes began to open. I began to hang on every word my partner said and found myself starting to believe everything he said regardless of what it was.
I didn’t like the way this was going and I ended the relationship, but it helped me understand why she stayed and kept going back.
She really believed the lies he was telling her! She believed she was worthless, no good to anyone and needed him to survive. She had been so brainwashed and stripped of self-worth that she didn’t know any different. This truth broke my heart and I knew then that I wanted my voice used to make a difference.
I knew from this time I wanted to help raise awareness around violence against women, I wanted women to really hear and believe ‘you are strong’, ‘you are worthy’ and ‘you are beautiful’ in a time when 1 in 3 women will face abuse of some description. We cannot be silenced, we must unite, create a safe place and platform for our voices to be heard.
So to all the women reading this: you are beautiful and worthy, believe and accept nothing less from anyone.
To the men reading this, build the women in your life up, fill their heads and hearts with truths; truths that they are amazing, beautiful, worthy, intelligent, and strong.
The 16 days of action is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness and for us to stand up and have a voice about a subject that in this day and age is still too silent.