Together Against GBV

By Bethany Corrigan, Senior Technical Advisor, GBV, PSI

Are there any Harry Potter fans out there? Remember, when Severus Snape said the Dark Arts are a many-headed monster? He described that, in battling such a beast, you must be prepared for anything. Each time a neck is severed, another head sprouts in its place. As Snape cautions, “You are fighting that which is unfixed and mutating…”

Sound daunting? Well, if you can empathize with this metaphor, you’re one step closer to understanding what it’s like to tackle gender-based violence (GBV). Much like the many-headed beast, GBV is complicated, “many and varied.” It often operates in secret where it’s hard to reach. Every time we think we find a way to victory, a new challenge pops up.

Did you know that an estimated 1 in 3 women will experience some form of GBV in her lifetime – a majority from an intimate partner? I say estimated because GBV isn’t as easy to identify and document as malaria, or tuberculosis, or even HIV. GBV is underreported because survivors may face greater violence for speaking out.

Did you know GBV is associated with, poverty, substance abuse, unintended pregnancy, reproductive health risks and STI transmission? Women who experience GBV are at a 1.5 times greater risk for HIV transmission.

October isn’t just for Harry Potter-themed Halloween parties and costumes, it’s also Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) – a time to speak out and talk with one another openly about these issues and what we can do about them. So in the spirit of DVAM… how can we address GBV, this multi-sector global threat to health and wellbeing? The same way we would fight a multi-headed monster; bring it into the light and work with others whose skills complement ours to battle the heads from every angle.

PSI is committed to putting beneficiaries at the center of programs. Working in GBV is no different. It’s our responsibility to understand the context where survivors work and live. To assess their challenges, risks and needs.

We work to bring the risks and effects of GBV into the light by learning from, sharing knowledge, and collaborating, with partner organizations, governments and communities. PSI’s expertise is in recognizing healthcare providers as community leaders and in building the sensitivity and capacity of the healthcare workforce to raise community awareness  and safely identify survivors and connect them to services. To address survivors’ other needs, we collaborate with partners who have expertise in other fields. By strengthening linkage and referral networks and leveraging resources, we ensure that GBV survivors are connected to support across sectors beyond healthcare (such as legal, economic, educational, and psychosocial support).

This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I encourage you to find a monster-head that you’re best suited to tackle. Maybe it’s learning, raising awareness or volunteering at a shelter. Just remember, no one can beat the monster alone, but there is hope when we fight together.

Banner photo: © Population Services International / Banner Photo by: Zoeann Murphy