30% of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of violence by their partner…
… 2 weeks after getting married Alice’s husband began telling her that she was worth nothing, no one else would ever want her, and she was lucky that he had decided to marry her. Alice finally decided to leave, 20 years later, when her husband got angry and put his fist through the wall, missing her head by inches.
38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner…
… Ellen did not have dinner ready when her husband came home one night. He went to the shed, retrieved an axe, entered the home, and proceeded to assault his wife with the axe putting her in the hospital with multiple injuries. Years later, when Ellen’s husband was released from jail, Ellen took him back into her home to continue their life together.
Statistics or stories.
Which has a greater impact? Which makes the situation of Gender Based Violence feel more real to those who are not directly involved?
What if all of the numbers being collected, compiled, and shared, are not only, not the answer, to ending Gender Based Violence, but are part of the problem?
Numbers make things less messy, more sterile, something to read, then nod your head, perhaps making a “tsking” sound before moving on with your day. Or, even worse, numbers can be something that are misunderstood or used to minimize a problem:
“30% of women, well that is less than half of all women, so should we really be throwing more money at this problem?”
“Stats show that the number hasn’t been increasing over the years, so it isn’t a growing problem”
One of the most impactful events in the past year on Gender Based Violence awareness was not a new percentage of people affected, it was Ray Rice punching his girlfriend in the head on camera.
From Statistics to Stories
What if, instead of using calculated numbers, the fight against Gender Based Violence focused more on telling stories?
Instead of a sterile stat spoken in a news clip, 365 personal stories were collected from women about their personal experience with Gender Based Violence, and one of these stories was spoken (and witnessed) on the news every night?
What if, instead of compiling a stat like 30% of women, actual real time numbers were tracked to provide a clearer story? A website or phone number that abused women could visit or call and quickly register that they were just abused, creating an ongoing tally of how serious this problem is.
30% is a stat, knowing that on Monday 10,000 women had reported being abused, but by Tuesday 11,250 women had been abused helps numbers tell a story that people can better understand and take action on.
What if, we stop letting the numbers distance us from the problem and start to live these experiences with the women suffering on a day to day basis?
Could a focus on stories instead of statistics make a big difference in the goal of eliminating Gender Based Violence?