Violence is any act, word or situation that affects a person’s sense of security or integrity, or their ability to be who they are or do what they want for themselves.
Feeling safe: what does it mean?
Feeling safe first comes from the sense of personal safety, that depends on various life experiences. One’s environment plays a key role in feeling secure. Thus, family, co-workers, friends, as well as difficult past experiences will influence one’s feeling of personal security. Such feelings can be experienced on the street, in our relationships, with intimate partners, our friends, our family, at work, at the grocery store, in hospitals, when we’re looking for an apartment, etc.
The sense of personal safety means feeling that one can exist without fear.
In addition, a safe environment is where people have the freedom to be themselves. A good way to recognize a safe environment is to identify how you feel in this environment. If a person feels equal to others, respected in their values and protected in their fundamental human rights, this may be a safe space for them. These places can be at home, at work, in a community center, in a café, with family members (biological or chosen), etc.
Here are some examples of situation that can make a person feel unsafe:
- The partner of a trans person threatening to disclose their identity to co-workers
- Having to justify all expenses to a caregiving family member
- Being forced to marry
- Feeling unsafe about using public toilets as a non-binary person
- Being forced or compelled by a friend to look at sexually explicit images
These examples illustrate different instances of violence. It is important to remember that all situations of violence are significant.
Feeling unsafe effects your integrity, and that is violence.
What forms can violence take?
- Psychological or Verbal: Attitude or behavior that aims to control others or denigrate others in their value as people.
- Physical: Physical contact with a person or an object in a way that causes fear or suffering.
- Sexual: Words, attitudes or behaviors of a sexual nature done without the consent of the person to whom they are directed.
- Cyber violence: Use of digital media (e.g. internet, social networks) to hurt, control or denigrate others.
- Negligence or Elder abuse: Absence or significant lack of response to the needs of a dependent.
- Religious or spiritual abuse: Words, attitudes, or behaviors that discriminates a person based on their beliefs or identity.
- Money-related abuse: To take control of the income or expenses of others.
- Society systems-related abuse: Discrimination orchestrated by social institutions (e.g. health system, justice system).
Finally, it is important to mention that it can be difficult to admit that one experiences or has experienced violence. Violence may come in many forms and it can be insidious, hidden, justified, camouflaged in love, friendship, and all other emotions that are difficult to understand and process. For Alix, all experiences of violence are important. Alix is here to review, support and take action to help all people who have experienced any form of violence.