Every action, no matter how big or small, can make a difference. 16 days of Activism against abuse: The global campaign of 16 Days of Activism focuses on ending gender violence and abuse against children.

We, as women, men, girls, boys and individuals of all generations, religions, occupations, sexual orientations, abilities, political persuasions and socio-economic backgrounds, all have a responsibility to end gender-based violence – together.Each commitment – be it a personal pledge to speak out, a local or national law, an international convention or resolution – should be seen as a promise that has been made to women and children. NOW is the time to act on these promises.

Yogic/Spiritual & Care Focus Taking a position on climate change: Our intention regarding the Care Focus is not about supporting a position, but rather to use our heart-focused intention for the highest outcome for the conference. It is important to send heart-coherent care anytime world leaders gather to address sensitive global issues. This is especially true for issues that cause fear and contention among countries, such as climate change or abuse. The general policy is not to use our sites as a platform for exploring the right or wrong of people’s views or taking sides. However, we respect and support issue-discussion websites especially in these times of global change.

We feel that heart-coherent care, love and compassion can help lift and transform field environments and make it easier for people to navigate through change in these challenging times. Our purpose is to help lift the field environment regarding both the Parliament of Religions conference and the UN Climate Conference and interpersonal/family relationships.

Education makes all the difference. Let’s start by educating ourselves.

The best weapon against abuse is education. By understanding what abuse is, knowing what signs to look for, and having a basic ability to offer help and support, we empower ourselves to be effective in combating this form of mistreatment and violence against those around us.
What is abuse?
Put very simply, abuse occurs when one person tries to control another, forces them to do something, or prevents them from doing something they want to, by using fear, violence, or bullying.
While physical abuse is the most common and easily identifiable form of abuse, there are many other ways in which a person can suffer abuse.
• Physical abuse:
Includes hitting, slapping, punching, pushing, kicking or threatening with a weapon. Grabbing someone so hard that it leaves marks or bruises can be classified as abuse; as can refusing to help someone who is obviously in need of assistance.
• Verbal, mental or emotional abuse:
This form of abuse can include swearing, threatening, belittling, insulting, undermining, or making the other person feel worthless through whatever means. Within a relationship, emotional abuse can also involve withholding love or affection from your partner. Ignoring your partner, being overly jealous or falsely accusing them of infidelity are all forms of abuse.
• Financial or material abuse:
Among other things, this form of abuse can involve taking or spending another person’s money, preventing a partner from getting a job or earning an income, destroying some else’s possessions, or refusing to disclose information about a joint financial situation.
• Sexual abuse:
In a relationship, this can involve witholding or negating the rights of your partner in terms of their sexual choices or decisions. It can also involve forcing your partner or someone else to engage in sexual activities against their will.
Whatever form it takes, abuse is essentially the misuse of power and control and is abhorrent in any situation or society.
See the signs
While not every abused person will show the same signs or symptoms, there are some clear signals to watch out for.
Signs of possible abuse in adults or children
• Frequent or repetitive physical injuries with poor explanations.
• Avoiding going home or reluctant to do so.
• Excessive privacy about personal life.
• Excessive nervousness, jumpiness or fear.
• Low self-esteem.
• Refusal to socialise.
• Inappropriate clothing such as dark glasses whilst indoors, or hats, scarves, polonecks and long sleeves, especially in warm weather.
Behavioural indicators of possible sexual abuse in children
• Unusual interest in, or absolute avoidance of, all things of a sexual nature.
• Sleep problems or nightmares.
• Depression or withdrawal from friends or family.
• Age-inappropriate seductiveness.
• Statements that their bodies are dirty or damaged.
• Refusal to go to school, delinquency.
• Being overly secretive.
• Aspects of sexual molestation in drawings, games, fantasies.
• Severe behaviour changes.
Obviously, it doesn’t help to become paranoid, and none of these signs or behaviours by themselves indicates definite abuse. However, if you notice many of them in a child or adult you know, there is a chance that the person is being abused and it is worth spending a little time to see if assistance is needed.
How you can help
If someone you know is a victim of abuse, there are a number of ways you can help:
• Educate yourself – being well informed is the first step in being effective
• Listen – don’t force the issue, but make it known to the person that you are there for them and ready to listen. Then, simply listen to them.
• Let them make their own decisions – don’t try to rescue the person. Ask them what you can do to help and then respect their decisions and requests.
• Encourage them to speak out – abuse can isolate you. Let the person know that they are not alone and that there are people they can confide in.
• Focus on their strengths – an abused person is often at their lowest in terms of self-esteem. Let them know that you value them and recognise their strengths and talents.
• Help them develop a safety plan – encourage them to think about what steps they can take if the threat of abuse looms again. Then help them plan how they will take those steps.
• Be there – never promise anything and then fail to deliver. If you have said you will always be there for the person, make sure you are always there for them.
• Don’t take matters into your own hands – Confronting the abuser is dangerous and naïve. Not only will you risk your own well-being, but you could put the person you’re trying to help at even greater risk. If you’re asked to intervene, approach the correct authorities.

Where to go for help or advice:
• Stop Women Abuse National toll-free line: 0800 150 150
• Life Line National Crisis Line: 0861 322 322
• People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA): 011 642 4345
• Childline: 0800 055 555
Now is the time to Act Against Abuse
Take up the challenge and support the 16 Days of Activism campaign.With Care,

Global Coherence Initiative Steering Committee

South Africa: 16 days of Activism (Nedbank initiative)

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