On November 25, International Day for Elimination of Violence against Women, the iFit company organized two free-of-charge fitness sessions and a lecture open to general public on identifying and prevention of gender-based violence and supporting women experiencing it. The lecturer at the Šmek Fitness Center was Ivana Zelić, Coordinator of the SOS Service of the … IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA organization.
– Though violence against women is an ever more talked-about topic, especially in November, realistically speaking people do not know enough about this subject, while the relevant data about it are scarce – said Dunja Funduk, Brand Manager of the Šmek Fitness Center. – Violence is often not perceived as such. This is why it is important to offer people tools to identify violent behavior. A huge number of women exercise in our center. So, why wouldn’t we offer some answers to them? Listening to their needs, we often organize a series of info and educational lectures concerning fitness and training planning, healthy nutrition, physical and mental health in general. This is the first time that we have organized a lecture on violence against women and I believe that tonight’s event will inspire a series of activities concerning this topic.
Tell us more about tonight’s trainings. Where is the intersection between fitness and prevention of violence against women?
DF: – Šmek Fitness Center focuses on advancing health in its broadest sense, as well as on promotion of healthy lifestyles. A part of this context most certainly is violence prevention, just like socially responsible activity in general. Whilst planning tonight’s event, we were thinking whether to offer body combat – a training inspired by martial arts – but it is a worn-out topic, in the sense that once you are in a situation to defend yourself, you are already neck deep in violence. The focus needs to be on its identification and prevention. What is it we could do to prevent it from happening in the first place? Tonight we will have two completely different trainings, their combination illustrating the scope of training possibilities in our center. Body balance is a body-mind training, a fusion of pilates, yoga and tai-chi for stretching, relaxation and meditation. In a word, for spiritual empowerment. The other is body attack, a high intensity cardio training inspired by athletic movements: running, jumping, squats and pushups.
What is up ahead? What will be your next feature activities?
DF: – We will have an open doors day in Šmek from 8–11 December, when all trainings will be open to anyone, members of our Center or not.
During a sixty-minute lecture, Ivana Zelić presented the work of …IZ KRUGA – VOJVODINA organization, pointing to the forms of violence and prejudice concerning women in situations of violence, explained the differences between a conflict and violence, pointed out the complexity of such a situation and listed available support mechanisms.
Statistics indicate that 91% women and children cf. 9% of men have experienced violence.
Violence (domestic, partnership or in any other context) is not a private matter, but a criminal act. Despite the first association to the word violence usually being an image of a beaten-up and bruised woman, psychological violence is its most frequent form. Invisible and difficult to prove, psychological violence has severe consequences on a woman’s self-confidence and psyche due to being subject to controlling, offensive, humiliating, blackmailing behavior and jealousy… Economic violence often means prohibition to find employment (because it is better for a woman to take care about the family and children), making her dependent on her abuser and her potential leaving the violent relationship much more troublesome. Sexual violence has been a taboo for quite a while now, with first association to it being masked maniacs harassing women in dark alleys. It is a common fact that women experience sexual harassment mostly from men they know: ex-partners, co-workers, acquaintances, husband (because marital rape is his God-given right). Other forms of violence are stalking (in physical or virtual space), isolation (deprivation of social contacts), neglect (typically experienced by women with disabilities).
The key motivators of violence are control and power, instead of equality, which should be a base of any healthy relationship.
The most common misconceptions concerning violence:
– It is happening to some other women, those undereducated, poor and old.
- A high percentage of highly educated women live in violent partnerships. They are silent about it fearing that talking about their experience with violence might damage their reputation, career, position at work. The more educated a woman is, the higher the degree of shame she feels due to the situation she is in.
– Women like bullies. They have chosen them themselves. It is their choice to stay with them.
- They have chosen love, safety, being together… If violence floats to the surface from that package, women remain in the relationship because they believe the situation will change (for violence does not last 24⁄7).
– It is just a slap on the face. He’s had a bad day, it just happened…
Once violence happens, it will happen again. No excuse can fix it and love will not change it.
– Violence perpetrators are mentally ill or alcoholics.
- Only 7% of violence perpetrators have a psychiatric diagnosis, whereas 93% choose violence fully aware of what they are doing. Many alcoholics are not violent (on the contrary), while many violence perpetrators do not abuse alcohol.