Together in Combating Violence against Women


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 KRUGAVOJVODINA 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 KRUGAVOJVODINA 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 247).

– 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.