Most women experience some form of sexual violence as part of their daily reality. Even if this does not take the extreme form of rape, beatings and murder, there is the ever-present threat of assault implicit in the sexual comments and gestures in the streets and at work. The media, advertising and the wide-spread circulation of sexist literature and pornography create a climate that encourages sexual violence and harassment by objectifying women.
Violence against women can take many forms, physical and sexual, financial, verbal and psychological/emotional. Physical violence includes not only actual assaults but also the threat of violence which limits women's actions and behaviour. Sexual abuse can include humiliating or degrading comments or jokes, unwanted touching or fondling, through to demands for sex, rape and causing injury during sex. Financial abuse can involve male breadwinners not giving their female partners enough money for food, health and housing or the threat of financial insecurity which is used to keep women trapped in violent situations.
Women who have been full time carers and out of the work force for a long period of time may face unemployment or employment with low pay, 'it is uncommon for women to maintain their material standard of living after leaving a marriage or de facto relationship.' (Study Guide, p64). Verbal abuse includes 'put-downs, derogatory comments, persistent claims that a woman is incompetent, unattractive, inferior etc. Verbal abuse also consists of actual threats of assault.' (Study Guide, p65). Psychological/emotional abuse often comes from prolonged verbal abuse which destroy women's self-esteem but can also include the prolonged threat of violence and social isolation (Study Guide p62-65, DVAG 1989, 15-16)
Violence against women is not just carried out by individual males against individual women. The State not only condones violations against the rights of women it perpetuates them.