The Zonta Says NO to Violence Against Women campaign begins this month. This campaign raises awareness of women’s rights violations and unites Zonta clubs worldwide in conducting impactful advocacy actions to fight violence against women and girls. We decided to take a local focus this year by considering what some neighbors, friends or co workers in our community could be experiencing. People typically think about physical abuse when they hear the word domestic violence. Further, most do not picture middle class or mature adult women. Dr. Dionne Stephens, ZCML zister and Psychology professor at Florida International University, gave this talk that focused on the most common but most overlooked form of abuse- psychological aggression- and the unique factors that put middle class, mature adult women at risk.
Psychological aggression is highly prevalent in intimate relationships, and is not limited to relationships that are physically abusive. Psychologically aggressive acts include behaviors such as ridiculing, verbal threats, isolating women from family and friends, and attempting to control a wife or girlfriend. These acts are intended to degrade and attack a woman's self-worth by making her feel guilty, upset, or inadequate. Dionne discussed how to identify signs and solutions to support friends and co- workers experiencing this form of abuse.
Zister Gunilla Crawford also presented some information and shared information from a familial perspective to round out the discussion.