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Angelina Jolie offers support, advice to women fearing abuse during the holidays

/ 12:09 PM December 16, 2020
angelina jolie

Angelina Jolie at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Jan. 31, 2018 (Image: AFP/Emmanuel Dunand via AFP Relaxnews)

Angelina Jolie had words of advice and support for women who fear they will suffer more abuse during the holidays.

The Oscar winner, who is also special envoy to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, believes that domestic and gender-based violence are not taken seriously enough, as per an exclusive interview with Harper’s Bazaar on Dec. 7.

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“Women are vulnerable because societies are unequal. Women and children suffer disproportionately as a result of war or economic crisis…,” Jolie said in the report. “We don’t take domestic or gender-based violence seriously enough anywhere, and we often overlook the trauma and injury suffered by children who witness or experience violence, in their own homes.”

Jolie supported the UN’s 16 Days of Activism campaign, an initiative against gender-based violence that lasted from Nov. 25 to Dec. 10. According to UN Women, violence against women intensified as lockdown measures were put in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports of domestic violence also went down since the health crisis has made it more difficult for survivors to get help and support.

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According to Jolie, what one can do to help a friend or co-worker suffering from abuse is to “take it seriously and stand by them.”

Listen to them. Don’t judge them. Try to understand the huge emotional, financial and legal pressures they are likely facing, including the pressure to stay silent about what has happened to them. And be aware that they may well be suffering trauma and PTSD,” she said.

Educating oneself about domestic violence is also key, especially when it comes to supporting others who may be experiencing abuse.

“Make it clear that you are there for them. Another thing we can all do is educate ourselves. Learn about domestic violence,” said Jolie. “Learn how trauma affects our health and can lead to biological changes, particularly in children. Take these issues seriously.”

She also advised women who fear they will suffer more abuse during the holidays to reach out to someone and find allies, so they can be connected during emergencies. This can include coming up with a code word with a relative or friend to signal to them they are in an emergency situation.

“It’s sad to say, but you can’t assume all friends and family will always want to believe and support you. Often it will be strangers who help. Or other victims, support groups, or faith groups,” she said. “Above all, be careful. Only you really know the danger you are in, and until you find your support outside, you may feel quite alone.” Cody Cepeda /ra

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TAGS: activism, Angelina Jolie, gender-based violence, UNHCR, Women’s Rights
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