Angelina Jolie Shares Advice for Women Who Fear Abuse Over the Holidays

During an interview with Harper's Bazaar U.K., Angelina Jolie spoke about the United Nations' 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

By Elyse Dupre Dec 07, 2020 8:53 PMTags
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Angelina Jolie is supporting survivors of violence.

In a new interview with Harper's Bazaar U.K., the 45-year-old actress spoke about the United Nations' 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence campaign.

According to UN Women, the campaign "is used as an organizing strategy by individuals, institutions and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls." As part of the UNiTE by 2030 to End Violence Against Women initiative, the campaign aims to help raise awareness, galvanize advocacy efforts and share knowledge and innovation.

In April, UN Women reported that 243 million women and girls (aged 15 to 49) around the world had been subjected to sexual or physical violence by an intimate partner in the previous 12 months. It also cited data showing that "since the outbreak of COVID-19, violence against women and girls (VAWG), and particularly domestic violence, has intensified."

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During the interview, Jolie, who was appointed Special Envoy of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees in 2012, was asked to share a piece of advice for women who fear they will suffer more abuse during the holiday season.

"Talk to someone. Try to find allies," she told the publication. "Be connected for emergencies. For example, you can agree [sic] a code word with a friend or family member, which tells them if you are facing an emergency. Begin to build a network and gain knowledge. 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. 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."

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She also provided guidance on how to support a loved one or a child if you think they might be experiencing abuse. "If it has even crossed your mind that someone you know might be vulnerable in this way, try to stay close and present in their lives," the Oscar winner said. "Make it clear that you are there for them. Another thing we can all do is educate ourselves. Learn about domestic violence. Learn how trauma affects our health and can lead to biological changes, particularly in children. Take these issues seriously."

In addition, she said it's important to "take it seriously and stand by them" when helping a colleague or a friend who is suffering abuse. "Listen to them. Don't judge them," Jolie added. "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."

Jolie has addressed the topic of violence against women and girls before, including in a piece she penned for TIME back in October.

"Even before the pandemic, which has led to a shocking rise in domestic violence, more than three women a day on average were murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in America," she wrote. "Globally, an estimated one in every three women faced being beaten, raped or otherwise abused during her lifetime, with in most cases, the abuser being a member of her own family. There were over three times as many female victims of intentional homicide in 2017 worldwide than victims of terrorism—and over half of them were murdered by a family member."

The mother of six also gave a speech during the second International Conference on Action with Women and Peace in Seoul in November.

"The truth is a woman's life does not rank equally with a man's far more universally than we are willing to acknowledge," Jolie said. "Conflict-related sexual violence is a manifestation of this reality. It seems we believe in rights for women and girls only to a point. In our daily lives, to the point that it might force us to see something we don't wish to see and have to act upon it. In politics, to the point that it doesn't compete with vested interests. In our foreign policy, to the point that it doesn't conflict with business and trade. At the security council, to the point that a P5 member chooses to cast a veto to shield an ally no matter how bloody their hands. And in settling conflicts, the rights of women and girls matter to the point that we can declare success and move on."

She then added, "It is this caring to a point that means that gender equality is still at least a century away, that domestic violence has grown sharply worse during the pandemic and that the number of people displaced by conflict and persecution—over half of them women and children—has doubled in a decade."