'We don’t take domestic or gender-based violence seriously enough anywhere,' Jolie says.
Angelina Jolie is reaching out to victims of domestic violence. During an interview with Harper's Bazaar UK in support of the UN's 16 Days of Activism campaign, the 45-year-old actress offers advice to women who are fearful they may suffer abuse this holiday season, which comes amid renewed quarantining due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Talk to someone. Try to find allies. Be connected for emergencies," Jolie suggests. "For example, you can agree [to] 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," she continues. "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."
Jolie also shares words of wisdom for people that suspect a friend or family member may be suffering 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. Make it clear that you are there for them," she says. "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."
Jolie notes that taking all claims of abuse seriously, by listening without judgment, is another important component.
"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," she says. "And be aware that they may well be suffering trauma and PTSD."
Jolie says her advocacy for women is so strong because she "can’t stand to see the immense and enduring suffering so many women face, and how little accountability there is."
"I see the same patterns repeated globally. Women are vulnerable because societies are unequal. Women and children suffer disproportionately as a result of war or economic crisis. They make up two thirds of all refugees and displaced people, and they are hardest hit by the effects of climate change," she explains. "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."
Watch the video below for more on Jolie.