The last Sabbath of August will see busy streets and crowded auditoriums in eight South American countries. The actions of the Breaking the Silence campaign take place on the 27th, bringing guidance for prevention and ways to overcome psychological violence.
Surveys conducted by different health and safety agencies show that psychological violence is the most recurrent type of abuse, preceding, in many cases, other forms of aggression. It is present in homes and academic and work environments, in the form of insults, blackmail, and threats. Because it is not a physical act, this type of aggression is still very much veiled and underreported to the security agencies. However, it is recognized as a crime in several countries, given its potential harm to the victim.
In Brazil, law 14.188/2021 criminalizes psychological violence against women. According to Article 147-B, it is a crime to engage in any act that causes "emotional damage to a woman that harms her and disturbs her full development, or that aims to degrade or control her actions, behaviors, beliefs, and decisions, through threats, embarrassment, humiliation, manipulation, isolation, blackmail, ridicule, limitation of the right to come and go, or any other means that cause damage to her psychological health and self-determination.”
Drawing on this same concept, the Breaking the Silence campaign extends its actions to combat psychological violence, not only against women but any vulnerable individual, such as children and the elderly.
Breaking the Silence is promoted annually by the Seventh-day Adventist Church and aims to help combat and prevent various types of addiction and abuse. This year, the theme of psychological violence was chosen to guide the campaign's actions, which take place on August 27 in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, and Uruguay and extend throughout the year.
Several activities are being prepared for the occasion. Rallies and marches will draw attention to the theme in the streets, while lectures will be held in churches, schools, and auditoriums. At these events, orientation materials will also be distributed, such as pamphlets and magazines, printed in versions for children, teenagers, and adults. These materials are produced in Portuguese and Spanish and available in digital format on the campaign's official website, quebrandoosilencio.org. There are also other support materials, such as videos, promotional art, and podcasts, as well as all the information about the project.
In addition, many Adventist churches are organizing solidarity actions such as health fairs with free care to the population, visits to nursing homes and orphanages, and donations of supplies to needy families. A partnership with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) will also offer basic courses in entrepreneurship for women, as financial dependence is what keeps many of them in abusive relationships.
For Jeanete Lima, the campaign's coordinator in South America, addressing the issue will certainly open the eyes of many people to identify psychological violence and seek ways to overcome it. "This is our role as the church; this is the role of the Christian religion. The Bible directs us in Isaiah 1:17: 'Learn to do good; Seek justice, rebuke the oppressor.’ Yes, we are our brothers' keepers," she emphasizes.
Created in 2002, Breaking the Silence completes 20 years of accomplishing its purpose. On the website, quebrandoosilencio.org, there are stories of people who have been impacted by the initiative over these two decades. And speaking of that impact, several states and provinces in various countries have included a date in their official calendars to highlight the campaign, in recognition of its relevance and social contribution.