Domestic violence affects many women in South Africa.
The Citizen reports that at least three women die at the hands of their partners every day.
Domestic violence isn’t always something we can foresee. Often, a partner can become violent after marriage or after dating for a good few months. And by then, the victim of abuse have already formed a bond and possibly a life with their partner, making it difficult to leave.
If you have a female friend who is in an abusive relationship, you may feel helpless. And in many cases, you will be. But don’t let this stop you from reaching out to the victim because they might not reach out to you first. Before you can help, look out for these common signs that show when a woman is being abused by their partner:
- She has bruises on her body that she cannot account for, or seem to hesitate to answer when you ask about the injuries.
- Her partner openly insults her in front of people.
- She has become distant and no longer spends time with close friends and family.
- She tries to avoid conflict and is scared of making her partner angry.
- Her partner is jealous and possessive.
Here’s how you can help:
She may have distanced herself from her family, so she probably feels entirely alone. Always let her know she can talk to you. She may not open up to you immediately, but showing her that you support her can go a long way. She may not decide to leave immediately, so it’s essential that you continue to support her until she gains enough courage and strength to end the relationship.
Do not be judgemental
The last thing she needs to hear is you saying, “just leave him already!” Instead, change the tone by saying, “I’m concerned about your well-being, and I would love to help you.” Let her know that you are afraid of what could happen to her as well as her overall emotional well-being.
Let them know it’s not their fault
Many women feel alone and afraid of leaving. And if they have children, they may think that it’s more difficult to leave. There are plenty of organisations that help women and children who flee from abusive relationships. Get them in touch with an organisation like POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse) that provides shelter services for women and their children who are victims of gender-based violence. POWA provides counselling and support groups which are facilitated by a social worker to help victims overcome their fear and trauma.
It’s important for women to stand together and #EndDomesticSilence against domestic violence. You might just save a life!