Why doesn’t she just leave?

It’s the question many people ask when they learn that a woman is suffering domestic abuse.

A victim's reasons for staying are complex. They fear that the abuser will follow through with the threats they have used to keep them trapped. It is hard to walk away from a relationship that has kept you isolated, psychologically beaten down, financially controlled, and physically threatened.

MPLL’s 24-hour crisis management service provides emotional, financial, and legal support, should an Indwe client be affected by crime, even before any insurance claims are submitted.

Domestic Violence (DV) is a “silent crime” which takes place behind locked doors, with both the abuser and the victim hiding any evidence of the abuse. DV is not a personal or private matter, it is a crime, with far reaching consequences. By being aware of the subtle warning signs and offering support, you can possibly help someone escape an abusive situation.

Here are some ways in which you could support a friend who is a victim of domestic abuse:

1. Listen - always easier said than done (pun intended).

Timing is always important, as is respect. Let them know why you are concerned for their safety or wellbeing and that you are always available, and always in confidence.

Make the time to listen, without judgement and without giving advice. Many victims do not come forward in fear of escalating the situation or not being believed. It might be hard to hear the details, so be brave and be worthy of their trust.

2. Ask how you can help.

If someone shares an abusive situation with you, make sure you ask how you can help.

The most important thing is their safety. While they may be feeling confused, uncertain, frightened, and torn, remind them that:

  • They are not to blame for being battered or mistreated.
  • They are not the cause of your partner’s abusive behaviour.
  • They deserve to be treated with respect.
  • They (and their children) deserve a safe and happy life.
  • They are not alone. There are people waiting to help.

3. Give unconditional support

Often victims are conflicted on what to do or what steps to take. It is important that you follow their pace. Your role is a supporting one, it is not the role of jumping in and saving them.

It takes an enormous amount of courage to leave an abusive relationship and doing so can feel impossible without support. Support might be required from a legal, emotional, or physical point of view or just someone who cares. At the end of the article are a couple of resources that can provide support to victims of domestic abuse.

4. Make it alright to talk about domestic violence.

We must do better; we must make it OK to talk about domestic violence. Victimisation is real. The abuse is real. It happens in homes across the world. Domestic violence does not discriminate.

You can make it easier for survivors to talk about domestic violence by sharing posts like this one on social and speaking more openly on the topic. It is important to encourage more women and men to come forward and seek the validation, support, and help they need.

“No matter how bad a situation can seem at the time, there is always hope.”

Visit https://mypersonallifeline.co.za/DomesticViolence.html for more information on the crime assist product that includes domestic violence assistance and legal insurance.

Resources available to victims of domestic abuse and gender-based violence.

National Shelter Movement South Africa

https://www.nsmsa.org.za/

Contact NSM’s 24-hour toll-free Shelter Helpline, 0800 001 005 which is the first national helpline exclusively dedicated to helping victims of domestic abuse access shelter services in each of the nine provinces.

0800 001 005

People Opposed to Woman Abuse (POWA)

https://www.powa.co.za

POWA provides counselling, both over the phone and in person, temporary shelter for a legal help to women who have experienced violence.

Tears Foundation

http://www.tears.co.za/

Tears Foundation provides access to crisis intervention, advocacy, counselling, and prevention education services for those impacted by domestic violence, sexual assault, and child sexual abuse.

Contact your local police station SAPS emergency line

https://www.saps.gov.za/domestic_violence_eng.pdf/

10111 SAPS
Stop Crime 08600 10111
Stop Gender Violence emergency line 0800 150 150
Childline 0800 055 555
SAPS Unit for Domestic Violence, Child Violence and Sexual Transgressions, Head Office, Pretoria 012 393 2184
Visible Policing: Gender-based Violence and Victim Empowerment 012 421 8000