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Overcoming gender-based violence

Written by Hlengiwe Cele of Workforce Healthcare

Workforce Holdings and our group of companies offers a wide range of leading human capital solutions. Our array of businesses are organised into clusters, and our Healthcare Cluster plays an important part in providing medical staff as well as the mental and physical health of employees across our country.

Within the Healthcare Cluster, Workforce Healthcare is a company for the people, the professionals and clients. They are devoted to making a meaningful and sustainable difference in the health and wellness of employees. Workforce Healthcare’s Hlengiwe Cele would like to impart some important information on Gender Based Violence (GBV).

South Africa is becoming an increasingly unsafe place for women to live in. Statistics SA shows that femicide (the murder of women) is 5 times higher here than the global average. This means that in South Africa, women are 5 times more likely to be killed due to gender-based violence committed by men.

There are many forms of gender-based violence and that includes sexual, physical, emotional and financial violence.

Most acts of interpersonal gender-based violence are committed by men against women, and the man perpetrating the violence is often known by the woman, such as a partner or family member. Domestic violence often includes violence against children.

Gender-based Violence Facts:

  • A total of 2 771 women were murdered in 2018/2019. This means a woman is murdered every three hours.
  • A total of 1 014 children were murdered in 2018/2019.
  • 5 2420 total reported sexual offences in 2018/2019.
  • Between 28 and 37% of adult men report to having raped a woman.
  • Just over 50% of women report to having ever experienced emotional or economic abuse

Are you in the cycle of abuse and don’t know how to stop it?

An abusive relationship has a tension build up where the behaviour of the perpetrator changes dramatically. This results in an explosion. The perpetrator then shows remorse and/or shame after the tension release, thus making it very difficult for the woman to leave. Psychological, emotional and physical abuse then become interwoven into the nature of the relationship. This abuse takes a severe toll on self-esteem. The abused person starts feeling helpless and possibly even hopeless. In addition, most mental abusers are adept at convincing the victim that the abuse is his/her fault. Somehow, the victim is responsible for what happened.

Psychological abuse can look like:

  1. Humiliating or embarrassing the victim
  2. Constant put-downs and hypercriticism
  3. Slapping, biting, hitting behaviour
  4. Unreasonable jealousy and extreme moodiness
  5. Monitoring of behaviour, including reading emails and text messages
  6. Threat of use a weapon against the victim, her children or pets
  7. Dominating behaviour and control
  8. Blaming, shaming and guilting
  9. Isolating from friends and family
  10. Using money to control

Personal Safety with an Abuser:

  1. Create a safe room in your house where there are no weapons and there are ways to escape. If arguments occur, try to move to those areas. Install inside locks on a door or plan barricades for if you need to distance yourself. Old cell phones placed in the safe room can be used to call emergency services. Keep it charged.
  2. Don’t be afraid to call the police.
  3. Create signs with trusted neighbours that you are in danger: leaving the garage door open or a light on.
  4. Teach your children how to get help. Instruct them not to get involved in the violence between you and your partner. Plan a code word to signal to them that they should get help or go to a safe place in their home.
  5. Keep weapons, like guns and knives, locked up and as inaccessible as possible.

Preparing to leave a toxic and abusive relationship

When an individual makes the decision to leave, the danger she is in increases drastically.

These suggestions are important:

  • Connect with a gender violence group (toll-free numbers below)
  • Try have some money saved in an account in your name only.
  • Move personal items and important documents to a safe place (passports, title deeds etc)
  • Make copies of important documents (e.g.: tax returns, bank statements, investment statements, mortgage/loan information, car titles, pay stubs, etc)
  • You can simply snap a picture of these documents with your phone and email it to a friend.
  • Open a new bank account, a new emailing address, and if necessary a new P.O Box address
  • Get legal advice if possible
  • Keep any evidence of physical abuse, such as pictures, etc., in a safe place that is accessible for you
  • Request a police escort while you leave

Emergency numbers you should have on speed dial:

10111 – Nationwide Emergency Response
112 – Cell phone emergency (Will transfer you to an emergency service closest to you)
10177 – Ambulance response
0800 428 428 or *120*7867# (free) – Gender-based violence command centre

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