How to stop violence against women and children

 Stop gender-based violenceDon’t suffer in silence. If you are being abused by anyone, you must get help. (Image: Macnolete, Flickr)

Do you think you are being abused? Do you suspect a friend or child you know is being abused? Are you an abuser? With the launch today of 16 Days of Activism for No Violence against Women and Children, this fact sheet gives advice on how to spot abuse, and how to stop it.

Jump to:

How do I know I am being abused?
What do I do if I am being abused?
What are the signs that my friend is being abused?
How do I help an abused friend?
How do I help an abused child?
Who do I call if I or someone I know is being abused?
How can I stop abusing my partner or child?
Who can I call to help me stop my abusive behaviour?

 

How do I know I am being abused?

There are two main ways you can tell if you are being abused:

1. If someone always says things to you that make you feel uncomfortable or bad about yourself, things you find offensive, hurtful or insulting, then that is verbal, psychological and emotional abuse. The abuser may also ridicule, name‐call, intimidate, harass or stalk you.

2. If someone touches you in a way that is undignified, scary or harmful – hitting you, forcing you to have sex, pulling your hair or grabbing or smacking you – then that is physical abuse. The abuser may also damage your property or enter your home without asking your permission.

Nobody has the right to hit, push, shove, shake, kick, slap or punch you.

If they loved you, they wouldn’t harm you. If they respected you, they wouldn’t insult you and say horrible things to you.

 

What do I do if I am being abused?

Don’t suffer in silence. If you are being physically, emotionally or sexually abused by anyone, you must get help.
Talk to someone you can trust. Confide in a friend, a neighbour, a relative, a teacher, a spiritual leader or elder, a doctor, or a counsellor.
It is not your fault. There is no excuse for abuse. None. You do not have to put up with it.
You can get help. Physical and emotional abuse are both against the law, and there are many organisations offering help to victims.
• Contact People Opposing Woman Abuse (Powa) on 011 642 4345 or 011 642 43456 or email itumeleng@powa.co.za. Powa can help with counselling, offers shelter from your abuser, and legal support.
• You can use the legal system to help you. Go to the Domestic Violence Court closest to you and apply for a protection order.
• Lay a criminal charge – for rape, physical assault or sexual assault – against the abuser.

 

What are the signs that my friend is being abused?

• Unexplained bruises or marks on their face or body, broken bones or sprains.
• Excessive guilt or shame for no reason.
• Secrecy or withdrawal from friends and family.
• Avoidance of school or social events with excuses that don’t make any sense.

 

How do I help an abused friend?

Listen. A person who is being abused needs someone to hear and believe them.
It is not their fault. Help your friend understand that it is not their fault. Your friend is not the bad person. The person who is being abusive has a problem and needs help.
Encourage them to seek help. Your friend also needs your encouragement to get help immediately from an adult, such as a parent, family member, or counsellor. Contact People Opposing Woman Abuse (Powa) on 011 642 4345 or 011 642 4345.
Rape victims need immediate help. If your friend has been raped, encourage and help them to go to a hospital within 72 hours for treatment. Medical staff will help collect evidence for the police, and conduct a test for HIV. The hospital may start them on a short course of antiretroviral medicine that can reduce the chances of getting HIV. The hospital should also report the matter to the police.

 

How do I help an abused child?

• Talk to them gently.
• Don’t interrogate. Let the child explain to you in their own words what happened.
• Tell them they are not in trouble, and that you will keep them safe.
• Tell them that you do believe them.
• Call Childline on 08 000 55 555 and report the case anonymously.
• Contact your nearest social worker and report the case.

 

Who do I call if I or someone I know is being abused?

People Opposing Woman Abuse: 011 642 4345 or 011 642 4346
Childline: 08 000 55 555
• Gender-based Violence Helpline: 0800 428 428 or *120*7867 from any cell phone
• SAPS Crime Stop: 08600 10111
• Aids Helpline: 0800 012 322 / 011 725 6710

 

How can I stop abusing my partner or child?

• Acknowledge that what you are doing is wrong.
• Stop rationalising your abuse of other people as acceptable.
• Abuse is never healthy or acceptable, regardless of anything you may have been told or seen in the past.
• If alcohol makes you more likely to be violent or otherwise abusive, stop or reduce your drinking.
• Don’t use alcohol and drugs to deal with your problems.
• Actively find ways to deal with your stress and anger. See a psychologist, social worker or counsellor.
• Always walk away from confrontation until you have calmed down.
• Use a counsellor, family, friends, neighbours, spiritual and community leaders to mediate disputes with your partner.
• Seek the professional help of a psychologist, social worker or counsellor.

 

Who can I call to help me stop my abusive behaviour?

• Gender-based Violence Helpline: 0800 428 428 or *120*7867 from any cell phone
• Stop Gender-based Violence Helpline: 0800 003 081
• Suicide Helpline: 0800 567 567

 

Violence against women and children is never acceptable, never excusable, never tolerable.