What do you think of when somebody says they are being abused? Many would first think about bruises and physical abuse, but not all abuse is physical! Emotional and verbal abuse can be just as devastating, but tends to be subtle and difficult to define. This type of abuse can be insidious and almost elusive, as many cannot pinpoint the exact problem.
“Not all wounds are visible”
Who is affected by emotional abuse? This destructive type of behaviour can occur in any type of relationship.
- Between a parent and a child
- In any kind of friendship
- With other relatives
- Emotional and verbal abuse can also be found in the workplace or at school
The effects of emotional abuse can make another person doubt themselves and others, and slowly break down a person’s self-worth or self-esteem. Whoever came up with the saying ‘sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ was obviously in denial. Emotional and verbal abuse, if not dealt with correctly, can leave the person being abused with severe emotional pain and even long term psychological scars. The person being abused can develop severe anxiety and depression.
The main purpose of emotional abuse is to try and control and also to dominate another person. In many of the cases the abuser has not dealt with their own childhood traumas and may have been abused themselves. By not dealing with the issue in a constructive way and learning how to build positive relationships, the person can easily harbour resentment and anger. This person then goes out into society and displays the exact same behaviour to others.
Emotional abuse can lead to physical abuse, but not always. Although emotional and verbal abuse always seem to accompany physical abuse. Some of the signs of emotional abuse include:
- Controlling behaviour – Always asking where you are going and who you are with. The abuser will try to isolate and control everything. Displays unreasonable jealous tendencies towards friends and colleagues.
- Being manipulative and cruelly using emotional blackmail to get their way.
- Meting out punishment that is undeserved
- Emotional outburst that are unpredictable
- Those who are abusive may have unrealistic expectations – for example demanding all your time to be with them.
- Behaviour and speech that is derogative. Calling you stupid, swearing at you and undermining your thoughts and values, is derisive towards your appearance and insults your intelligence.
- Continuously accusing you of lying and casts the blame of their behaviour onto you.
- Deliberately withholding love or any type of communication and support
- Continuous use of hurtful jokes or sarcastic remarks
- In many cases overbearing and unwelcome teasing can also be seen as abusive
The first step towards any type of healing, is to recognize there is an actual problem. Some who have been in an abusive relationship for a length of time may think the problem is with them, but it’s not, stop blaming yourself. Sometimes it may be necessary to leave the abusive relationship, but if this is not the case then there must be some boundaries set. Let the person know that you will no longer participate in conversations that are meant to hurt and criticize.
You cannot change an abusive person and the choices they make, but you can control your response to them. In certain cases professional help may be needed to improve the relationship. The most important thing is not to isolate yourself and to make sure that you have a support network in place. It could be a friend, another family member, pastor or even a counsellor, but stop being silent.
The abuse cannot go on forever, eventually the stress will cause illnesses such as depression and anxiety. Remember to put your own needs first and that you no longer need to please and protect the abuser. They no longer have control or power over you.
5 Must Know signs of Emotional Abuse:
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Domestic violence is not something that only affects a certain group of people. Let’s have a look at a man and a woman in an abusive relationship, the consequences do only just affect these two people. This is especially true if children are involved, as this problem can then extend into the next generation, and so the cycle carries on. But the problem doesn’t just stay within the family or relationships involved, the issue can also have an effect on the economy.
Suné Payne wrote an article on the matter for the Daily Maverick, explaining that billions of South African Rands goes towards costs involving violence or abuse against children. The article also explains how those children who have been abused are more likely to go into the world and earn a lot less than those that have not been abused. You can read more about this article here.
Domestic Abuse can be seen as a major public health issue, as it affects millions of people in the country. This is a problem that can affect a person’s entire life. Problems that arise can include things like physical injuries that need medical care, the use of thousands of rands towards health-care costs, the reduction of work productivity and in severe cases the death of the victim.
Some more consequences or risk factors of Domestic Abuse
- Poor physical and mental health, a child can develop anxiety and depression that can have long-term effects.
- The child who grows up around abuse may fall out of school and have a lack in education
- This can then lead to poverty
- The child could also develop a substance abuse, which in turn can lead to even more problems with money.
- Some may develop a shopping addiction, which helps them escape from bad memories. Sometimes spending more than they earn and ultimately leading to debt and a bad credit history.
- The problem can be so severe that eventually it may lead to criminal behaviour, violence and incarceration.
- Being abused or witnessing abuse can affect your future relationships
Domestic Violence can also be a problem for those who have a job. Many victims may be distracted at work, fear harassment at the workplace by the abusive partner, all of this can lead to a decline in productivity and an inability to find and keep a stable job. In fact any childhood trauma can have a future impact on finances.
How can trauma or domestic abuse lead to financial issues?
- All of the negative emotions and abuse can lead to a lack of ambition
- Many with severe stress disorders cannot plan or think far into the future
- Sometimes abuse in the household can also include manipulation concerning money. The abuser can offer ‘treats’ as a way of gaining the victims silence.
- This gives the victim a wrong viewpoint in the use of money and power, and can thus have an affect on their future financial dealings.
A large majority of domestic violence is against women and children. Many of these women and children could be successful contributors to the economy, but because of a lack in education, poverty, culture, and other problems, many of these women and children are exposed to violence, homelessness and severe health issues. All of these issues lead to survivors of abuse earning less or even nothing at all.
Unfortunately there are limited resources available and many of the organisations involved do not receive any government funding. To be able to implement a strategy for prevention of abuse, means that there must be more organised community programmes, and things like more social workers in the schools. The schools themselves can provide more education on the matter, and can provide a safe environment for those who need help. Communities need to support each other more, to stand together on such issues as Domestic Violence. To not keep silent about the problem.
Take action by making a donation today or by volunteering.
Youth Day is all about recognizing the youth in our society and why it is important to remember our children and how they are affected by our decisions. Think of the way that the protests held on the 16 June had an effect on future generations. The event brought to light the bravery and conviction of those students. In a broader aspect, Youth Day also represents the children of the world. Children we should be nurturing and protecting, but still there are many out there that experience abuse every day.
This special day should be a reminder, that the youth are our future and that they have the chance to make changes for the better in our world, and need to be protected and guided in the right direction. Children learn from their environments and from the people who take care of them. Those who are nurtured and grow in a loving environment, should become healthy members of society. Those who are exposed to abuse and unstable environments will suffer long-term effects, both with their emotional and physical health.
Each person and child manages stress differently; there are certain factors that can contribute to how a child responds. The child’s age can influence their response to bad situations, how often has the abuse being going on, how severe the abuse is, amongst other factors. Even if the child is a bystander to abuse, there are going to be negative effects.
Children also learn behaviour from their parents, a boy witnessing abuse towards his mother, learns to be violent against women. There has to be a break or a turning point in the cycle of abuse.
Here are a few long-term effects of abuse:
- Problems with communication
- Suffering from depression and anxiety and even suicidal behaviour
- Trouble with school work, which can affect their chances of gaining entrance into a higher educational facility.
- May turn to alcohol and drugs or suffer from eating disorders
- Children who have been abused or witnesses abuse, are more likely to end up in an abusive relationships.
- Long-term physical health problems
This is where women’s crisis shelters play an important and pivotal role in the community. The shelters provide much needed assistance both for the abused and their children.
Benefits of shelters:
- Shelters provide a safe and secure environment
- Child protection is offered
- Emotional and physical support
- Many offer a number of services from support groups, counselling, and legal assistance
- Some even help the victims find employment and schooling options for the kids
Women who are being abused may feel that there is nowhere safe to go, and many times they are not self-sufficient and therefore feel trapped in their situation. Having a crisis shelter within the community provides a way out, a place to go where they can be safe. Especially if there is a child involved.
All shelters require donations to be able to provide all of these services. This is where the community should be standing together with these types of organisations. This is especially in the case for children, as they are usually the silent victims and need somebody to stand up for them. Many of the shelters can then implement support programmes where children are encouraged to develop healthy relationships and to overcome the negative results of abuse. The mother’s and children can both look to a future filled with hope and opportunities.
Without adequate funding, the services offered to these vulnerable children and women are limited. Many of the women rely on shelters for their safety as well as for basic needs like food and toiletries. So let’s remember the children and those who need somebody to stand with them in times of great need.
We have some exciting news and projects on the go here at Safe House.
Focus on Entrepreneurial Skills
The Safe House has begun to focus on teaching the women useful business and entrepreneurial skills. This will create jobs for them, promote sustainability and increase revenue streams.
The aim of this project is to train women from disadvantaged communities in business skills.
Come and support our initiatives!
The women will make products at the shelter that will be sold at Blaauwklippen Family Market.
We will also do a cooked breakfast at our monthly breakfast garden in the Toy Museum gardens.
More fundraising drives
In October, we will have a golf day, CEO, Alice Wilton have more information about our golf day soon, so stay in touch.
The Safe House is committed to the upliftment of the women living in the shelter and firmly believes that by cultivating a culture of entrepreneurship among women, it can help empower them to generate their own revenue and become meaningful contributors to the economy.
Would you like to make a contribution? We are always happy to have volunteers come upskill our residents.
Or click here to make a donation.
Gender Based Violence or GBV, why does it happen and why is it on the rise in South Africa? Some research from the SA Medical Research Council shows that a staggering 40% of men commit some form of violence against their partners. What’s even worse is that on average, three women are killed every day by their partners in this country.
How can this be happening and why don’t the authorities and government take more action? But first let’s look at what GBV involves.
Gender Based Violence can be
- Structural: within society
In most cases the violence is committed by men against women and in many instances the perpetrator is a husband, partner or family member. The beliefs of gender roles in society differ from place to place, but predominantly throughout the world and in South Africa there exists a Patriarchal structure. Men dominate and are seen as superior, and women cannot function within society as they should. This type of thinking in communities allows men to perform acts of violence without having to worry about consequences.
There also seems to be a lethargic response to this issue, there doesn’t seem to be any improvement only an increase in the violence. Even going to the police does not seem to bring about any action. It seems that one in every 20 women that have been killed already had a protection order out against their abuser. It has been found that the problem is; many of the women are not taken seriously when reporting their issue to the police.
On the other hand, in many instances the police cannot be blamed as the complainant drops the charges. The reason being, the women who made the complaint has reconciled with the suspect and offers no further aid to the police in the matter. Even though there have been laws put in place over the years to help stop Gender Based Violence, it seems to remain an accepted way of life in South Africa.
“A house where a woman is unsafe is not a home.” – Women, Liberia
1 in 5 means you know someone…even if you think you don’t
One in five women in South Africa has been a victim to violence, according to the Demographic and Health Survey in 2016. The most prominent form of GBV in South Africa seems to be Sexual Violence. This was gathered by taking information from police reports over the years from 2012 through to 2015. The information provided shows numbers that are consistent over the four years, meaning there has been no improvement in the matter.
This doesn’t take into account those who don’t report a crime. Sexual violence is associated with feelings of guilt and shame and having to tell someone like an authority figure, is extremely difficult. It is even worse when you find out that reported rapes are not likely to go to trial, in fact even less than 4% goes to trial. Fiona Nicholson, a gender rights activist, mentions that only 1 in 9 rape cases are actually reported.
How does one tackle such an ingrained issue in society? In the Survey done by ‘Stats SA Victims of crime for 2016 and 2017’, it shows that 68% of men agree that women should have the same rights as men. But what of the other 32%, who believe they have more rights over women? Maybe by understanding the social conditions in South Africa, such as substance abuse, unemployment and the deeply rooted patriarchal attitudes ingrained into our society, can we possibly make an improvement?
Women need to tell their stories and share their experiences, because women seldom speak out about the issue. Some may express themselves by portraying men in general as ‘#MenAreTrash’. This may alienate those 68% of men who may become offended by this statement. The only way to defeat Gender Violence is to fight it together. Men have a big role in the struggle against Gender Violence. Men can speak strongly to other men about their behaviour towards women, they can be a big help in breaking the stereotypes other men have about women.
There has to be some intervention on all levels if the problem of Gender Violence is to stop. It should come from a Government level to within the communities. Schools need to have awareness programmes and whole communities need to be involved. This is a long term commitment; it has taken years to develop and will take time to change. But if everybody can be made aware of the issue, the more we educate the South African People, the more we can start making changes to stop the violence!
What can you do to help?
Support Safe Houses such as ours with your time, skills or money.
Contact us: email@example.com
Mary* had nowhere to go. At seven months pregnant and with a toddler in hand, she needed to get away from her abusive environment. Mary had a difficult life and there were a multitude of factors that led her to the Safe House. She had been emotionally abused by her mother and sisters. An external social worker reached out to Safe House and asked for a place for the expectant mother and two year old.
Once settled in the Safe House she started therapy sessions. She got the VEP program therapy of Restoration and Healing, as well as Attachment Therapy together with her “the mother” and her child. To rebuild the trust and relationship, in order for attachment to grow.
Mary had to face many personal challenges, but trust was her biggest issue. Also: basic administration duties like registering your child after birth…we work on these challenges on a daily basis.
“I have learned to be a better mother. I’m going to go and find myself a job so that I can get all my children under one roof.” – Mary’s words.
Mary is still currently at the the Safe House and has one month left to stay. She is a loving person and we hope and believe that when he leaves the Safe House she will stay true to herself, focus on her dreams and Individual Plan as well as focus on what is the best for her children.
We believe in her.
*Names have been changed for the resident’s protection.
Safe House is a place of safety for women and their children who are victims of domestic violence. We rely on donations and support from volunteers. If you would like to pledge a monthly amount and make a significant difference in the lives of the women who find themselves all alone and with nowhere else to go, then please become a Friend of Safe House.