As the social evil of domestic violence against women in South Africa devastates the country, there is an urgent need for individual and community action to bring an end to the harm and destruction that domestic violence causes.
The only way we can stop the cycle of domestic violence, is to come together and end the silence. Which means each of us has a role to play in supporting victims of domestic violence to end their abuse, through information sharing, education, support and reporting violent or abusive behaviour.
To support victims of domestic violence in ending their abuse, here are 5 simple strategies you can use to give a helping hand and provide support to victims of domestic abuse.
Ending Their Silence
Report Abuse - part of being an ally to victims of domestic violence is by not ignoring any abuse or violence you witness, which means, with the victim’s consent, calling the police to report the abuse or telling a trusted community leader. By reporting abuse, you help to break the cycle of domestic silence by making people who may be able to assist, aware that there is someone in need of help.
Education - knowledge is power, and when it comes to tackling domestic violence, the power of information sharing and education about domestic violence is unmatched. Educate yourself and share the information about domestic abuse with those around you. By doing so you can empower victims of abuse with information about how abuse works, so that they can work towards leaving the abusive situation, and reclaim their power with this knowledge.
Listen - having someone to confide in is another form of support that can be really helpful to people experiencing abuse. Simply listen to the victim without judgement, comforting them and most importantly, believing them when they confide in you. If a victim indicates any type of support that they need to feel safer, then do what you can to help them get that support.
Be Respectful - respect the choices, wishes, rights, and dignity of victims of domestic violence. This includes not pressuring or asking blaming questions to an abused woman, and remembering that any information they share with you is confidential.
Give Support - words of encouragement and support can go a long way in helping survivors but there are also simple actions that can provide help to domestic violence victims. Be reassuring, comforting and supportive by listening to the survivor and by being a resource. A victim of domestic violence may not be able to research shelters, emergency numbers or ways to escape their abuse, so be a resource by providing the victim with the necessary information, should they want it.
Domestic violence is a serious social issue that is able to plague the country partly because of the silence that often accompanies and hides acts of violence, due to the stigma that survivors of abuse can face or feel that they may receive if they come forward about their abuse. To play your part in stopping the cycle of domestic violence, use our tips to support survivors in ending their abuse through listening to and believing victims, resource sharing, and provision of safe spaces to help them #EndDomesticSilence.