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The only way we can stop the cycle of domestic violence, is to come together and end the silence. This is a safe space for you to discover how to do that. Your way.

The Basic facts about Women Abuse

What is Gender Based Violence?

GBV (Gender Based Violence) is the term used to describe any violence that occurs as a result of role expectations associated with each gender, as well as the unequal power relationships between the genders. In South Africa one in five women older than 18 has experienced physical violence. *

*2016, Gender Based Violence in SA. http://www.csvr.org.za

What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is a type of GBV, but this can be more than just physical abuse. It is any physical, emotional or financial behaviour that;

  • Controls another person.
  • Causes physical harm or fear.
  • Makes someone do things they do not want to do.
  • Prevents someone from doing things they want to do.

Abused women usually experience multiple forms of abuse.

Why Abused Women Stay:

The misconception about abused women who stay is that ‘’it can’t be that bad’’. The reality is that there are many factors that don’t allow them to leave an abusive relationship.

  • Financial dependence on the abuser.
  • Lack of knowledge of her rights.
  • Belief that the police can’t or won’t help her.
  • Belief that she deserves the abuse.
  • Belief that the abuser will change or that she can make it stop if she tries hard enough.
  • The abuser may forbid her to see other people or threaten to harm people she cares for.
  • Those she turns to for help may not believe her or blame her. 
  • Shame and embarrassment about the abuse.
  • Belief that the children need their father.

Download the full ‘Women Abuse’ pamphlet here. 

2019 POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse), https://www.powa.co.za/POWA/

Signs of Abuse

Domestic abuse happens in many ways; these can be physical or emotional.

Abusive Behaviour is:

  • When a person slaps, punches, kicks, shoves, scratches, bites or throws things at their partner.
  • When a person locks their partner in or out of the house or abandons them in a dangerous place.
  • When a person refuses to help their partner when they are injured, sick or pregnant.
  • When a person insults their partner, ridicules their beliefs, makes them feel worthless, humiliates them, makes false accusations or isolates them from friends and family.
  • When a person threatens to kill their partner, or themselves.

Signs that someone may be experiencing abuse:


  • Their partner sends harassing messages or calls constantly when they are apart.
  • They seem afraid or anxious around their partner.
  • Their partner limits their access to finances or financial decision making.
  • They stop taking care of their own emotional and physical needs.
  • They show changes in their personality or physical appearance.


The risk assessment tool below will help you or someone you know identify the potential risk faced by remaining in contact with the abuser. If you are a victim of domestic violence, please answer honestly by checking the boxes that apply to you:

  1. Your abuser has threatened to kill/harm you or your family.
  2. Your abuser has threatened or physically assaulted you or your family, or arranged for someone else to do so, with any weapon or dangerous object (e.g. knife, pot, firearm, etc.)
  3. Your abuser has harmed or killed a family pet or threatened to do so
  4. You are afraid that your abuser could harm your unborn child or children who live with you.
  5. Your abuser has been convicted of the violation of a protection order.
  6. Your abuser constantly insults, humiliates, degrades or blames you for all his/her problems to cause you emotional pain.
  7. Your abuser has constantly stalked or harassed you in person, on social media, or via text or email or arranged for someone else to stalk you/monitor your movement.
  8. Your abuser has damaged your property e.g. deflating your tyres or breaking your windows or doors etc.
  9. Your abuser controls your access to your money, takes your money without your permission or refuses to allow you to work or earn an income.
  10. Your partner has access to a firearm or dangerous weapons.
  11. You think your abuser has a problem with substance abuse such as alcohol or drugs or prescription drugs which has or may potentially lead to his or her violent behaviour.
  12. Your partner is jealous towards you, displays possessive behaviour or is controlling of you.
  13. Your partner on bail or parole, has served a time of imprisonment or has recently been released from custody in relation to an offence involving violence.
  14. The violence or controlling behaviour is becoming worse.

Download checklist here.

If you checked any of these boxes, you are at risk of further domestic violence, domestic homicide or death and we encourage you to seek help.


* 2018 Department of Justice and Constitutional Development

View our FAQs for additional information.

Ending YOUR Silence

Short Term

  • Speak to someone; a friend, family member, your HR department at work or someone in your community you trust.
  • Start to make plans to leave and move out permanently: Arrange a place to stay, set money aside and seek employment if you are not currently employed.
  • If possible, temporarily move out and find a safe space to stay. If you don't have a place to stay, there are shelters available.
  • Contact a women’s organisation for help, support and legal advice.

Long Term

  • Share your story with a counsellor who is experienced in domestic abuse situations.
  • Get a Domestic Violence Protection Order at your local Magistrate’s Court to protect yourself (and your children).
  • Exercise your right to lay a charge of assault with the police.

2019 POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse), https://www.powa.co.za/POWA/

Ending Their Silence

  • If you witness behaviour that you believe is violent or abusive, call the police anonymously or tell a community leader.
  • Educate yourself and inform other people about women abuse. You can do this by arranging a talk at your church or local community group.
  • Listen to, and believe, women who confide in you; ask her how you can help and what she needs to feel safer. Let them know they are not alone.
  • Don’t pressure or ask blaming questions to an abused woman. Remember that leaving or pursuing a protection can increase the threat of injury or death.
  • Respect that any information an abused woman gives you is confidential.
  • Support the survivor in all ways possible but listen to what they want. Reporting anything needs their consent.
  • Support the right of all women to live in safety.

2019 POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse), https://www.powa.co.za/POWA/

2019 Women Against Abuse; https://www.womenagainstabuse.org/take-action/ways-to-advocate

Creating a safety plan

If you are in or are planning to leave a violent relationship, it is important to make a safety plan first. You should talk to someone you trust about your plan if possible.

  • Plan with your children. Identify a safe place for them whether it’s a room with a lock or a neighbour’s house. Let them know that their job is to stay safe; not to protect you.
  • Arrange a signal with a neighbour when you need help.
  • Plan the safest time to get away. Know how you will leave and which doors or windows you will use.
  • Know where you can get help by contacting POWA on 0116424345 for a list of safe spaces near you. If you cannot make time to contact POWA, head over to your nearest South African Police Services station and ask them to contact the relevant NGO or support organisation for help.
  • Prepare an emergency kit that you can get to quickly. You may need to keep it at a trusted friend’s/neighbour’s house.

This Kit Should Include

  • An extra set of car and house keys.
  • Money or credit card(s).
  • Birth certificates and other ID of you and your children.
  • Driver’s license or other photo identification.
  • Work permit.
  • Health insurance cards and medication for you and your children.
  • Deed or lease to your house or apartment.
  • Any court papers or orders.
  • Change of clothes for you and your children.

2019 Women Against Abuse; https://www.womenagainstabuse.org/get-help/planning-for-safety

For More tips on creating a safety plan download the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development’s safety booklet.

Organisations that can help (NGO’s)

POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse)

POWA is a “feminist, women’s rights organisation that provides services and engages in advocacy. They provide shelter and counselling services for clients (and their children where relevant) who have been the victims of Gender-Based Violence (GBV). These services are located in the East and West Rand, and a “second stage” house is located in Berea. 

Counseling services include; individual counseling, group counseling, survivor’s emails enquiries, telephone counselling and Thuthuzela Care Centres.

counselling@powa.co.za

www.powa.co.za

0216424345

SMS or send please call +27 67 618 8467 / +27  67 115 8905 to be contacted. 

BRANCHES

Berea

64 Mitchell Street, Berea

011 642 4345/6

www.info@powa.co.za

Soweto

Chris Hani Baragwaneth Hospital

011 933 2333

www.soweto@powa.co.za

Katlehong

Monisi Section Katlehong

011 905 2211

www.katlehong@powa.o.za

Vosloorus

1620 Ditshego Street Basothong Section Vosloorus

011 906 4259

www.Vosloorus@powa.co.za

Tembisa

43 Benin and Jackie Ncube Street, Ethafeni Multi-Skills Centre

065 862 4095

tembisa@powa.co.za

Evaton

12320/105 Beverly Hills, Evaton West

081 383 7698

evaton@powa.co.za

ADAPT (Agisanang Domestic Abuse Prevention and Training)

A non-profit organisation based in Alexandra Township, Johannesburg. It provides counselling to women survivors of violence but also provides community education, conducts research, advocacy and lobbying, and builds community support for women and vulnerable girl children.

www.adapt.org.za

0117866608

FAMSA (Family and Marriage Society of SA)

Provides counselling, education and training for South Africans who want help with relationship issues. Help communities in focus areas such as violence and trauma, HIV/AIDS, abusive relationships, poverty and relationship breakdown.

0119757106/7

Gender-Based Violence Command Centre

The Department of Social Development opened a Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Command Centre in November 2013. It operates 24 hours a day and is operational all year long to assist victims of gender-based violence.

www.gbv.org.za

0800 428 428

Send a please call me to *120*7867#

SMS Help to 31531

LifeLine

Provides anonymous, confidential and accessible telephonic information, counselling and referrals in all 11 official languages to survivors, witnesses and perpetrators of Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

0800150150

Masimanyane Women’s Rights International

An advocacy and empowerment organisation that works with local, national, and global partners to strengthen women’s rights, reduce HIV/Aids, and eradicate violence against women. It evolved from the Masimanyane Women’s Support Centre, which was established to address the critical issue of violence against women and now also participates in research, documentation, and advocacy.

www.masimanyane.org.za

Nisaa Institute for Women’s Development

A non-profit, non-governmental organization located in Lenasia, Johannesburg, Nisaa focuses on the prevention of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and the empowerment of women who have been abused by their partners. It provides counselling and shelter services, awareness and advocacy, training and developing local, national, regional and international partnerships.

www.nisaa.org.za

0118545804/5

Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children

Situated in Manenberg, Cape Town, they cater to women and children abuse survivors. They have a 24-hour crisis response; a residential shelter and transitional housing; legal assistance; and job-skills training bringing together a number of organisations both within government structures and the non-governmental spaces.

www.saartjiebaartmancentre.org.za

0216335287

Shukumisa

Made up of NGOs, community-based organisations, research institutions and legal services. Members work with adults, children, people with disabilities, sex workers and the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender and intersex community and other key populations. It operates as a coalition of organisations through collaboration under one umbrella. 

http://www.shukumisa.org.za

0214471467

Sonke Gender Justice

An organisation in South Africa that promotes gender equality, fights to curb domestic violence, and reduce the spread of HIV. This organisation carries out several programmes to advance the prevention of domestic violence, such as the One Man Campaign and the Sonke’s Social and Structural Drivers. 

https://genderjustice.org.za/

Cape Town: +27 (0)21 423 7088

Johannesburg: +27 (0)11 339 3589

Bushbuckridge Satellite Office: +27 (0)13 795 5076

Gugulethu Satellite Office: +27 (0)21 633 3140

Tears Foundation

TEARS Foundation provides access to crisis intervention, advocacy, counselling, and prevention education services for those impacted by domestic violence and child abuse. Confidential services are provided to all victims at no charge.

www.tears.co.za

0105905920

USSD: *134*7355#

The Trauma Centre

www.trauma.org.za

0214657373

The Frida Hartley Shelter

Located in Yeoville, Johannesburg and takes in homeless women and their children who have survived neglect, abuse, trauma, and homelessness. It provides a home to women who have lost their jobs and are struggling financially, and young homeless mothers looking to kick-start their lives.

www.fridahartley.org

0116486005