Why reporting abuse can be so hard
Choma, whether it’s emotional or physical, dealing with abuse can be complicated by a number of different things which make leaving an abusive relationship quite hard. There are many factors that play a role in why abuse isn’t reported as much as it should be and a lot of the time it boils down to fear of being harmed or feeling guilty - although abuse is never ever the victim’s fault, no matter what.
Even though we know the reasons why people don’t report abuse and why they should, let’s take a further look at why reporting it is hard in the first place.
Hoping your partner will change
Maybe your partner wasn’t always abusive. Perhaps the relationship started out as what seemed like the perfect relationship and one day, or slowly over time, things started to change. This could make you think that your partner being abusive isn't really who they are and that will eventually change. Or maybe they apologise with grand gestures and nice gifts, with promises that it’ll never happen again. These are a few ways that can make it easy to believe that an abusive partner just made a “mistake”. But Choma, abuse is not a mistake. It’s a choice, and if someone chooses to hurt you, it’s best to walk away from the situation entirely.
Not realising it’s abuse
The truth is that abuse doesn’t always look like bruises or scars. Sometimes abusive behaviour is when your partner speaks to you in a disrespectful way and it lowers your self-esteem. Or if they’re manipulative and make you feel guilty for not wanting to do things you’re not comfortable with, especially when it comes to sex and intimacy.
Here’s an article to read if you’re not sure whether you’re in an abusive relationship Choma.
Sometimes, the abuser in a relationship might be the breadwinner, which can make it really hard to report them if you financially depend on them. This doesn’t mean it’s your fault Choma, it only means that it’s always best to make sure you can support yourself. I understand that this is much easier said than done, but you can help yourself by getting your CV ready and looking for a job if you can- if you can’t, because you’re still studying or in school, reach out to your family for financial support. Sometimes the case may be that the abuse is happening in your family, this can make it difficult to figure out where to turn Choma, so here is a list of shelters dedicated to helping abused women and children:
Bethany Home (Bertrams area, Johannesburg)
Tel: +27 11 614 3245
Sisters of Mercy (Pretoria)
St. Anne’s Homes (48 Balfour Street, Woodstock, 7915.)
Telephone: +27 21 448 6792 / +27 21 488 8513.
Telephone: 021 797 4190
Telephone: +27 31 303 2912 (Kerr House)/ +27 31-3032912 (Durban hospice for women)
The Open Door Crisis Centre (Pinetown)
Telephone: 084 409 2679
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
Fear of being alone
Choma, it’s common for an abusive partner to disapprove of your friends (and sometimes your family) or how often you should go and see them. This disapproval can make you feel forced to break friendships in order to hold onto a relationship, and results in a weaker support system for you. Abusers tend to do this because it means that you’re left depending on them more and more. But Choma, anyone who wants you to cut out friends and family because they’re jealous or possessive is not the kind of person you should be in a relationship with.
Choma, in the end, one of the best ways to help someone experiencing abuse is to listen to their story and try understand their situation, because it’s not always as simple as just leaving. You can also offer them the following numbers to call for professional help:
POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse): 011 642 4345/6
Stop Gender Violence helpline: 0800-150-150
Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust: 021 447 9762
LifeLine South Africa: 0861-322-322
SAPS Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences: 012 393 2014
If you’re in an abusive relationship or know someone who is, here is a helpful article: Getting out of an abusive relationship.
Remember, you can send me a message to talk to me about anything. So if you or a friend need advice or help, you can also contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657).
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