Ending gender-based discrimination and violence is a global priority that requires collective action. On Thursday 27 August a Gender Based Violence Awareness Campaign was held at K1 Park. This event was facilitated by the Ward 68 OSS/WAR Room Executive Team. Their Executive Secretary Mr Neil Axford stated that; “Through unity by all NGOs, Government Stakeholders and Community Leaders, it was a Great Initiative where NGOs were able to highlight their Services Rendered to assist those affected by Gender Based Violence. Government Stakeholders were on board to Empower Community Members on to how to use the available reporting mechanisms with regards to this issue. Community Leaders also shared Testimonies and words of encouragement to all”.
The message was loud and clear! Abuse is learned behavior! Sometimes people witness it in their own families. Other times they learn it from friends or popular culture. However, abuse is a choice, and it’s not one that anyone has to make. Many people who experience or witness abuse growing up decide not to use those negative and hurtful ways of behaving in their own relationships. While outside forces such as drug or alcohol addiction can sometimes escalate abuse, it’s most important to recognize that these issues do not cause abuse.
Abusive people believe that they have the right to control and restrict their partners, while enjoying the feeling that exerting their power gives them. They often believe that their own feelings and needs should be the priority in the relationship, so they use abusive tactics to dismantle equality and make their partners feel less valuable and deserving of respect in the relationship.
Wendy Augustine of Wentworth Victim Friendly Organisation, urges GBV victims to seek help urgently. “Counselling will be of great help to you. You will be able to understand that what you are experiencing is not normal.”
Anyone can be abusive and anyone can be the victim of abuse. It happens regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race or economic background. If you are being abused by your partner, you may feel confused, afraid, angry and sometimes trapped. All of these emotions are normal responses to abuse. You might also blame yourself for what is happening. But, no matter what others might say, you are never responsible for your partner’s abusive actions. Being abusive is a choice. It’s a strategic behavior the abusive person uses to create their desired power dynamic. Regardless of the circumstances of the relationship or the pasts of either partner, no one ever deserves to be abused.
A contrite Anice Isaacs confesses; “In order to heal, in order to move on, I have acknowledged the truth of what I have done, and turned to God. I recognise my wife as a full and real human being, and I acknowledge the harm I have caused and I feel remorseful. I have taken responsibility for my actions and done extensive work to understand what made me commit this violence. I do realise that I learned this behaviour from my father, who also physically abused my mother “
Norma Maclou, of Malibongwe, has also experienced gender based violence in two of her relationships. “You need to ask; why is it I still love someone who abuses me? Why is it I need to numb myself with someone who is like a drug to me? With someone who is no good for me?
I had to learn that my propensity for this kind of addiction was in my way before I ever met my first partner. Only then could I stop trying to fix him and focus on healing myself.
It comes down to self-esteem. With zero self-worth, we attract those who treat us as worthless. You need to understand what caused that and how you came to feel that you aren’t good enough. I came to terms with this and eventually married a good man. There are some good men out there”, she advises.
Pastor Allistair Barclay pointed out that the story of a woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) is another example of Jesus disassociating himself with the patriarchal rules of his day. That only the woman was charged and convicted of a crime that required at least two participants, showed the injustice committed by men against women.
Sister Renette Roskruge stated; “Violence against women is a public health and human rights emergency. As a healthcare worker, I believe in a world where victims have access to the health care they need to thrive. Our mission is all about being advocates against gender based violence, which includes promoting gender equality and providing survivors of violence with safe, effective, and compassionate care.”
No matter why it happens, abuse is not okay and it’s never justified.
By: Lorraine Richards