Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, reach out.

There are warning signs of abuse. If you are concerned about your relationship or the relationship of someone you care about, consider these signs:

  • Having a partner with a bad temper, or one who is jealous or possessive
  • Being overly eager to please the abuser
  • Checking in with abusive partner frequently to outline daily activities or confirm prior plans
  • Frequent injuries and claiming of “accidents”
  • Inconsistent attendance at work, school, or other social activities
  • Excessive clothing or accessories to hide signs of physical abuse
  • Low self-esteem and self-worth
  • Limited access to friends, family, transportation, or money
  • Depression or anxiety or other personality changes

If you or someone you know is experiencing these signs or others that may indicate abuse, talk to someone. If you are not sure if you are being abused, ask someone. If you have questions about someone being abused, ask them. You may save yourself as well as someone else.

In South Africa, the absence of adequate childcare is, of course, particularly pronounced, with the grim reality being that a child in this country is more likely to be raised by a non-biological parent than by both biological parents. Add to this the high rate of teenage pregnancies, with children born to young mothers who are ill equipped to raise them, and neglect is inevitable.

The country’s culture of violence further exacerbates the problem, say experts. “Take corporal punishment, for instance – a practice still often condoned in this country,” points out Epstein. “Indefensible physical violence, such as hitting as a form of retribution, conditions children to respond to angry feelings with violence.”

There is help at hand. You can always contact us with issues regarding gender violence on 0800 150 150. With LifeLineSA you always have help and support at just a phone call away.