With the recent media emphasis of Janay Rice speaking out about her abuse by former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, domestic violence has been brought to the front of everyone’s minds. Many questions have arisen, such why abused women don’t immediately flee from an abusive relationship. And the reason is, because it is not that simple. #whyistayed

Police statistics on domestic violence in South Africa country are limited, but 15 609 murders and 64 500 reported rapes in 2011 to 2012 suggest massive levels of violence in our homes. Household surveys by the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) have found that 40% of men have hit their partners and one in four men has raped a woman. Three-quarters of men who admit to having raped women say they did so first as teenagers. And, while a quarter of the country’s women has been raped, just 2% of those raped by a partner report the incident to police.

But what is Domestic Violence?

Historically, domestic violence has been framed and understood exclusively as a women’s issue. Domestic abuse affects women, but also has devastating consequences for other populations and societal institutions. Men also can be victims of abuse, children are affected by exposure to domestic violence, and formal institutions face enormous challenges responding to domestic violence in their communities.
The effects of domestic violence on victims are more typically recognized, but perpetrators also are impacted by their abusive behaviour as they stand to lose children, damage relationships, and face legal consequences. Domestic violence cuts across every segment of society and occurs in all age, racial, ethnic, socio-economic, sexual orientation, and religious groups. Domestic violence is a social, economic, and health concern that does not discriminate. As a result, communities across the country are developing strategies to stop the violence and provide safe solutions for victims of domestic violence.

Domestic violence is a far too common occurrence. It does not discriminate and can happen at any time during a relationship. It takes place in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. It crosses all ethnic, social, and economic levels.
Signs of domestic violence often are overlooked, denied, or excused. The truth is that there is never an excuse. The only way to end domestic violence is to be aware.
Domestic violence can be more than physical abuse. It can include sexual and emotional abuse as well.
Physical abuse includes any type of abuse that causes physical harm or injury. Sexual abuse is any form of a sexual situation in which you are forced to participate in sexual activity that is unwanted, unsafe, or degrading. Emotional abuse diminishes self-worth and self-esteem. This is usually done in the form of verbal abuse – including name-calling, yelling, and shaming.

Abusers commonly use tactics to gain control over their victims. Abusers often may try to make their partner feel bad or “less than.” This tactic is used to make their partners stay. By engaging in behaviour such as insulting, name-calling or other forms of humiliation, the abuser is able to diminish self-worth. Many victims start to believe the negativity and begin to feel they do not deserve anything else and no one else would want them.
An abuser may also take on the dominant role. This is often overlooked because it can be mistaken for “being in control” or “taking on responsibility.” This type of abuser will make all decisions and expect things to be done the way they want it without question or input.

The last thing an abuser wants is for their victim to realize that they could be okay without the abuser, or for others to point out that the relationship is unhealthy. While there are quite a few tactics to create this belief, an abuser may begin to isolate their partner from family and friends. In extreme cases, they may try to prevent their victim from going to work, school, or other outside activities.
Intimidation and threats also are commonly used. An abuser may threaten to hurt themselves, their partner or family. They may also use tactics such as destroying things, damaging personal possessions, harming pets, or any other intimidating gestures. Even when these threats are not physical, they should be taken very seriously because it is highly likely that they will escalate.
Abusers also are very good at minimizing their behaviours and placing the blame elsewhere. They will commonly make statements like “it wasn’t that bad,” “you’re making it bigger than it needs to be,” “if only you didn’t make me so mad,” or “I’m just having a bad day.” The truth is there is no excuse and no one is ever to blame for any form of abuse.
Domestit Violence

If you are anyone you know is in an abusive relationship, support is out there. Call us at LifeLineSA on our toll free line 24hrs/ 7days per week for more information and counselling on 0800 150 150.