South Africa has one of the highest domestic violence incidences in the world. Ninety five percent of domestic violence cases have been reported to be men abusing women. It has been estimated that one in six South African women is regularly assaulted by her intimate partner.
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1. What is domestic violence?
Domestic Violence is a pattern of behaviour that can occur in all cultures, religions, races, classes and relationships that involves violence or abuse by someone in a domestic context against another, whether it is physical, emotional, verbal or sexual.
2. The profile of an abuser
If your man is jealous and constantly questioning your whereabouts, if he shows controlling behaviour, like not allowing you to do certain things without his permission, if he tries to isolate you and move you away from your friends and family, if he holds rigid gender roles, and if he forces sex against your will then it sounds like you have an abusive man on your hands.
3. Stopping violence
Violence is caused by biological, social and psychological factors. Nobody is born violent. It is as a result of the interaction between our environment and our genetics, and although we may not be able to change our genes we can change the ways that they are expressed. To prevent violence means to prevent feelings of vulnerability, humiliation and shame.
A possible treatment for violence is individual therapy where the abuser is confronted and held accountable for his behaviour. He could also go to group therapy where he will be confronted by his peers and taught to focus and tackle the different aspects of his life head on. Psychotherapy is also an option as there are various types that work differently for different people depending on their life experiences and personality.
5. Can they really change?
People should not be defined as their behaviour. Violence is something that manifests. They need to get to know their real selves, recognise their emotions, and feel compassion and forgiveness for themselves as well as for those around them. Abusers, dependant on the person and their willingness of course, can change. They do have the ability to stop their behaviour and treat their partner the way they deserve to be treated with the proper help and guidance.
Violence is a disease and it is contagious and like many diseases, it can be cured. Violence is all about exposure. Just like being exposed to a cold can lower your immunity and cause you to have colds more often. Being exposed to aggressive behaviour causes one to exhibit those behaviours more often. Even if we fail to cure our own violent man, we can prevent violence from developing, and hopefully together we can end the violence against women!
Written by Sarah Kantor