How much do we really know about Gender-Based Violence? I have heard of the GBV helpline and centers. Like a small percentage of women in South Africa, I have not called the GBV helpline on 0800 150 150. Touch wood I never have to. During the hard lockdown of the pandemic, a friend of mine contacted me on behalf of her pregnant friend. She was been abused by her boyfriend or husband, I can’t remember his exact relationship to her but he was definitely the father of her children. Trying to find her help was rather challenging as she had another child in the mix. It was a cruel situation but we didn’t stop until we heard of GBV. The only downfall in the whole process was that she struggled to get away from her boyfriend or husband to communicate with us. He monitored her every move 24/7. The only time she could contact us was when he rarely went to the shops. Luckily, he was not smart enough to leave with her mobile lphone. I spent many nights thinking about her a lot as I myself was pregnant at the time though I wasn’t with the father of the baby so I was free from such cruelty. I was so happy when her unborn baby and child accepted help from GBV and got away to safety. She too was so relieved. She thanked her friend and I profusely.

Many women know very little about GBV. The six types of GBV are physical, verbal, sexual, socio-economic, domestic violence or in intimate relationships and harassment and sexual harassment. From my experience many years ago when I was almost killed by my ex-lover, if I could turn back the hands of time, I would rather call the GBV helpline instead of the police. Unfortunately, the police have the tendency to be very brutal towards women when they report GBV types of abuse. They are biased, they lack understanding of the woman’s situation and they can also be very insensitive. It is like some of them feel that it is excusable and acceptable for a man to abuse a woman. If she is abused she was the one who triggered the man to react by behaving badly. What absolute nonsense! No one and I mean no one, man or woman has the right to abuse anyone!

Researchers claim that cultural, legal, economic, and political factors are the main causes of GBV. Look, I know this is a complex topic and it is easier said than done. I am also compassionate and empathetic to the reality that it is not easy for an abused woman and possibly an abused man to just leave a relationship with an abusive partner as there are many factors that come into play. I remember how I was influenced by family and friends’ opinions and religious beliefs before taking action against my ex-lover for myself which was for my own good. Let’s take this in for a moment, statistics that were released in South Africa with a report titled ‘Crimes Against Women in South Africa’, back in 2021, indicated that one in five women—that’s 21% of the female population in South Africa—had experienced physical violence by a partner. Horrific! Now, think about it for one minute; that was in 2021! What is the latest report revealing? Also, it was only one of the five types of GBV (physical abuse) that were reported. Imagine if women knew what all the types of GBV are and reported them, what would the statistics show? We really need to do better as a nation and take GBV very seriously! More action and less talk!

No one chooses to be a victim of GBV but people are people and life happens! If it happens or is happening to you, please get help and save your life! Do whatever you have to do to get out of the cycle, survive and overcome. You are not a statistic! Your life is important and it matters! You are worthy and deserving to enjoy a fulfilling life filled with unconditional love, peace, and joy for yourself, your loved ones, and your partner.