TW: domestic violence
Recently on Twitter there was a conversation happening tagged #whydidntsheleave and #whyididntleave which highlighted the reality of so many people living in abusive households. Many very serious topics were raised which very clearly showed how complicated an issue domestic violence is.
Often people say things like “Why didn’t she just leave?” and ” I’d never let someone treat me like that.” What people often don’t understand is that DV is insidious and doesn’t start of with someone hitting their partner. It often takes the form of long term manipulation and isolation, so that when the dynamic turns physically violent the victim can barely distinguish the behaviour as abusive. Putting the responsibility for not leaving on the victim is not only disempowering to the person but also victim blaming of the worst kind. Often there is an aspect of economic abuse where the victim doesn’t have money to leave, they are so isolated from family and friends that they can’t ask for help, and the chances of an escalation in violence to being life threatening increases dramatically in the days and weeks following the victim trying to leave.
Here is a basic guide to recognizing Domestic Abuse
Domestic violence can happen in any relationship. Women are far more likely to become victims of domestic violence, and while the systems in place are woefully inadequate there are still structures in place to assist and support women and children DV survivors.
After a recent event where a friend was caught up in a dangerous and abusive relationship I realized, there are very few resources for men who are the victims on DV. Yes, men can suffer from Domestic Abuse, yes men do need help to get out of an abusive relationship, and yet there are only 2 shelters in Gauteng that will take male DV survivors. Neither of these shelters are easily accessible.
To complicate matters, if you are a gay male it is almost impossible to lay a report of violence with the police, obtain a protection order, or find a place of safety to go to. The issue of DV in the LGBT community is almost completely ignored. If you are gay and you aren’t married to your abuser, access to the structures for DV victim support and legal system is even more difficult.
After spending the day trying to find some sort of help for my friend and having phone call after phone call met with “I’m sorry there is nothing we can do” I realize that the LGBT community is still marginalized in South Africa and basic community support structures are inaccessible to the LGBT community.
Database of Men’s Organizations (focusing more on males as abusers than as the victim of DV)
Victim Empowerment resource document (comprehensive list of shelters and DV support however some of the shelters for men no longer exist