#DontLookAway – “Let down by the system after my partner hit me.

The initiative by Independent Media #DontLookAway  as part of 16 Days of No Violence Against Women and Children continues to highlight the plight of victims.


On Sunday, the 16 Days comes to an end. 


This does not mean we have to wait for November next year to highlight the problems. We need on-going programmes and have to sustain the awareness. 


Minister of Women, Susan Shabangu, has agreed we must turn it into 365 Days of awareness. 


We need to protect our women and children. Shabangu will host a ministerial Imbizo in Tokoza at the weekend to outline the plan of action.


Let’s continue to DO our bit. #MakeSASafe


#DONTLOOKAWAY REPORT IN THE STAR:


WHILE some women some­times choose to stay in abu­sive re­la­tion­ships de­spite how toxic they are for var­i­ous rea­sons, for some, once beaten is in­deed twice shy.


 *Mea­gan, 50, is one of those women.

She had been in a re­la­tion­ship with her part­ner for five months when he beat her up se­verely one day, leav­ing her with a frac­tured nose, an eye in­fec­tion, as well as a bruise on her eye that was still clearly vis­i­ble three months af­ter the at­tack.


Although it was the first time her boyfriend had laid his hands on her, Mea­gan was so shaken that she ter­mi­nated the re­la­tion­ship and opened a case against him.


For Mea­gan, leav­ing wasn’t ne­go­tiable and stay­ing wasn’t a pos­si­bil­ity.


“If I went back to him, it would have taken my power away from me. Many vic­tims go back to their abusers and that strips off a form of their power and in­de­pen­dence,” she said.


Another thing she re­alised, she said, was that the man – who is an am­putee – was filled with self-loathing, so he took out his frus­tra­tions on her.

Although it has been a few months since the in­ci­dent, Mea­gan re­mem­bers that day as if it were yes­ter­day.


It was Women’s Day and her ex-part­ner had been out with his son. They re­turned at about 10pm.

Mea­gan was sit­ting in the dark as there was load shed­ding. She said her ex-part­ner’s son walked in and greeted her. 


“Good evening,” he said. “My re­sponse was ‘how can it be a good evening? There is no elec­tric­ity and I am all alone in the dark’.


“My ex-boyfriend then limped into the room,” she said.


Mea­gan said she was on the bed when her ex-boyfriend started punch­ing her in the face.


“After he beat me up, he said ‘I’m go­ing to break your legs and you are go­ing to crawl out of here’.

“That was when I re­alised that the abuse had noth­ing to do with me and that he was a bro­ken per­son and he in fact hated him­self (for be­ing an am­putee),” she added.


At that point the son stormed into the bed­room and told his fa­ther to go and wash the blood off his hands.


“I think that was his way of help­ing me es­cape, and I told him to open the gate. I went straight to the po­lice sta­tion.”


Ac­cord­ing to Mea­gan, all the sys­tems put into place were filled with em­ploy­ees “who lacked com­pas­sion, pas­sion and em­pa­thy for their jobs be­cause there was no as­sis­tance given to them as vic­tims”.


In­stead they were made to feel like the per­pe­tra­tors, and you were ba­si­cally left all alone, she said.

Mea­gan said she was told at the po­lice sta­tion to get a J88 form.


The next day she took the po­lice to her as­sailant and then went to a clinic, but af­ter wait­ing for two hours, staff told her they could not as­sist her and that she would have to go to a hos­pi­tal to have the J88 form com­pleted.


“I feel like no­body ad­vises you that it is go­ing to be a long, dif­fi­cult and painful road. I mean, if they were ef­fec­tively trained, the per­son help­ing at the clinic could have told me from the out­set that they would not be able to as­sist me.


“And it’s worse when you don’t have money, as it has the abil­ity to make all one’s prob­lems go away,” she said.


Mea­gan said she was later re­quired to per­form a urine test.


“The hos­pi­tal con­di­tions were ap­palling and the doc­tor did not even ex­am­ine my doc­u­men­ta­tion prop­erly.


“I was left feel­ing dirty and ashamed as though I had brought this or­deal upon my­self,” she said.


After her as­sault, Mea­gan left Joburg for Dur­ban to re­cu­per­ate at her cousin’s place.


“I couldn’t be seen in pub­lic with the hor­rific bruise on my eye. Peo­ple have this stigma at­tached to abuse. It di­min­ishes all forms of your dig­nity,” she said.


When she re­turned to Joburg, she tried to get a pro­tec­tion or­der against her ex-boyfriend.


How­ever, she said that was turned down be­cause it was an on­go­ing crim­i­nal case and he had not tried to abuse her again.


The mat­ter is be­fore the courts now, and de­spite her pain and suf­fer­ing, Mea­gan wants the court to give her at­tacker coun­selling as op­posed to jail time.


“Pri­son is a ter­ri­ble place and if he were to get locked up he would come back more messed up as op­posed to be­ing re­ha­bil­i­tated,” she said.


Re­gard­ing what abuse vic­tims go through af­ter their or­deal, Mea­gan be­lieves em­ploy­ing the right peo­ple in the right jobs could make a huge dif­fer­ence.


“Var­i­ous de­part­ments in the jus­tice in­dus­try should have manda­tory tests per­formed, to an­a­lyse if these po­ten­tial em­ploy­ees are fit to deal with all these bro­ken peo­ple they are sub­jected to daily.


“To them it’s just a job and the vic­tim ends up more frus­trated than be­fore.”


Gaut­eng Depart­ment of So­cial Devel­op­ment’s Mbangwa Xaba said the rea­son some vic­tims did not feel that they re­ceived proper as­sis­tance was be­cause of the ter­ri­ble con­di­tions they were sub­jected to on a daily ba­sis.


“Care­givers should be well trained and car­ing be­cause it took a lot for the vic­tims to re­port the crime in the first place.


“Care­givers’ days are of­ten long and they also ex­pe­ri­ence a high vol­ume of vic­tims, which can be very stress­ful to them.”


The So­cial Devel­op­ment Depart­ment has a toll-free num­ber to as­sist vic­tims to re­port abuse anony­mously and of­fer them sup­port and coun­selling through the court pro­ceed­ings. The num­ber is 0800150150. *Not her real name. 


*Yusuf Abramjee is an anti-crime activist and Namola’s Chief Ambassador. He also heads-up #MakeSASafe



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