Unite Against Women and Child Abuse
During 16 Days of Activism, the Western Cape Government will be calling on all South Africans to unite and generate an increased awareness of the negative impact of violence on women and children. Our communities must come together to protect our most vulnerable citizens.
What is the International 16 Days of Activism Campaign?
16 Days of Activism is a United Nations initiative that raises awareness about violence against women and children. The campaign takes place annually between 25 November (International Day of No Violence Against Women) and 10 December (International Human Rights Day). South Africa also uses the campaign to include issues relating to violence against children.
Strong Women, Bright Futures
We spoke to Aeysha Samuels, who shared her story with us, and gave advice to women who may be facing similar situations.
1. Tell us briefly about the situation or abuse that you have been through.
I was abused by my husband for six years, physically and emotionally. Being in an abusive relationship really broke me as a person, because I had no worth. Every mark on my body has a story to tell. At times I thought this man should just kill me, then I don’t have to suffer or go through all of this pain. What hurt me the most was that my son had to witness everything and it had an impact on him. Being abused can really break a person and it takes a long road to recover because the marks on my body are constant reminders for me.
2. What did you do to get out of the situation?
At first I was scared and worried because I had no family supporting me, but then I took the first step to look for a safe place for me and my two kids. I went to the social workers and asked for their help. At first they just wanted to assist my kids, but being the mother I am I said no, if you don’t have place for me and my kids then I don’t need your help. With this I was sent to Saartjie Baartman Centre, where I was assisted by another social worker. I told her my story and she found me a place at St Anne’s for me and my kids, the next day I was on their doorstep. Me and my kids were welcomed with open arms, it was the best place I could end up.
3. What are the signs which family and friends should be aware of?
When a woman has scars that shouldn’t be there, and when asked what happened would say it was an accident. She might even try to reach out to you but would be to scared because her trust has been broken. When in an abusive relationship it’s hard to trust or even speak to anyone because you are scared that your partner will find out. If you suspect that someone is in being abused, try to talk to that person, give them your word that you won’t say anything to the perpetrator and then the abused person will open up.
4. How can family and friends support someone who is being abused?
To know that someone understands what you going through means a lot to a person who is or was abused. Try to get that person as far as possible away from the person who is abusing them. All that I can say is just be there for that person and show them that you are willing to help them in their situation. Don’t just dump them somewhere and forget about them. That is the time when they go back into the situation they came from.
5. What advice would you give to women who are currently facing similar situations?
It takes courage to get out. I won’t lie, I was scared to but made myself strong. I just thought to myself me and my kids don’t deserve this type of abuse and enough is enough, so I took the first step to end it, only you can make the change, don’t say I’m going to do it tomorrow, start today.
I ended up at a place called St Anne’s Homes. Many people say a shelter is a bad place, but for me it was the best. Without the help of St Anne’s I would still be in my situation.
What can you do?
Wear your white ribbon every day to show your support for the campaign, and tell your family and friends to do the same. You could also contact your nearest Western Cape Social Development office to find out which organisations you could provide support to.
What is government doing?
The Western Cape Department of Social Development has compiled a list of activies and awareness sessions which are open to communities across the province. Make sure to contact the responsible person for the activity or session for venue details.