We all know someone who is abused! Perhaps you are not aware, but be so sure, you do know someone. It does not matter where you live, what you do and what circles of friends and colleagues you surround yourself with. One or more of them, perhaps yourself, is a victim.

Globally, it is estimated that 27% of all women and girls from the age of 15 and above have experienced physical or sexual violence. Here in South Africa, it is one of three, not to forget that we are one of the top five countries in the world when it comes to femicide. Violence has become a norm.

Today, on the Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women, which is also the start of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, we would like to share what you can do to contribute to a safer world.

Learn the signs. Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, controlling, financial and so much more. Most are easy to hide. Read up on the signs, which are easy to find online. Learn how to help a friend who needs safety and support. If you are a victim, you are not alone. Seek help. At the end of this blog post, some contact numbers for essential services will be available for you. 

Listen and Believe.  Sharing a personal story of abuse takes courage. Listen to her, believe and be that safe space she needs to speak up. By starting to talk, she has taken the first step in breaking the cycle of abuse.

Teach and learn. Talk with your children about how consent is always mandatory and how accountability is for all. Listen to what they have to say.  Give them the correct information, educate them about gender equality, bring up stereotypes and how respect and acceptance are crucial in all relationships. Don’t only talk, be a true role model.

Talk about it! Violence against women and children is a violation of their human rights. Stand on the victim’s side and promote women’s rights. Not only today, but always.

Be accountable to each other. Challenge family, friends and colleagues to think of their behaviour and speak up when someone is crossing the line. Sexist jokes and comments are never ok.

If you live in South Africa, save the following contact numbers on your cell phone, since you never know when you will need urgent help:

National GBV Helpline    0800 150 150

GBV Command Centre    0800 428 428

SAPS Emergency               10111

Lifeline South Africa        0861 322 322

Childline                              116

Written by Anna-Karin Öhrnstedt

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