#GBV: How to Help Someone Who Can't See The Danger


By Phumlani Kango


Sometimes the very victims of gender-based violence are those who need the most help seeing the danger they are in.

Gender-based violence is a serious problem in some societies, especially here in South Africa, with the stats supporting this evidence. Gender-based violence is a type of assault which occurs between men and women in relationships, in the home, at the workplace and in our communities. This particular brand of violence is all about power and control.

It takes the form of physical, emotional, sexual, economic or spiritual abuse, and manifests itself in the form of crimes such as rape, domestic violence, sexual harassment. It creates fear, breaks down self-esteem, makes people do things they don’t want to do, like staying with someone who is abusing them.

We see examples of this behaviour in season 2 of MTV Shuga: Down South specifically with regard to Sol’s parents. Sol’s father has created an environment filled with fear in their home and is does not hold back when he physically assaults their mother. However, throughout all of this, Sol’s mother continues to defend her husband’s actions every time after he hits her which leads us to the crux of this article: What does one do when they have a family member or a friend like Sol’s Mom who refuses to believe they are in danger?

In Episode 8 & 9, we see Sol pleading with his Mom to leave his abusive Dad and Nurse Nomalanga even lends her opinion.  Sol’s Mom’s response is very dismissive, as she says that they (Sol and Aunty Nomalanga) must save their help for people who need it; claiming that she also does things to anger her husband. This is an example were the abuser has gaslit their victim into believing they deserve the abuse they are getting. In this case, if you were trying to help the victim one has to tread lightly because you don’t want the person to shut you out for “imposing”. The best advice I could give would be to reach out to an organization or a professional for steps to take.

How Else To Help Someone In Danger 

  1. Understand

As a friend or family, you need to position yourself in a way that won’t seem like you’re imposing or telling the person what to do. Rather, you want to be seen as someone who is advising. Another thing to keep in mind is that you should not place shame, blame, or guilt on them. Don’t say things like “You just need to leave.” Instead, say something like, “I get scared thinking about what might happen to you.” Tell them you to understand that their situation is very difficult.

2. Make a Safety Plan

People will always feel comfortable when they know someone understands. One thing one can do is Help them make a safety plan. A safety plan might include packing important items and helping her find a “safe” word. This is a code word she can use to let you know she is in danger without an abuser knowing. It might also include agreeing on a place to meet her if she has to leave in a hurry. This is just an example of one thing one can do but the most important thing is being supportive.

3. Get professionals involved

As mentioned, there are various organizations and professionals that friend and family members can reach out to for advice on how to handle the situation. One of these organizations in South Africa is called POWA or People Opposing Women Abuse. POWA has been involved in numerous initiatives to promote values of people’s rights especially women’s rights.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you’ve had to try to help a family member or friend that is being abused? What steps did you follow? Share with us as these might help others.

Remember, if you are ever in an abusive relationship, help is around the corner. You can contact Love Life at any time even if you don’t have airtime by sending a PLEASE CALL ME to: 083 123 1023.

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