Where to turn when a family member is abusive

News

By Lesedi Thwala

30/07/2019

In her most recent piece for MTV Shuga: Down South, Lesedi Thwala wants you to know the options available to you if you are being abused by a family member.

Dealing with abuse can be endlessly triggering and traumatic, especially when it is coming from a loved one or a family member. Although you may feel trapped, there is always a way out and today we’d like to discuss some of those options. After opening up a poll to votes, we were shocked to learn that a large percentage of our voters felt as if they had no options if a family member was abusing them like Sol’s father was doing to their family.

Many felt as if the best solution would be to wait until the abuse gets better – and while we understand why you would feel this way, we would like you to know that there are options available to you if you are stuck in this type of situation.

No matter what, you must always remember that being abused is never your fault because nothing you could ever do or say could ever make being abused okay! Hoping it all goes away may seem like the sensible solution but unfortunately, it can put you at even more risk, especially if the abuser is not willing to change.

It may help to note that whoever it is that is hurting you (and/or other family members) is suffering from something that is broken within them. Their healing is also of paramount importance even though seeking help for them shouldn’t be your job. 

Where can I go if I’m in Sol or Thuli’s shoes?

Before you can actively begin doing anything about the situation you will need to be honest with yourself about the abuse you are experiencing and acknowledge the dangers involved in staying with a family memer who puts your safety at risk. Talking about it may be really difficult, especially if you’ve never spoken up before or the signs never showed, but it is important to talk to someone you trust will be your support structure as you navigate the situation so never feel ashamed to reach out for help. 

You may also want to take some time to consider whether you want to press charges against the abuser because if so, it would then be wise to keep records of the abuse. If it is physical, take images and keep records in a secret location. If the abuse is verbal, take screenshots of messages, or record the encounters for proof-keeping (It is important that you keep these safe and out of sight).

Keeping an emergency plan may be handy for unpredictable situations where you will have to make a quick escape. First, establish where you will go when it is time, and perhaps keep a spare phone with a selection of relevant emergency numbers. Also keep a bag packed that has essentials including as cash, identification papers, and pepper spray. Never tell the abuser that you are planning on leaving and keep the escape bag in a secret location.

Once you have removed yourself from the situation and feel like you are never going back, remember why you left in the first place. Bear in mind that they will contact you and try to convince you to come back to them. This is a form of manipulation and you do not owe your abuser a meet-up nor face-to-face interaction no matter how much you love and care about them.

Lastly, BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Seek to deal with the traumas and forgive yourself for allowing yourself to be in that situation. Keep in mind: Help is always available.

Remember, if you are ever in an abusive relationship and need to speak out, you can get in touch with our partners at Love Life who you can also reach by please call me on the following number: 083 323 1023.

We also have a list of resources for anybody looking for help here.


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