The Amanzimtoti Trauma Unit (ATU) focuses on a variety of issues concerning our community, such as crisis intervention, preventative programmes and awareness campaigns.
Services provided by ATU includes:
- Family Therapy
- Safe House / Accommodation for victims of domestic violence
- Practical Support
- Establishment of support groups where required
- Trauma intervention and crisis management
- Trauma Debriefing, referrals and networking with other organisations
- Identifying issues around domestic violence and ways in which women can empower themselves is key in overcoming the cycle of abuse.
- The bottom line is that abusive behaviour is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.
- Domestic violence and abuse does not discriminate. It happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels. While women are most commonly victimized, men are also abused—especially verbally and emotionally, although sometimes even physically.
- The South African statistics indicates that 1 in 4 women in our communities are abused in one form or another.
The world of abusive relationships is deeply rooted in today’s society and is readily expected as the norm. Those suffering at the hands of the abuser often feel incredibly alone, isolated, very often mistrusting others as their confidence in their own abilities has been tarnished.
Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical.
Firstly let’s consider what is a domestic relationship?
You can have a domestic relationship with someone whom you are or were married to; your parents or guardian; any family member; including your own children; anyone you have lived with, whether you were married to that person or not; someone you went out with – even just for a short time; or someone with whom you share a child.
Domestic violence is often thought to only include physical violence, but the acts, behaviour and consequences that make up domestic violence vary in nature and frequency.
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence falls into 3 main categories:
- Physical abuse or assault for example, slapping, biting, kicking or threats of physical violence, damage to property or anything you value, stalking, sexual abuse or molestation – whether you are married to the other person or not.
- Emotional abuse such as degrading or humiliating behaviour, including repeated insults, belittling, name calling, swearing and threats, Pressure tactics such as manipulation, isolation any other controlling or abusive behaviour which poses a threat to your safety, health or well-being, using weapons to frighten or threaten you.
- Economic Abuse, that is, when the other person keeps money to which you are legally entitled from you in an unreasonable manner by refusing to pay or share the rent or mortgage bond for the home you share; or disposing of any property (household goods) in which you have interest, without your permission.
The cycle of violence in domestic abuse
Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence:
- Abuse – Your abusive partner lashes out with aggressive, belittling, or violent behaviour. The abuse is a power play designed to show you “who is boss.”
- Guilt – After abusing you, your partner feels guilt, but not over what he’s done. He’s more worried about the possibility of being caught and facing consequences for his abusive behaviour.
- Excuses – Your abuser rationalizes what he or she has done. The person may come up with a string of excuses or blame you for the abusive behaviour—anything to avoid taking responsibility.
- “Normal” behaviour – The abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.
- Fantasy and planning – Your abuser begins to fantasize about abusing you again. He spends a lot of time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how he’ll make you pay. Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.
- Set-up – Your abuser sets you up and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where he can justify abusing you.
- Apply for a protection order at the nearest police station or magistrate’s court, or
- Lay a criminal charge at the police station and apply for a protection order
- Identify places you can use a telephone quickly and easily.
- Always carry a list of emergency numbers with you.
- Make sure that the people you usually visit have a copy of the protection order including a copy of the warrant of arrest.
- Put some money in a safe place so that you can take a taxi or a bus in a case of emergency.
- Have extra set of keys for the house or car.
- If possible, have a set of clothes for yourself (and your children) packed in a bag, and keep it in a safe place if you need to escape the abuse.
- We also suggest that you make sure that you are in possession of essential documents like ID’s your medical aid card, and your savings/credit card.
- Ask if something is wrong
- Express concern
- Listen and validate
- Offer help
- Support his or her decisions
- Wait for him or her to come to you
- Judge or blame
- Pressure him or her
- Give advice
- Place conditions on your support
Your abuser’s apologies and loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. He may make you believe that you are the only person who can help him, that things will be different this time, and that he truly loves you. However, the dangers of staying are very real.
We are the ATU believe that victims need to know their options as they have a right to protection.
If you are in an abuse relationship, we urge you to work on a crisis plan by:
Recognising and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship are the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you (or someone you know) can identify with the above warning signs and descriptions of abuse, reach out and help or refer them to us.
Speak up if you suspect domestic violence or abuse
If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating—telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it—keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life.
Do’s and Don’ts
Our number 031 903 7777 emergency support is available 24/7