When I was in my teens, I witnessed my friend’s mom get slapped across the face so hard, by my friend’s dad, that I thought the woman would drop down dead. The exaggeration is not there to cause drama, yo. It really seemed that hard. The mom didn’t know that I had witnessed it.
I waited, with baited breath, wondering what her response would be. But, instead of crying, she literally picked herself up and carried on living her life, the sting of his giant man-hand still tingling away on her dainty cheek, as she prepared supper with a fake smile on her face. That’s the thing about abuse. If it doesn’t happen directly to you, then someone you know is being abused. Whether you’re aware of it or not.
Abuse is a sneaky, tricky little menace. For starters, it can make you (the victim) feel as if you deserve it. Or it can make you feel as if it’s actually not such a big deal and you need to stop being a pansy, suck it up and move on. Or, worst of all, it can let you believe that it won’t happen again.
But it probably will.
You know what I’m talking about right? I mean, if we look at physical and sexual abuse statistics, in South Africa, we’ll see that pretty much all of us have been exposed to some form of physical or sexual abuse.
Because the truth is this ya’ll:
– Abuse is not just physical. Mental and emotional abuse is a REAL thing.
– One in five South African women, older than 18, have experienced physical violence in their lifetimes.
– Femicide. Rape. Sexual assault. These are not just “ag shame” things that happen to other people.
– There are a reported 360 incidences of physical and sexual abuse against women in South Africa daily. 360 women per day. 360 bodies. 360 lives changed. Every day.
That’s 1 in 4 women, abused by her partner, every day. That’s a woman, killed by her current or former partner, every 6 hours.
If you’re a girl, you have the added responsibility of shouldering the pain of your sisters. We do this by creating an awareness around physical and sexual abuse against women.
We do this by NOT ALLOWING a man the power to disrespect our bodies… even if we believe that we love him. We do this by taking back our rights… by encouraging gender equality… by saying NO MORE.
We do this by not staying silent when we are aware of an abusive relationship – even if the perpetrator is a friend or family member! Making excuses for your son, brother, uncle, husband means you’re choosing his comfort over someone else’s pain. Covering up his abusive behavior, towards another woman, makes you an accomplice.
Raising boys have made me that much more aware of the type of influence we allow in their lives. Are my son’s treating girls with respect, or as if they are a piece of property… a commodity to be used? A lot of this is based on the type of music videos I allow them to watch, the series and sitcoms they consume and the type of conversation’s they hold with their friends at school. Are we doing right by our boys? And, an even bigger question: are we doing right by our girls?
What are you doing to commemorate Women’s Day, this year? I mean, besides for empowering and educating you and yours. Here are a bunch of websites that will give you more deets about events happening across the country: