A 16-day annual awareness campaign pulls out all the stops to empower South Africans to take a stand against the abuse of women and children.
He fastened a tie around my neck then pushed my face into a bowl full of water so that I would suffocate. After a few seconds, he pulled my face out and slapped me.”
These are the heart-breaking words of domestic violence survivor Mara Glennie (65) from Johannesburg.
Glennie shared her story of how she survived domestic violence at the hands of her husband of 19 years.
“It was a 10-year journey through counselling, and friends who supported me, that got me to where I am today,” she said, adding that despite the eroding abuse she suffered, she is able to not only get up, get dressed and show up every day, but has reached out to others who have been victims of abuse.
Over the years, she was verbally and sexually abused but did not leave her husband because of misplaced loyalty and love. “I couldn’t tell my family what was happening behind closed doors as they deemed my marriage to be ‘perfect’.”
After years of abuse, the realisation that her husband was cheating on her and that her marriage was based on lies finally prompted her to leave. Her husband attempted to apologise to her, but became even more vicious when she rejected his apology.
He physically assaulted her and she reported the incident to the police.
After a few weeks, she filed for divorce and moved back to George in the Western Cape to be closer to her family.
“At that time, I needed to be surrounded by people who love me.”
She emphasised that in such situations victims really need the support of family members and friends.
With their help and support, she regained her confidence and returned to Johannesburg where she started TEARS, a non-profit organisation that provides support for rape and sexual abuse survivors.
From 25 November until 10 December, South Africa acknowledges 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, which is also an international awareness campaign.
Glennie said through her non-profit organisation, she hopes to increase awareness about domestic violence and also assist victims of abuse.
“I feel fulfilled knowing that I am making a difference,” she said.
To report domestic violence call:
- SAPS Crime Stop on 08600 10 111
- The Department of Social Development 24-hour Command Centre: 0800 428 428 (toll-free) ñ callers can speak to a social worker for assistance and counselling.
*Dineo Mrali works for the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.