Whilst it was a pleasure for me to be at the worldwide launch of the rAInbow artificial intelligence platform, which took place in South Africa just over a week ago, it was also despondent to know that South Africa is on top of the list when it comes to reported cases of domestic violence.
As you may be aware or not, the 25th of November is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, it is also the first day of the 16 Days of Activism of Gender-based violence. The UN’s theme for this year is ORANGE THE WORLD: #HearMeToo
In light of the above, I have partnered with Desirae Pillay, who blogs at A Million Beautiful Pieces, to highlight topics around domestic violence, in an attempt to create more awareness about the fact that it is not okay to say, “I am fine” and that one can seek help and start by saying, “I am NOT fine.”
Before I go into more detail, let’s talk about what domestic violence is exactly. Many people think that domestic violence relates to physical violence only, but there is so much more to domestic violence, it doesn’t stop at physical harm.
The following acts constitute of domestic violence:
It starts off playfully with a small smack, it all seems innocent and you laugh it off. The smack becomes a slap. Then one day, you feel your arm being pulled forcefully and you can’t set yourself free. From punches to kicks, to biting and to being pushed around, you’ve become a doormat.
Physical violence occurs when deliberate harm is done to someone to cause injury to their body, either with or without the use of an object.
Do you know that physical violence also includes depriving someone of their basic rights such as sleep, which is required to maintain their physical health?
If you are being forced to consume alcohol or take drugs against your will, this too is considered as physical violence as your freedom of choice is being violated.
Any sexual act, done against your will, is an act of aggression and a violation of your integrity. Even if you are married or in a committed relationship, if you do not consent to any sexual activity and it is forced upon you, this is considered as sexual abuse/sexual violence.
Just because you have engaged in consensual sexual activities with this person before, doesn’t give that person the right to “take it from you” when you don’t want to. There is such a thing as marital rape, believe it or not, and its more common than most people realise. It’s NOT okay! It’s not okay for your husband/partner to force themselves on you!
It starts off as a small favour. Then another favour and another. “oh, let me lend him this money, I love him and he loves me, after all, it’s just money and he will pay me back,” and you console yourself with this self-talk every time.
You were once in control. You were financially independent. Now you’re beginning to watch your bank balance go down whilst your stress levels rise, because you’re constantly “helping” this person out financially and why?
Financial abuse occurs when a person’s finances are being exploited, to benefit the abuser. The abuser may sometimes even control the money… the money that YOU earn. The abuser is self-absorbed and makes financial decisions about your money, for himself. You end up giving up on your dreams because you are so busy feeding the desires of the financial abuser. The financial abuser may most likely even make you take out loans, creating debt and more stress as a result of the debt.
The abuser is so manipulative that at first and even right until the end, you don’t even realise you’re being emotionally abused. Other people around you see it and mention it, but you think that they’re jealous and trying to “break” your relationship. Well, that’s exactly what you were coerced into believing from the emotional abuser.
He will tell you exactly what you want to hear and the next moment he will tell you things that may embarrass you, sometimes even in front of other people. He will put you down. He will use emotional blackmail. He will keep you away from friends and family. Whether you like it or not, he has you wrapped around his little finger, you’re like his puppet on a string. You want that string to cut because you suffer in silence. You secretly wish that it would have been better if you were physically abused cos that would hurt less than the words that trigger your heart to break into a million pieces.
There are other types of abuse as well, but I wanted to elaborate on those that I’ve mentioned as I am more familiar with them. You may or may not know this about me, but I am a survivor of abuse. For many years, during and after, I used to think and believe that I was a victim of abuse. The day I rose was the day I changed my paradigm and saw myself and still do see myself as a survivor, not a victim of abuse.
You see, when you think of yourself as a victim, you adapt to having a victim mentality – one where you feel sorry for yourself. “oh, why is this happening to me and only to me, why have I allowed this again? You have those kinds of thoughts in your mind. But when you become the victor, you tell yourself, “ENOUGH!”
“No more of this!” You want your sense of identity back and you do whatever it takes to get it back. You don’t look back, you look forward. You stop feeling sorry for yourself and you use the hurt, the pain and the suffering to inspire yourself and others to move forward instead.
Dear readers, this isn’t just some motivational post, this is my motivation for you, this is me, this is part of my story and over the next few weeks, whilst the world focusses on 16 days of activism against violence of women and children, Desirae and I will be sharing our thoughts and some of our experiences around these topics.
Why? You may ask…because we have been there and we know what it feels like. We also thought that it would never end. We felt afraid and humiliated to speak up and to ask for help. We suffered in silence. We do not want any other woman or child to experience that.
We hope that through these posts and a series of videos on our social media platforms, that we can inspire anyone who is going through something similar, to have the courage to take a stand, to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, to know that it is okay to say, “I am NOT fine.”
Domestic Violence: How rAInbow can help
Here’s a video I made with more details on rAInbow. rAInbow can be used to get some guidelines on how to seek help and who or where to turn to.
I now encourage you to share this and do ask anyone you suspect or know of, that is experiencing any sort of abuse, to follow our stories and to chat to rAInbow.
If you want to do something to assist to help break the silence, Desirae and/or I am available to do Motivational talks and to share our stories with the women in your team, at big or small organisations, to help inspire them to break the silence.
Our Contact Details:
E-mail Desirae to make an enquiry