In honour of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, two brave survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) who are currently living in a place of safety have shared their stories:

*Daisy wrote, “I am a 35-year-old woman who endured GBV at the hands of someone I wanted to build a life with – my partner, who I loved. It started off as being sworn at and hit once a week. It eventually escalated to being strangled and sexually abused. The strain of the abuse led to me having a still born baby when I was 27 weeks pregnant. I tolerated all this pain and suffering. I thought that things would change, that he would change, but it didn’t. I could see myself dying at the hands of this man. I was locked up 24/7. I was kept away from the outside world and expected to be available for his pleasure. During these horrible times, I never gave up hope that I would survive. I ran the first chance I got and since then I haven’t looked back.  

I am currently in a safe place where I feel loved and cared for. Even though I don’t have my own children here with me, I strongly believe that I will be reconciled with them again. To others who find themselves in the position that I was in, I want to say that when it feels like the walls are closing in on you and there is no way out, do not give up.”

*Linda wrote, “I was abused. Mentally, physically, emotionally. I did drugs to cope. I would leave, and then end up going back. Giving hope to a hopeless situation. The parts of me that I refused to give, he would simply take. Always reminding me of my worthlessness, my stupidity, and blaming me for all of it. Fear was my best friend. But my will to live was stronger than his words or his fists. So I left again, one last time, for good. I am now safe. My son and I are a family of two. His laughter is now much louder than my cries. I am a work in progress. I’m healing. I have faith and believe that I am beautiful. I have a job and I’m working towards a better future.

Never let anyone make you feel like you are less than what you are worth. And if they do, leave. There is help. It might not be easy, but it is worth it. You are worth it.”

If you are a victim of GBV, contact LifeAssist to find out what options are available to you. All calls are handled confidentially by professional counsellors.

*Names changed to protect privacy

Sources: St Anne’s Home, Cape Town