Domestic violence and rape victims are still afraid to report cases to get help, and those who report them, they do it with full of doubt, GRIP.
Speaking to a social worker at Greater Rape Intervention Programme, Thandiwe Maseko, said they are still facing the challenge of women who are afraid to come out of the closet about rape and abuse.
She said most women prefer to live under abuse until things get worse and some normally survive.
Maseko explained that some victims do come out of the closet is always filled with doubt, such as “what if I report him and he goes to jail, what is going to happen when he comes back?”
She further added that most women are still filled with fear because the abuse is not only physical but also emotional too; they are constantly told that they are nothing and they are called by terrible names.
“We still have a great work to do in our communities for women and children to come out to report these issues. Most of our women are afraid to report such cases. They would rather stay in an abusive relationship than to come out and get assistance because of the fear that their partners have instilled in them,” said Maseko.
Maseko said the past few months the country has witnessed an increase in domestic violence, rape, and murder, she added that the organisation decided to take a stand and conducted door to door campaigns which made people aware of their services.
She mentioned that still, not everyone would come out but at least they know that GRIP is there to service them whenever they are in need.
Neighbours become helpful sometimes because they are the one who mostly come to us and report the issues that they see. In most cases, families still prefer to solve such issues within them and as a result, it never stops.
“When we conduct door to door campaign we see a lot of positive outcomes, even if the people do not break the silence instantly but at least they know what we are for and that we are available for them at any point. We have great social workers that victims will find comfortable to talk to,” she added.
Maseko explained that children between 3 and 7 are also some of the most victimised. Also included are the teenagers between 14 and 16 and also adults who are above 30.
She added that teenagers are normally abused by their boyfriends while adults who are victims are mostly the people who stay on farms.
Furthermore, she added that it is important for parents to know and monitor their children and if they notice something unusual they should go straight to the police station because the first 72 hours of rape are important for the investigation.
“Know your kids, sometimes kids act strangely as parents you need to know the changes in your child’s behavior. Take to her about everything includes not talking to strangers. Call a spade a spade, tell your kids that if someone touches you here run and come tell me, there is no time to hide things from kids anymore,” she added.
Grip further assists victims with counseling, transferable skills and if they have qualifications to assist to find employment. They have 23 care rooms in Mpumalanga, 18 in police stations and five in hospital.
A 16-year-old rape victim, who requested to remain anonymous, said she was raped by her uncle and it only took her two years to talk about it to the family and when she did nobody believed her, they all took the uncle’s side. She explained that what hurt her so much is that she never got counseling and every time when she seeing the uncle she is reminded of the day like it was yesterday.
“I don’t think I will ever trust any man in my life, I see my uncle living a normal life while I’m drowning in depression. When I finally talked about the rape I thought at least one person would believe me but they believe my uncle. Sometimes I feel like I can be alone because in this world nobody cares. She added that her family advised her not to open a case because it will tear the family apart,” she added.
Mpumalanga police spokesperson Sergeant Gerald Sedibe said community members are encouraged to report the rape to their nearest police station. He added that the police do not condone any form of abuse, be it domestic violence, rape, assaults amongst others.
“We do not condone abuse in our community, whether the perpetrator is your family member or friend, you are all encouraged to report it. We can all work together to end abuse in our homes and communities by doing the right thing,” he added.