As discussed in our last article, gender based violence presents itself in a number of ways, some of which are subtly veiled. In order to stop the scourge of this war on women and children, it’s important for us to learn how to spot warning signs, and to unpack behaviors that may seem normal, but are actually problematic at the core. Understanding the nuances of gender based violence not only aids in support for those affected, but it will assist with stopping this behaviour in its tracks.
Gender based violence is more than physical harm, it includes sexual, psychological and financial violence too. Unless the individual tells you directly, the latter are notoriously difficult to spot. Identifying signs of abuse is also very layered. Not only do you need to analyse the perpetrators behaviour, but you also have to analyse the behaviour of the person you want to help. Here are some telltale signs according to Marie Stopes South Africa:
- S/he appears afraid of their partner or is always very anxious to please him or her.
- S/he has stopped seeing friends or family, or cuts phone conversations short when the partner is in the room.
- Their partner criticises or humiliates them in front of others.
- Their partner forces or pressures them to perform sexual acts.
- Their partner often makes the decisions.
- S/he often talks about their partner’s ‘jealousy’, ‘bad temper’ or ‘possessiveness’.
- S/he has become anxious or depressed, has lost confidence, or is unusually quiet.
- S/he has physical injuries (such as bruises, broken bones, sprains, cuts and so forth) with unlikely explanations for these injuries.
- In the case of children: they seem afraid, display behavioural problems, or are noticeably withdrawn or anxious.
In some circumstances, it may be too dangerous to intervene directly. If this is the case, you can tip off the police anonymously by calling 08600 10111. You can also use Spottem to report an incident on behalf of someone who may be in danger by simply changing your location settings to theirs. It’s imperative that you receive the affected individual’s permission before taking any of these steps.