Breaking the Myth of Gender-based
Violence By Paula Quinsee
Whether we want to admit it or not , gender-based violence ( GBV ) and domestic abuse happen on a daily basis in homes , communities and businesses around us . The COVID pandemic has just put a spotlight on this , due to the spike in both divorce and GBV stats globally as a result of being in lockdown . We can no longer ignore this other silent , often violent killer , and the destruction it causes to individuals , families and communities .
The unfortunate thing about domestic abuse or GBV is that it is often associated with physical violence or rape , and the impact on victims of these traumatic experiences , but the other forms of abuse are seldom spoken about , namely psychological abuse , verbal abuse , emotional abuse and financial abuse . GBV is also often only associated with male-on-female abuse , but very little is spoken about the female-on-male or LGBTQI abuse that takes place in homes and communities , too .
Another seldom spoken about area of abuse is that which happens within organisational or company walls , such as bullying , sexual harassment , inappropriate behaviour , abusing a position of power or authority , and underlying threats of jobloss or career progression , etc . Meanwhile , with many employees working from home these days , companies are starting to be exposed to the reality that some of their employees are not safe at home . It ’ s a complex situation trying to work out where the responsibilities lie … with the employee and their home situation , or the employers requirement that they work from home ? And it begs the question what resources employees and employers have in place to support employees to be able to operate in a safe working environment , both at work and at home .
This can all have a severe impact on work deliverables , productivity and mental health . According to a 2014 study , GBV costs South Africa between R28.4bn and R42.4bn a year , or between 0.9 % and 1.3 % of the country ’ s annual GDP annually , which is , sadly , in line with global GBV estimates .
Trying to Find Solutions
If there were no perpetrators , there would be no victims . If we want to eradicate GBV , then it needs to start in our homes , which is where our first exposure of being in a relationship is established , through our primary caregivers or parents . We learn from them what it looks and feels like to be in a relationship . We model our behaviour on theirs , on how they engage , respond and react in their relationship , and this is where our emotional foundation is formed .
It is in our childhood that we learn about communication , affection , emotional safety , trust , dealing with conflict , relationship dynamics , connection , reactivity , defensive behaviours , vulnerability , values , beliefs , attitudes and more . As we grow and evolve through childhood , there are various other factors that can contribute to shaping a person , such as the environment we are continuously exposed to , and where we learn what kind of behaviour is acceptable and not acceptable , based on what is rewarded or the consequences thereof .
The reality is that we are not born abusers , we become abusers ( unless there is a deeper psychological cause , e . g . a psychopath ). We are not born victims , we become victims . Abuse is a learnt behaviour , it is a choice to abuse , and the behaviour can be changed if the abuser is willing to take responsibility for their behaviour and make sustainable changes . Often the underlying cause of violence is anger , and violence is the only way abusers know how to resolve ( express ) their anger , but what ’ s often underlying the anger is unresolved hurt and pain – and this is what needs to be addressed , often through therapy and healing .
South Africa has the highest rate of rape in the world , at 132.4 incidents per 100,000 people annually . Although the Parliament of South Africa attempted to amend and strengthen all sexual violence laws with the Criminal Law ( Sexual Offences and Related Matters ) Amendment Act in 2007 , the rates of reported rape , sexual abuse of children , and domestic violence have continued to rise .
We can no longer ignore this pandemic . It needs to be a part of our everyday conversations , not just when someone falls prey to GBV or it happens to be a national day or event marked in the calendar . By cultivating a speak up vs shut up culture in our homes , communities and organisations , we will be able to remove the stigma , the social conditioning and the labels , making it OK for victims and perpetrators to speak up , get the help they need , and start the healing process to end GBV .
Paula Quinsee is a relationship and life coach , Tedx speaker and author of Embracing Conflict and Embracing No . She is a passionate advocate for healthy relationships and personal transformation , and works with both individuals and companies to better understand relationship patterns , communication and conflict styles , emotional behaviours and traits , and how to have healthier human interactions in both our personal and workplace worlds . More info at www . paulaquinsee . com .
56 ISSUE 143 JULY 2021 / www . modernathlete . co . za