Soapie exposes abuse

DUMISANI of the soapie Generations has definitely lost control. He is a sleek man- about- town in the office and every girl wants to date him.

He is young, educated and has an enviable position as an advertising executive in a successful advertising agency. He is a fashionista and metro-sexual. But, this attractive package has a stain: a hot temper and violent tendency towards women. In this case, the woman is Khethiwe.

She is a country bumpkin who came to Johannesburg to live with her sister. When her sister died, Khethiwe started a catering and then a badge business.

She went on to become the face of la Chocolata and was drooled over by men of all shapes and sizes. Ambitious to a fault, she is studying graphic design after a slash across her face by Dumisani's sister-in-law abruptly ended her modelling career.

The couple have since been on a roller-coaster affair that has seen her beaten more than once.

Typical of abused women, she is deaf to people's advice, reluctant to seek help and determined to change Dumisani. She behaves like a lap dog ready to please, defend and even lie for her abusive man.

It's exciting that Generations has chosen to include this storyline because many women are beaten behind closed doors and are maimed or even killed.

Wendy Isaack, manager, legal services and advocacy programme at People Opposed to Women Abuse (Powa), says: "From the outset, when the abusive storyline between Khethiwe and Dumisani rolled out, we have received an influx of calls, enquiries and calls for help with legal and psycho-social support (counselling) thanks to Generations' wide audience.

"Abuse has no boundaries. It happens across class lines, including the middle class and the poor.

"At the moment, Powa is confined to Gauteng . With few service providers the government must ensure that they do not concentrate on urban centres only," Isaack said .

She said people can reach Powa on 011-642 4345.

According to Asiphe Ndlela, a psychologist, abusive men seem to think that there is a hidden meaning behind every woman's actions and words.

"They are always under the assumption that women are trying to influence them. Often, they suspect her of doing things that she is not guilty of and they are easily irritated by her, especially when she is in a good mood.

"These men may feel they love these women, but emotionally they do not 'like' them," Ndlela said.

The most important aspect of any relationship is mutual respect, she said.

"Unfortunately abusive men always strive to project themselves in a favourable light and put down their partners. They thrive on making her feel inferior in all things. The object is to tear her down to make her feel weak, insecure and co-dependent."

It is a double-edged sword. It is a no-win or a do-or-die situation. Women spend years trying to prove that they are not bad, but they are not heard.

Ways to spot an abusive man, by

l He has a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse and possibly violence.

l He has record of being arrested for domestic violence. Do your homework about him.

l He has a poor or no relationship with his mother or ex-partners.

l He speaks negatively about all his past relationships, blaming them always. If at all possible, try to speak to these women. If he bad mouths them, you may be next.

l He exhibits an over-bearing, aggressive personality. You may be attracted by his apparent confidence, strength, determination and aggressive personality - the kind of qualities you think you lack. However, this personality type can also be a red flag for abusive behavior.

l He talks at length, bragging about himself.

l He expects a big return on his venture. He may seem happy to put your needs and wishes first for a little while, but it will not be long before he throws it in your face by saying: "Look at everything I do for you. You owe me!"

l You catch him telling lies. There are certain areas of his life that he is not telling you about or is lying to you about because he may lose you.