A few said they did not know these were incidents of abuse and were unaware there was help to get out of such situations.
Some made excuses for the abuser, covering up injuries so that no one would know.
One woman, when family members called the police, lied to the police that there was no problem.
Some blamed themselves, feeling that they had done something to bring on the abuse.
According to the report the women arrived at the shelters in a state of trauma.
They spoke of feeling scared, confused, angry, sad, overwhelmed.
Most of the women interviewed had not heard of shelters before.
Some women were so broken and bereft they did not feel worthy of support.
Others, on arriving at the shelter were overwhelmed by the physical comforts which they lacked in their homes.
A 31-year-old Western Cape woman said: “I did not feel worthy of the support, I did not know how to feel and how to feel safe. It was strange at first. I burst out in tears when I saw a bathroom cause where I came from there was no water to wash.”
“The interviews with the 101 women reveal clearly the importance of shelters in providing a refuge, a place for healing and emotional and psychological support when women experience violence at the hands of intimate partners, family members or when raped.
“The experiences of the women interviewed point to unacceptable levels of violence, akin to torture or wars, at the hands of the men they once loved and who were themselves once loving, and by families who are expected to love and nurture.
“Shelters provided critical emotional and psychological support for most of the women interviewed, enabling them to leave shelter after a period of two to seven months with a sense of hope that they could rebuild their lives,” the report stated.
“However the interviews also revealed ongoing challenges that made it difficult for women to build fulfilling, violence-free lives.
“A lack of education and skills to find secure employment, and precarious financial situations which do not allow women to access suitable housing being the major challenges.”