Abuse epidemic must be stopped

Domestic violence concept word cloud background.
Domestic violence Domestic violence concept word cloud background.
Image: 123RF/ lculig

Domestic violence is a frightening community epidemic that has lived in the shadows and privacy of homes.

As a society, we are rampant victim- blamers.

Unfortunately, perpetrators of domestic violence are often not arrested. Domestic violence comes with a stigma that makes it difficult for victims to speak up.

Victims are asked: "If things were that bad, why didn't you leave?"

We focus on everything we think the victim should be doing instead of holding the abuser accountable.

Domestic violence must be tackled in all its forms, because not only do you have a victim, primarily women, but where children witness this violence, then they too become victims.

Maybe it's time that our laws made domestic violence a stand-alone constitutional offence carrying a prison term, fine or both, with the perpetrator having to undergo compulsory anger management as part of his or her rehabilitation.

Tougher sentences will help deliver the message that society won't tolerate abusive relationships - but practical help is needed for victims while offenders may require more than a spell behind bars to alter their behaviour.

Sentencing guidelines should also clearly recognise the growth of domestic abuse perpetrated through technology - including e-mail, text messages and social networks.

Hiresh Ramthol

Sandton

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