Expert tips on how to spot signs of abuse and how to get out

Women in abusive relationships should seek help and know when and how to leave.
Women in abusive relationships should seek help and know when and how to leave.
Image: 123RF

As we continue the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, it is important to note that while this is a worthwhile initiative, our country still has a long way to go in eradicating violence against women and children.

With social media movements like #AmINext and#NationalShutDown, it’s become even more glaring that gender-based violence is a problem in SA. The 2018/2019 crime statistics show that over the last year, 21,002 people were murdered across the country and that the second most common cause of murder was domestic violence.

Furthermore, 2017/2018 data from the SAPS shows that a woman is murdered every three hours in SA. Globally, our statistics are more chilling; SA had the fourth highest female interpersonal violence death rate.

Since most incidents of GBV occur in intimate relationships, Nompumelelo Mbatha, a social worker at People Opposing Woman Abuse, spoke to Sowetan S Mag about the signs of an abusive relationship and how women can leave such relationships.

According to Mbatha, these are some of the key signs of an abusive relationship:

● Controlling – All your movements will be controlled and must be reported to your partner;

●Pull her down syndrome –your partner will put down everything you do including cooking or planning to further your studies;

● Jealousy – your partner would not expect you to be successful. He will always expect you to rely on him;

● Isolation – your partner can isolate you from friends and family and you’ll only depend on him. It will be difficult to contact family and friends in difficult times; and

● Worthlessness – blaming yourself for the problems in the relationship and wanting to give up on life because you don’t have hope for change.

What steps should women take to get out of abusive relationships?

“The first step is to realise that you’re in an abusive relationship; the forms of abuse are emotional, financial, sexual and physical abuse. Realise that you’re not at fault; women must not make excuses for the abuser saying she was nagging and that is why she was beaten up.

“Document everything, open a case, get a doctor’s report as proof or the J88 form or apply for a protection order,” says Mbatha.

The J88 form serves as a crucial piece of medical evidence. It is an official form issued by the department of justice which documents the medico-legal examination that the healthcare practitioner performs on a victim and highlights findings that are potentially relevant for legal purposes.

“Pack an emergency bag as abuse can occur any time, it must include clothing, toiletries and important documents. Alert friends and family, stay in contact with the important people in your life.”

If you need help, call: POWA on 011-642-4345 or visit:; LoveLife SA on 011-523-1000; or