We’ve got your back
We’ve got your back
Parent24 Editor, Scott Dunlop

I’m not sure how much time you have to keep up with the news, but you’ve probably been as shocked as me at the death of Reeva Steenkamp. I’m horrified by the stats being thrown around about domestic violence- including one which says that over 2 000 women in SA die annually at the hands of their intimate partners. There are way too many incidents of entire families being killed, usually by a male family member.

What does that have to do with parenting, you may be wondering. Well, there’s a chance that someone you know may be dealing with abuse, and keeping quiet: a victim of it is just as likely to stay with an abuser, and you could be friends with someone who is living that horror daily.

Maybe it’s you.

You could be the person who has made too many excuses for an abusive partner, or had to lie to your kids or lock their bedroom doors in order to shield them from it. You might be concealing bruises with makeup or avoiding your friends. There are no quick fixes for damaged relationships, but if you, a friend or neighbour is trapped in this cycle, please consider the following:

  • Find a lawyer: There are lawyers who provide a service for abused women and children for free. If your situation means that your financial status could be affected if you leave your partner, there are NPOs which provide short-term places of safety, too.
  • Get a court order: This can include provisions which would protect any vulnerable children- you don’t have to abandon them to an environment which may present risks.
  • Tell someone whom you trust: Children should not be asked to keep quiet about threats to their safety or the safety of a parent.
  • If you suspect that a firearm in the home presents a threat as it could be used against you, insist that it is removed from the home or hand it in at a local police station.
  • Press charges: As difficult as this may be, it could save your life. Consult an organisation with experience in this to find out the safest way to do it. Do this as soon as possible, especially after an incident involving violence.
  • Don’t accept excuses from or make them for an abusive partner.

One of the reasons women stay with an abuser is in order to protect their children, but children exposed to domestic violence may experience trauma as well as develop life-long emotional difficulties. Taking responsibility for them is a priority, so it is better to remove the child from the situation rather than try and protect them from within it.

You have the right to a safe domestic environment for yourself and your children.

For all of you in happy, loving families, that’s wonderful! I hope that your children learn from your relationships and grow to become loving adults, too.

Let’s keep looking out for each other.

On a gentler note: Why not tell us your most loving family moment- Just drop as an email at chatback@parent24.com and you could win a R250 kalahari.com voucher.

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