What Does Domestic Abuse Look Like?

It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive. Regardless of whether it is physical, emotional or takes some other form, abuse often follows an escalating pattern in which the controlling behaviors worsen over time.

Physical Abuse

Involves physical harm or injury to the body. Including through the use of weapons. Typically the abuse is ongoing & becomes progressively worse.

Emotional, Verbal & Psychological Abuse

Often subtle & in some cases, survivors son’t recognise that they are being abused. This kind of abuse will wear survivors down, often over a long period of time, until they take responsibility for their abuser’s actions & behaviours towards them, or simply accept it. The impact of psychological abuse is often deeper and longer lasting than physical abuse, it is known as the silent killer; very often there is no physical evidence, although survivors express feelings of guilt, depression, helplessness and low self-worth similar to when physical violence is experienced.

Sexual Abuse

Any situation in which someone is forced to participate in unwanted, unsafe or degrading sexual activity. Even when it’s with a partner with whom one is in love, sex or any sexual acts must be consensual and if it is not consented to, it is sexual abuse. This type of violence is especially traumatic for survivors and carries an increased risk of HIV transmission. This form of abuse is at times preceeded by physical violence in domestic settings.

Economic Abuse

This occurs when the perpetrator denies the victim access to or knowledge about the family finances or other resources to limit decision-making power. Physical and emotional abuse may follow.

Spiritual or Cultural Abuse

Occurs when the victim is denied the right to pursue religious, spiritual and cultural activities or when other forms of abuse are justified as cultured tradition or acts supported by religious beliefs.

Important Numbers

Abuse Helpline0800 150 150
Rape Crisis 24hr Line021 447 9762
Simelela Rape Centre, Khayelitsha021 361 0543
Lifeline0800 05 55 55
Flying Squad SAPS1 0111
Emergency Contraception Hotline0800 24 64 32 WC
Network on Violence Against Women021 633 5287
Thuthuzela Rape Centre021 690 1103
Human Trafficking Hotline0800 55 59 99
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