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Domestic violence haunts survivors

2021-01-14  Eveline de Klerk

Domestic violence haunts survivors

WALVIS BAY - A woman, who four years ago survived a murder attempt at the hands of her former abusive partner, says she has never fully recovered from the ordeal.

In an interview with New Era, the woman, who humbly requested anonymity, said she was constantly reminded about her ordeal every time a woman dies due to gender-based violence.
The survivor, who has since moved from Windhoek to the coast as part of her healing process, said her family and friends often say that she is one of the lucky ones who survived.

“Honestly, I don’t feel lucky at all. Yes, I survived, but I have been struggling to live a normal life, but I simply cannot. 
I live in constant fear and suffer from anxiety and depression,” she explained.
According to her, she was shot in her abdomen twice by her former boyfriend when she tried to end their relationship. 
 She said he was unemployed when they met.  

“The emotional abuse was too much and on top of that I was the only one responsible for our bills and his car repayment to an extent that I could not take the stress that came along with it,” she said.
Another survivor of domestic violence - Angela Awaries – said the actions of her former partner has clouded her judgment on men overall.
The single mother of two sons, whose father is currently serving a jail term for killing a woman he had previously dated, said the incident completely changed her perceptions about men.

“I have developed a complete mistrust in men overall. Maybe because it happened close to me or the fact that it could have been me, had scared me,” she said.
Awaries added she has not been dating ever since as she simply wants to see her children grow up and wants to be around for them as long as she can.

“This was indeed a personal decision. Maybe I will return to the dating game but for now, I just want to focus on my mental health and that of my children,” Awaries said.
Both women are currently receiving counselling.
According to Dr Saltiel Kalola, the founder of the African Counsellors Social Development Association (ACSDA), it is normal for survivors of domestic violence to react this way.

“Such experiences are life altering, not only because they bear scars, but the emotional trauma they went through as it might have happened over time,” he said.
He added domestic violence, especially when someone was on the brink of death, could be a very traumatic experience.
He said the importance of counselling should never be underestimated as it plays a pivotal role in a survivors healing process.
“Yes, some people might think they are okay and don’t need it, but traumatic experience has a way of catching up with you after some time if you don’t address it,” he said.

Kalola also explained it is not a shame to seek for help whether you are a man or a woman.
“Such trauma can also not be dealt with in one session and people who have been through such traumatic experience should also give themselves time to process it. Most importantly, it is advisable to seek help as it can influence future relationships that you might have,” Kalola explained.

ACSDA is a non-governmental organisation that was started in April 2018 and operates in Erongo, Khomas, Omusati and Hardap regions. The organisation provides psychological and physio-social support to address social and emotional challenges among residents.

2021-01-14  Eveline de Klerk

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