Since the beginning of lockdown in South Africa there has been a huge outcry of Gender Based Violence and femicide. Despite these outcries, a lot of women did not come out to report the abuse they have endured from their partners. When you are a victim of abuse, fear is natural and understandable. It’s hard, but facing that fear and getting help will give you strength to remove yourself from abusive situations in the long run. Recently, a young woman who has found strength to speak out is a 24 year-old Sebenzile Nhlapo who was gruesomely assaulted by her ex-boyfriend during women’s month on the 29th of August because she ended their relationship.
According to Sebenzile, this was not the first time this kind of incident occurred in their relationship and she felt unsafe to be with someone who treats her like a punching bag. She is eternally grateful to have made it out of the relationship alive since many women did not live to tell the story and she aims to liberate other women from their abusive relationships.“I Thank God and My Ancestors that I survived and I came out alive in the Relationship as some of our Sisters, Mothers, Daughters didn’t make it, they can’t even speak for themselves and for those who are voiceless,” Said Sebenzile.However, this whole situation has made Sebenzile’s life very uncomfortable because the law did not deal with her perpetrator who lives not far from her home, hence she fears for her life. “I’m not happy with the assistance [I got from the police] since the perpetrator is still roaming the streets because he is out on bail and what scares me the most is that he’s not living far from where I’m staying, he can come and finish his Job,” Sebenzile disclosed in fear.
As a survivor of Gender Based Violence, Sebenzile is urging other women out there to be aware of the red flags in their relationships because GBV is real, and once a man shows that he is capable of hurting you, leave before it is too late.“GBV is real, we as women we go through it a lot, and we decide not to talk about it. We keep telling ourselves that he will change, so we are not safe at all we are killed every day by the people who we love and feel safe around, and what hurts the most is that our Justice systems fails us,” Sebenzile said.Despite being failed by the justice system, speaking out has brought Sebenzile a great relief and “it healed me and made me realize that I’m not alone in this pandemic.” Nonetheless, the mission is not accomplished as Sebenzile advises all women out there to make their safety a first priority. “We must learn to protect ourselves as women, we must go to self-defence classes, instead of having make-up in our bags, at least carry a pepper-spray, knife or a gun to be safe; enough is enough!” she urged