Red Cross Hospital: 16 days of Activism

What would you give to end violence against women and children? I visited Red Cross Hospital recently and learned about how we can make a difference as we approach the 16 days of Activism.

There is an element of violence that permeates our society. You can barely avoid it as you scroll through your social media time lines or accidentally catch a glimpse of it on the news. While you may try and avoid it, or ignore it if it does catch your eye, the reality is that there are people from all walks of life who find it unavoidable.

Violence is violence. Essentially the victim finds themselves in a situation they had no intention of being in. No one goes out looking to be hurt. You may feel the need to judge and criticise women who stay with their abusers. “Why don’t they just leave?”, you may ask. There are programmes they can make contact with to help them. “How can they allow that to happen to their child?”

But just because that has never been your life, it doesn’t mean that you have the right to judge. Let’s just come to terms with the fact that we have NO IDEA. Violence also doesn’t restrict itself to the a particular income group. Sure, the news stories may pick up on the poor and destitute, usually because the violence has become a “court worthy crime” but just because abuse is more well hidden among the rich, it doesn’t imply that it doesn’t exist.

Red Cross Hospital: 16 days of Activism

Anyone who has found themselves in a domestic violence situation will tell you that when they first started seeing their partner, there was no indication that this person would hurt them. Everyone is on their best behaviour in the beginning of the relationship. The abuse may start out as something relatively small and subtle. And, when you are in the blush of those early days, you often don’t see the warning signs until it is too late.

Whether we ourselves find ourselves in this situation or whether it happens to someone we know and love, we may feel powerless to stop it. How can you help? What can you do? Well, let’s start here:

Believe – you have no idea how hard it is to confide in someone that you need help. If you are that someone, listen! Abusers often don’t look like abusers. The abuser could be “the nicest person you’ve ever met” but you have NO IDEA what goes on behind closed doors.

Help – don’t shrug your shoulders and look away. How would you feel if this happened to your friend, sibling or child? Get involved and do whatever you can to improve the situation. If that means offering a spare bed or couch so that the victim can have a safe place to stay, do that.

Donate – so you don’t feel like you can help or you are fortunate enough to not know someone who needs your hands-on assistance. There are so many community outreach programmes or hospitals that could do with financial assistance. Their resources are often stretched to the breaking point and your R10 or R10k can make a difference to the lives of those who need it. If you don’t have money to donate, how about donating your time. Do some research and find out where you can volunteer. Even just giving a staff member a much needed few hours off can help to ensure that they can keep doing what they do every day. Click here to donate to the Red Cross Children’s Trust.

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