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Domestic violence continues to be a huge concern in South Africa and beyond. A study by Vodafone Foundation that surveyed 4,715 working men and women across 9 countries (including South Africa) found that 1 in 3 people had experienced domestic abuse. This affects not only their home life but their work life too.
Vodacom strongly encourages female empowerment and, as such, has created initiatives such as Vodacom’s Employee Assistance Programme to provide aid to those who need it. Beyond accessing these programmes for assistance, as a victim of gender violence, there are additional steps you can take to protect yourself. Note that taking these precautions does not mean living in fear or giving power to your abuser. It is about protecting yourself and being aware of potentially dangerous situations.
Here are 5 measures you can take right now to empower yourself.
- Keep your cellphone at hand at all times and save emergency numbers where they are easy to find so you can reach out immediately if you find yourself in a dangerous situation.
- Establish a safe location, in case you need somewhere to stay. This can be at a relative’s or friend’s home. Alternatively, there are shelters that can provide not only a place to stay but also a support network.
- Be cautious when using your cellphone or computer. Your abuser might try to track your movements through social media and emails. Don’t share personal information, such as your location – this goes for everyone as online stalking is a serious problem in our digital age.
- Keep a packed bag in a secure location – ideally at a friend or family member’s home. This should include money, clothes, important documents such as your ID and anything else you would need if you had to vacate your house on short notice.
- Keep any evidence, such as photos, of the abuse.
Remember, if you need support, Vodacom’s Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Command Centre is available 24/7. You can phone them toll-free on 0800 428 428 or send a Please Call Me to *120*7867#. Members of the deaf community can Skype the contact ‘Helpme GBV’, and people with a hearing impediment can SMS ‘Help’ to 31531.