Courage to love oneself helps us heal after bad relationships, writes Karishma Dipa.
There is hope for those abused women who fear leaving their violent partners because they have become financially dependent on them.
A recent study has found that 90 percent of women in similar situations were able to leave their abusive partners and become financially sufficient afterwards. The findings were based on a survey insurance company, 1st for Women, conducted through their foundation, which interviewed 100 domestic abuse survivors.
The results coincide with the Department of Justice estimates that one out of every four South African women are survivors of domestic violence.
The research concluded that abused women can find the strength and courage to leave abusive relationships and survive on their own, regardless of the specific time-frame in which they needed to do so.
This was as 31 percent of the abuse survivors interviewed said that it took up to a year to regain their confidence following an abusive relationship.
Others said it could take anywhere between three months and two years to take back control of their lives and enjoy the freedom that is rightfully theirs. “For some women, the decision to leave an abusive relationship is instantaneous while for others, it is one that is reached over time,” said Robyn Farrell, trustee of the 1st for Women Foundation.
The majority of the participants added that a strong support system helped them through their break-ups.
“Around 78 percent of the women surveyed left an abusive relationship thanks to the support of their mothers, friends or family,” said Farrell.
Although 52 percent of women believed that their life would be worse if they left their abusive partner, 30 percent of abuse survivors are now content with who they are.
Meanwhile, 32 percent said that they are finally the person they were always meant to be.
The steps the participants took to leave their abusive relationships varied from person to person. “Many left for the sake of their children, or ran away, leaving when the abusive partner wasn’t at home,” said Farrell.
“One respondent said that it was the realisation that no child should witness any disrespect or abuse to their mother and that it took a while but she became brave enough to walk out the door with her child in tow and said that it was the best decision she ever made.”
Another woman who participated in the survey said she worked on rebuilding her inner confidence while still in the relationship.
Farrell said this was as she found motivation from an article on abuse. This prompted her to start a positive and inspiring ritual. Each morning, she would look herself in the mirror, and recite the following mantra, ‘I love you and you deserve more because you are worthy of more.’
Farrell added that the most encouraging outcome of this survey was the willingness of women to share even their darkest moments to help other women get through similar abusive experiences.
The women who participated in the survey also offered practical advice to women in abusive relationships in the hopes of inspiring them to leave their abusive partners.
This included building a support system, researching safe houses, packing a bag with important documents and necessities and doing some legal preparations, such as keeping evidence of physical abuse like photos and police or hospital records.
“These should be kept with someone else like a family member to ensure they are never discovered by your partner,” said Farrell. A woman, who was not part of the study but also found the courage to leave her abusive husband, told The Star that it wasn’t easy but it was the best decision she made.
“It took me over three years to get back on my feet, find a job and look after our sons but with the help of my family, I have never been happier,” said the abuse survivor.