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WOMEN gathered in the city yesterday to try to come up with solutions to fight gender-based violence, or the monster, as they described it.

The event, held at Pretoria Central police station, saw women get together for an intergenerational dialogue on gender-based violence. It was hosted by Kopano Manyano God The Founders Centre For Homeless.

Survivors of gender-based violence gave their testimony with the hope to get others to speak out.

Rose Matjila, a social worker, said women needed to stand together. “As women, I encourage you to stand against this monster called domestic violence. Let's start speaking out because women are being abused daily, but they are keeping quiet about it.”

Matjila said women also contributed to the abuse not stopping. “Women are also perpetrators because if another woman is being abused, we laugh about it instead of helping her. We need to start calling for help instead of gossiping about it.”

Eunice Hadebe, who dated an abusive partner for more than two years, urged attendees to leave toxic relationships while they still could. Her abuser, she said, was a decent, educated man.

Hadebe said she only stayed because she loved him, but would be beaten up whenever she threatened to leave him.

“My abuser was very educated and had a decent job. He had a Master's degree, so it is not done by uneducated people only. I cleaned and cooked for him, but he never treated me with respect. He cheated on me with about five women during our relationship, but would tell me he loved me."

Hadebe recalled being punched and strangled by her partner for merely confronting him about cheating.

Another victim, who did not want to be named, told the Pretoria News that she and other congregants from a church in Soshanguve were sexually abused by their pastor. “He'd preach about not having sex before marriage, but he was forcing me to sleep with him without using protection.”

Only after she shared her story during a church service did other women start coming out as well, she said.