Abuse survivors shared harrowing stories at an event held in Table View to mark the start of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign.
It was organised by Table View SAPS and Table View Community Police Forum at Kingsgate Fellowship Church, but the day began with a 1.5 km march from the police station to the church.
Nearly 200 people who were part of the march crammed into the church to hear from survivors of abuse.
A woman spoke about how a close family member had molested her from a young age.
When she was 8, her friend’s father would make his daughter and her perform sex acts on him in the back the kombi he drove them to school in, she said.
She had vague memories of that time but remembered how he would record them for his personal amusement, she said.
“In high school, I was raped by a boy I went to school with, and I was only 14 at the time.
“When I met the man who then became my husband, I thought I had met the man of my dreams and that I would live the fairytale.
“Two years into our marriage, he showed me his true colours when he smacked me. To this day, I still remember the ‘zinging’ sound in my ear from that day,” she said.
“He would hit me in front of his parents, and they would just sit there and watch.
“One day, things got so bad that he tried to chop me with an axe.”
The abuse had lasted 17 years, she said, but the final straw was when her husband raped her when she had refused to have sex with him.
After fleeing the marriage with her son, she sought help from TLC Outreach Projects and slowly rebuilt her life.
Table View SAPS station commander Colonel Lindiwe Dyantyi said awareness about abuse should last all year, not just for 16 days.
“We are privileged here in Table View to have victim support at the police station and we also have many dedicated stakeholders in our community,” she said.
CPF chairman David Harris said: “I can’t even begin to stress how important it is to have this campaign and hearing stories of how people suffer every day at the hands of their loved ones. I support the colonel when she said that this should be a 365-day campaign.”
There was a candle-lighting ceremony to honour those who had died as a result of abuse.
Milnerton cluster commander Major General Aneeqah Jordaan said: “Too often, people get abused in their own homes where they are supposed to feel the safest. It is up to women and men alike to join forces with various stakeholders to fight this head-on.
“Studies have shown that victims of abuse often tend to become abusers themselves and carry on the vicious cycle.
“We need to nip this in the bud so that we create a much safer society with fewer victims and potential perpetrators,” she said.