A law enforcement officer is running a free eight-week programme in Goodwood to help victims of domestic violence.
Merinca Lucas has been at the Goodwood Sports Club since Wednesday October 25, educating people about the different forms of domestic violence; how to apply for an interdict; how to stop conflict escalating and how to spot a potentially abusive partner.
The programme runs on Wednesdays, from 7pm to 8pm, and will be in Goodwood until December 13.
Ms Lucas, of Ruyterwacht, has run the programme elsewhere in the City, tailoring it to the needs of each community. She is no stranger to domestic violence.
“I grew up in an area where domestic violence was rampant. I witnessed how it affected both adults and children. After I joined law enforcement, I got the opportunity to work more closely with domestic-violence issues. During that time, I saw how alcohol and drug abuse, as well as the lack of knowledge of how to deal with domestic violence, contributed to the issue.”
Unemployment and poverty, she said, often led to substance abuse, which was the driving force behind a lot of domestic violence.
She believes children should be taught as early as primary school how to spot the warning signs of an abusive partner.
Her slogan is “What you will allow, will continue” and it’s one she is pushing in the build-up to the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, from Saturday November 25 to Sunday December 10.
“I want to urge victims to speak out and take action in order to get out of abusive situations.”
Often, economic abuse kept women locked in abusive relationships, but they could lessen the stress of leaving by planning their escape.
“I want to encourage women to plan ahead if they decide to leave their partner. Leave a change of clothes for you and your children, along with money and a copy of your ID with a trusted friend beforehand.”
Ward 27 councillor Cecile Janse van Rensburg welcomed the initiative and said no woman should have to feel threatened in their own home.
“It might seem, at the time, that the situation is hopeless but the reality is that there are ways out of any abusive relationship. Do not suffer in silence – realise that you deserve better because you are worthy and reach out for guidance and assistance. I think many women in abusive situations feel overwhelmed by their circumstances. To these women, I want to say, that they must take the first step towards healing by acknowledging that there is a problem. There is always help available.”
Ms Janse van Rensburg said women in her ward who were victims of domestic violence could call her at 063 525 5217 for help. To find out more about the programme being run by Ms Lucas, call 074 301 0128.