Our country’s gender-based violence statistics are equal to a country at war. In fact, 51% of women in South Africa have experienced gender-based violence and the impact on their mental health prove to be devastating.

Women are more prone to certain mental health conditions than men. Depression, anxiety, eating disorders and bipolar depression is definitely more at the forefront in the lives of women. And off course, traumatic events such as the global pandemic can trigger or exacerbate mental health conditions. While staying at home seems to be the safest place for human kind right now, for women at risk of abuse, it is quite the opposite.

In situations of domestic violence, an abuser’s outbursts is commonly followed by remorse and an apology. But this “honeymoon” period usually ends in more violence and abuse. This cycle means that women are constantly anticipating the next outburst. Women in these situations feel they have very little control, particularly when the abuse is happening in their own home.

Although President Ramaphosa pledged to strengthen the criminal justice system and provide better care for victims of GBV, many women and children continue to suffer on a daily basis. As we move back into level 4 of lockdown, women are once again suffering at the hands of their abusers.

But interestingly enough, the reverse relationship is also true. Studies show that women with severe mental illness are significantly more likely to fall victim to violence. In fact, it is estimated that they are six times more likely to experience sexual violence during their life.

Therefore, we as women need to make mental health a priority; it’s integral to living a healthy, balanced life. It’s important to be proactive about our mental health by boosting mental resilience.

So ladies, take a breath and check in with yourself. Be sure to treat and speak to yourself with kindness.

Also, get moving. Exercise can be brilliant for flipping your mood and is a great way of boosting the physical side of personal resilience. Write down one thing that you’re proud of about yourself every day. Troubleshoot bedtime. Sleep plays a major role in everyday resilience. And nurture yourself; be mindful of a comforting blanket, soothing music, or a scented candle.

Connect with others and talk about your feelings, hopes and dreams; a lack of emotional support can have detrimental consequences on your mental health.

Mental Health is defined by the World Health Organization as “a state of well-being in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work fruitfully and productively, and is able to make a contribution to the community”.

Are you or someone you care about in an abusive relationship?

As caregivers, homemakers, employees, mothers, daughters, sisters and friends; the expectations are high and the pressures immense. But remember, you are enough.

Trauma and abuse is never your fault. You can get help.

Don’t hesitate to call The Gender-Based Violence Command Centre at 0800 428 428.

Source: vincentcare.org.au, womanshealth.gov, womanshealthmag.com, safmh.org, globalriskinsights.com, gbv.org.za, news24.com, yourstory.com, frontiersin.org, parliament.gov.za, who.int, one.org, ewn.co.za, undp.org, medicinetoday.com

DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.