There are many different types of abuse: verbal, mental, physical, economic/financial and sexual (including rape).

Women who are victim to these can manifest their trauma in many ways including:

  • Being and acting secretive and/or defensive.
  • Having a distinct lack of confidence.
  • Being withdrawn.
  • Being constantly nervous (often more so when their abuser is around).
  • Being reluctant to speak to people or to attend social functions.
  • Frequently late or absent from work.

These types of behaviour do not exclusively point to violence against women but they do indicate that you should be extra vigilant to spot any further signs of abuse.

If you suspect that a woman in your life – be it your family member, friend, co-worker or acquaintance – is being abused, has suffered rape, is in danger of an honour killing or forced marriage or any other type of gender-based violence – TAKE ACTION.

I suspect my mother/sister/daughter/friend is a victim of abuse/has been raped/ has been assaulted. How can I help her?

Helping victims of gender-based violence is often the hardest aspect of the situation as an outsider looking in. Women who are being abused often lack the confidence to get out of that situation as their abuser has made them feel weak and dependent on them.

Sometimes they will not even recognise that there is a problem in their relationship.

Until a woman realises that she does not have to stay in an abusive relationship, there is little that you can do besides being there for her as a friend. If you feel that the situation is really out of control then you can involve the authorities.

But until the woman is ready to press charges, it is unlikely to help.

Women who are coping with the aftermath of an abusive or violent situation need what any woman needs: love and support.

Often they just want to be treated like a normal person who has never been a victim of this terrible crime, so don’t walk on eggshells.

However, if you feel that they are not coping, then persuading them to get counselling or psychiatric help is advisable.

Most of all: DO NOT JUDGE.

For more information about how to help and support women who have faced gender-based violence, go here.