Women shared stories of hope and overcoming abuse during a gender-based violence workshop.
The workshop, organised by Ward 60’s Women for Change took place on Friday April 22, at the Kenwyn hall, giving women a safe space to open up about their circumstances, share advice and learn from one another.
Activist Dawn Fisher, shared how she overcame gender-based violence and the role her childhood played. She fell pregnant at the age of 15 and later married her partner who was 16 years older than she was. When she turned 27, she had had enough and decided to divorce him because of the abuse. She later ended up in another relationship with a partner 10 years older. They got married but barely two years later, she divorced him.
During her first divorce, Ms Fisher started working for an NGO who helped abused women which at first proved tricky for her as she had to face and deal with her past head-on but she had to, as she had three children who needed her.
When she met her second husband, Ms Fisher believed she had met her knight in shining armour. This story unfortunately did not have a happy ending and while she said that he did not physically or verbally abuse her or cheat on her, he was extremely possessive and obsessive.
“His possessive behaviour literally choked me, I could not breathe. I was scared to go home because of the jealousy and the accusations. I eventually had to book myself into a clinic to deal with the stress and trauma this caused,” she said.
Only once she started going to therapy did she realise the effect of having a father who was present but emotionally absent, had had on her and the role it played in the type of men she found herself with.
“The journey was not always easy but my past experiences of abuse empowered me to be able to reach out and empower other women. I faced verbal and physical abuse, I was cheated on, my spouse had had children outside of our marriage, but I wouldn’t trade my experience as it made me the person I am today.”
Ms Fisher saluted every woman who attended the workshop and those who survived any form of abuse be it as a child, teenager or adult, encouraging them to keep on pushing forward.
Also at the workshop was Ward 60 councillor Mark Kleinschmidt who said gender-based violence was a pandemic on its own, which became more evident during lockdown. He said he regularly received calls from mothers or wives regarding incidents of domestic violence.
“Women are the eyes and ears of the community, they shape and nurture and I honour you for the role you play,” he said.
The City’s emergency contact number is 021 480 7700.