Abused men ‘suffering in silence’

As the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children is observed, men have been called on to support the campaign which started on Sunday November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) and runs until Sunday December 10 (International Human Rights Day).

But a Khayelitsha man has called on the community and the authorities to do more to help men who are in abusive relationships.

The Site B resident, whose name is known to Vukani, said he had been physically and emotionally abused by his ex-wife, but that when he tried to report it to police, they failed to assist him.

In an interview with Vukani, the man detailed the horrific abuse he suffered over many years and claimed he had been arrested nine times for acts of domestic abuse he had not been guilty of.

He said every time he appeared in court the complainant would not attend the court proceedings and the cases would be dismissed.

The unemployed father of three said there were times in his life he wanted to kill himself as he saw no reason to live. Silently weeping, he said the abuse he suffered at the hands of his ex-wife had left him traumatised.

He said he had opted to share his story because he wanted to make it known that men could also be victims of domestic abuse. His home in Mandalay, he said, he lost in the divorce proceedings in 2012.

The man, who is a teacher, said he believed that police officers needed to be better equipped to deal with cases such as his, where the man is the victim of domestic abuse.

“We die in silence. We are too afraid to report domestic abuse as we fear that we will be the laughing stock. The entire justice systems continues to fail men. We are seen as monsters. I have attempted to get justice but all efforts have been fruitless.

“I am still breathing and living for the sake of my children,” he said.

“If I did not have children I would have killed myself years ago.”

Ultimately, he said, he hoped his story would derail other men who were considering suicide and pleaded with men not to abuse women.

Khayelitsha station commander Brigadier Mkhuseli Nkwintshi, however, said police officers were well equipped to deal with domestic abuse committed against men and advised the complainant to contact him so that he could follow up the matter and see how he could assist him.

He emphasised that domestic abuse, whether perpetrated against men or women, should never be taken lightly.

Co-ordinator of Sonke Gender Justice in Gugulethu, Sikhangele Mabhulu, said it was not surprising to hear the man’s story, adding that the organisation had received similar complaints before about men not being assisted when reporting abuse.

He said when complainants felt they were not being assisted at the charge office they should request to see a senior officer or management.

If this didn’t help, he said, they should contact Sonke Gender Justice who would help them take the matter further.