Story helps to heal

2016-12-06 06:01
Residents of Strandfontein lit a ribbon-shaped candle display in pink and purple last week in honour of the 16 Days of Activism campaign. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

Residents of Strandfontein lit a ribbon-shaped candle display in pink and purple last week in honour of the 16 Days of Activism campaign. PHOTO: Samantha Lee

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“I love you, Mommy.”

These were the last words a mother heard before she found her daughter, hanging in the garage.

There were some tense and emotional moments as Shirley Cloete told the story of her daughter Nicole’s suicide to residents who had gathered in Strandfontein to honour those who had committed suicide as a result of domestic violence.

The vigil, hosted by Strandfontein victim support, the community policing forum (CPF) and the neighbourhood watch, was held on Thursday in Recife Crescent, near the Cloetes’ home.

Sandy Schuter, CPF chairperson, says Strandfontein has been hit by at least eight suicides in the past three years as a result of domestic violence.

The park has a tree and stone plaque in memory of Nicole Cloete.

“This is an opportunity for us to remember the friends and family we have lost, who were victims of domestic violence. They felt they did not have a way out so they took their own lives. I want to encourage those who suffer not to suffer in silence and to speak out about abuse,” says Schuter.

She adds more must be done to also raise awareness for violence against men.

Nicole Cloete was 23 when she took her life. Her mother Shirley could not hold back the tears as she told her moving tale of how the loss has affected her family.

Nicole’s parents say they are still hurting from their loss, but find strength in knowing she wanted to help people. They now use her story as a platform to create ongoing awareness about domestic violence.

Miranda Lawrence of the victim support unit encouraged parents at the vigil to listen to their children and speak to them when they notice behavioural changes.

“Often we look at domestic violence as beating; it is not only beating. Domestic violence can be verbal abuse and emotional abuse as well,” she said.

“Young people go through things and they don’t speak. If we just take the time to listen, we will hear there are a lot of things that are bothering them. Take responsibility and save our children’s lives.”

Elton Jansen, ward 43 councillor, also attended the event and told the Cloetes: “I admire you for using your situation to speak out and create awareness about abuse. There are so many people who are suffering behind closed doors but we are here to say that they don’t have to suffer in silence.”

He further encouraged the community to stand together.

“We must speak out as a community. Let us stand together to create an open door for people to speak about abuse. Let us make it our business and speak out when we see domestic violence happening,” he said.

The vigil was one of several events planned in Strandfontein for the 16 Days of Activism campaign.

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