Household surveys by the South African Medical Research Council (MRC) have found that 40% of men have hit their partners and one in four men has raped a woman. Three-quarters of men who admit to having raped women say they did so first as teenagers.
And, while a quarter of the country’s women has been raped, just 2% of those raped by a partner report the incident to police.
Our users weigh in on this topic:
Pam Govender: Women are at the highest risk of being killed when they try to leave abusive relationships. It is imperative that victims seek professional help. Proper planning should be done if she is certain she wants to leave and victims should be educated about domestic violence (DV) and abuse. It does not mean if someone is being abused, they understand DV.
Abusers are manipulators and will through various ways try to regain power and control. Often victims go back for different reasons the common ones being they are manipulated by the abuser, they did not plan properly and the situation they find themselves in is too difficult to manage and they rather return to their "comfort zone" where they know how to survive .
My advice: find an advice centre or welfare agency that deals with domestic violence and get the proper help and awareness.
Read: Expert Q&A - Can one provoke domestic voilence and abuse? How do you break the cycle?
Angelique Steyn: I feel sorry for those women in abused relationships but only they can make it right. Then we also come across women who lie about being abused - I have a sister-in-law who lied about it and felt sorry for her when she was "abused" but angry when we found out how she lied - so it is difficult to also have sympathy sometimes.
Rianna Silber: My boyfriend used to keep tabs on me - I even caught him following me to the shopping mall or to meet a friend for lunch. He would go through my cellphone records and my handbag and make snide remarks if he found something that in his mind was suspicious. I had nothing to hide, but I was afraid of him (and loved him at the same time, or at least I think it was love). I could never put my finger on it, but there was something ominous about him.
One day he questioned an SMS from a guy friend at work, and although it was completely innocent, he flew into a rage and hit me over the head, shouting and screaming that I was a whore. Weeks later I found the courage to leave him, although the tears and drama that poured from him was unbelievable.
He has subsequently slashed my car tires, and now my dog is missing, and I think it is him. I have no proof and if it carries on, I will have to leave town. He scares me so much.
Nadine Spires: Professional help costs and most of the abused women don't have money or transport. People tend to forget, you need money or help from others to get away. What if you don't have either?
Sporting Granny: I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to teach my two sons that a man doesn't lay his hands on a woman. Walk away, punch the wall, do whatever is necessary to release your frustration, but do not lay your hands on a woman or you will have to face your Mum.
Read: Domestic abuse at the hands of a steriod-pumping rugby player
Rohan Crafford: It’s not so easy. My wife comes out of an abusive relationship - he used to beat her up so badly, and I always asked myself how come she never left him. The first time it happened he broke her nose beyond repair. He also broke her legs and dragged her in the street. I just thank God that I was able to save her.
I asked her once why she never left him, and she told me she kept on telling herself it’s her fault and it will get better. Men like that do not deserve love.
Sanitha Smith: My husband used to lock me in our house for weeks at an end. During these times I wasn't allowed to go out or to speak to anybody, not even my family. He also took away my cellphone and controlled what and when I ate and when I could watch TV. This carried on for years, and while I was angry at first, I later accepted it and did as he said, for fear of being hit or raped by him. Then just as suddenly he would decide I was 'good' and could live a 'normal' life again, and I always forgave him. Only when he died a couple of years ago did I have the courage to venture out. With the help of neighbours I am now receiving professional counselling and finding the will to live again.
Have you suffered domestic abuse? Let us know by mailing us at email@example.com
Contact Akeso Clinics' Psychiatric Intervention Response Unit at the number: 0861 HELP US (4357 87). If it is a crisis, they will dispatch in intervention vehicle immediately. The service is free to all South Africans, but is currently (September 2014) only available in Gauteng and KZN. It will be launched in the Cape in October.
They assist in cases of domestic violence; substance abuse; geriatric patients; patients experiencing a manic mood disorder episode; patients who have or are seriously threatening suicide, among others.
LifeLine Southern Africa is a 24-hour crisis intervention service. "Emotional First Aid station". Free, confidential telephone counselling, rape counselling, trauma counselling, Aids counselling, and a range of other services. Not-for-profit organisation. National counselling line: 0861-322-322.
People Opposed to Woman Abuse (Powa) is a Gauteng-based organisation offering shelter, counselling and legal support to women in abusive relationships, rape survivors, survivors of incest. Helpline: 083 765 1235. www.powa.co.za
Stop Gender Abuse offers crisis counselling for women who have been raped or abused, advice and support for people wanting to support women in need of help, legal and other options available for abused women and rape survivors. Run by LifeLine Southern Africa. Toll-free helpline: 0800 150 150
Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust works to prevent rape, offers healing to survivors, and works towards legal reforms that will ensure perpetrators are brought to justice. Services include counselling, court preparation, support groups, important contact numbers. Non-governmental organisation. Counselling lines: 021 447-9762 (Observatory), 021 633 9229 (Athlone), 021 361 9085 (Khayalitsha), www.rapecrisis.org.za
Speak Out for rape emergency information, services, advice, links. Non-governmental organisation. www.speakout.org.za
Here is a list of help centres in the Western Cape
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