From her own experiences with abuse, a local woman has launched an organisation to support others who may find themselves in the same situation.
In August last year, Chantelle Morrison established Silent Rights to offer emotional support, counselling, life coaching and legal guidance to women all over the country. The organisation was formed as a direct result of her domestic violence and gender-based violence (GBV) experiences.
“Because of this, our directors ensured that we approach our fight from various directions to ensure that we help victims in every way possible and to ensure that we are able to offer these services at no cost to every woman in South Africa,” says Morrison.
The organisation was launched with a simple social media page.
“I started a page to create awareness around domestic abuse, specifically psychological and emotional abuse because this is what I had experienced personally. I wanted to share my experience so other women knew they were not alone. I wanted to share everything I had learnt with any woman who could benefit from it,” she says.
“Unfortunately our judicial system is not black and white; there is a whole lot of grey area to navigate and I wanted to share this knowledge with women who could not afford an attorney to guide them. It grew faster than I ever imagined. Women reached out to me thanking me for sharing and to ask for help and advice,” says Morrison.
“Women wanted to get involved and contribute. Together we started a community of victims and survivors determined to make a change for no other reason than they had been there before and know what it takes to get through it.”
With abuse affecting every area of a woman’s life, Morrison says an abuse victim will forever be changed in some way.
“Because of this, our focus is to provide services and resources to help women rebuild their lives in every way. Realising most women do not have the financial ability to get professional services to fight for their rights and to aid their recovery, Silent Rights set out to ensure we can provide all our services at no cost, and without restrictions, so that no woman feels like she is alone or cannot fight back because of financial restraints,” she says.
Morrison says not only can many women not afford therapy, many can also not afford an attorney.
“Most women share children with their abusers. Most women have no idea how they even ended up as a victim. You are surrounded by so much fog and you have no idea how or where to go from there. It was so important that we are able to provide women with resources, understanding and direction. When they come to us we assess their situation and provide guidance on a way forward and then we go through that process with them, ensuring they are not alone,” says Morrison.
“We want every woman who has been hurt to know that they are not alone, we might not have all the answers or solutions, but we are here to figure it out with them.”
Silent Rights is hoping to open shelters with facilities that focus on skills development and empowerment skills.
Although only founded late last year, Morrison says they have seen increases in the need for support during the lockdown.
“I believe this to be because of the stressful situations our country is facing; many people have been retrenched or put on short time, many people are struggling to make ends meet. Families have been forced together in one household with no escape and that escalates tension. Not only the financial strain but we are living in strange times, it is stressful. Unfortunately all these factors play a big part in abusive behaviour,” she says.
Morrison encourages women who may be abused to stand up and speak out.
“Speaking out not only creates awareness for other victims, but it is vital for your own personal healing. Many victims are silenced and isolated by abuse and violence, no woman should have to face their recovery alone. When women come together, magic happens,” she says.
“And this is what our aim is, bringing women together not only for the fight against violence and abuse, but for our healing too. Abusers and criminals need to know that we are not taking this anymore. It needs to stop because we will not be silenced.”
Visit www.silentrights.co.za for more information and services.