In this month we feature an interview with Cindy Pivacic. You may have seen her giving talks in the Umhlanga area.
She is a HIV awareness promoter, speaker, author and media personality. She herself is a victim of gender based violence. I managed to catch up with her and interview her. This is what she had to say:
This month marks 16 days of activism in our country to highlight gender based violence against women and children. What do you have to say to women who are trapped in abusive relationships?
I understand that it is easier said than done as I was in an abusive relationship/marriage for nine years. What I say to you, abused women, is that the very first time a disgustingly harsh word or any form of physical abuse arises, get out as it only gets worse. You may think you can calm or fix the person but you cannot, only they can and if they are not willing to get counselling…run!
You yourself were trapped in an abusive relationship. Can you tell us about your experience?
My second marriage was highly abusive, physically and mentally, a situation that I was embarrassed to have been in, so have never really spoken about it.
The fact that I was in that relationship for nine years is frightening, I was in a relationship with him for five years and married to him for four and many a time felt that my life was in danger.
The abuse started fairly early in our relationship stage and sadly, I thought I could ‘fix’ it. Over time the abuse escalated from verbal/emotional to serious physical abuse, including black eyes, being kicked, body slammed and punched, thrown against walls and cracking a rib.
You may ask why I didn’t get out of it earlier, ask any abused person and they will have difficulty explaining, easier said than done.
Some of the reasons are quite complex and can be explained through the known cycle of abuse. In some cases, apologies from the perpetrator, I can help them change, it’s my fault, and more, these are just the tip of the abuse acceptance situation.
I do make mention of it in my book The Deadly Seducer which is available from me directly. In case you are wondering there ARE records of domestic abuse filed and court orders issued so, no, I didn’t do absolutely nothing.
What made you get out?
Getting out was difficult as I did rely on him in part for my accommodation and financial situation. The last straw was when he went over the top and attacked me after he had been on a drinking binge, (two days after a drinking binge, brought out the ‘devil’ in him) he took a sjambok to my back that we had in the house as a home invasion weapon, as we had previously been burgled and I had earlier gotten rid of a firearm he had given to me as a gift, very wise of me indeed! I had to evacuate the house in a panicked state as I know I would have had more lashings and abrasions, if not worse, to my body. He proceeded to lock me out of the house, yet again, and I decided that the time had come no matter what, to find alternative accommodation and get out of there before my life was destroyed or I was possibly killed, as his mother often used to warn him that it was always a possibility it could happen. I left and never looked back.
When you get out of such a relationship where is the best place to go for help?
If you have no support, or as in my case never shared the abuse in its entirety with my family, find a centre that has the facilities to assist. There are many, and if you don’t know where to start, find an NPO/NGO to guide and support you through the ordeal of finding a way out.
Can you think of any places of refuge or shelters where women can go to find help?
The Open Door Crisis Care Centre in Pinetown has a shelter and I can vouch for that as I was a volunteer there for a couple of years.
What is your message to men out there, how can they correct this wrong?
Think before you strike – What if this was your daughter.
If you have a problem, man up and ask for help. Get counselling.
You have managed to come back from this fighting and are now an inspirational speaker. How did you build yourself up again?
Yes, you are correct, I have bounced back. I am a resilient person and realised I have a purpose in life and it is up to me to embrace my power and become the person I am supposed to be, no matter the bumps and setbacks in the journey.
Find out more about her here: www.cindypivacic.co.za