It’s been almost two weeks since the country collectively cried out in shock and horror after the appalling news of Uyinene Mrwetyana’s murder spurred a social media storm, mass protests, and a huge amount of press coverage.
Emotions ran high and are still running high. Anger and fear are the most common experiences felt mostly by womxn and expressed in part via hashtags and a really powerful march on parliament.
“Gender based violence has literally shaken the lives of each and every woman living in South Africa. As we took to parliament on the 5 September 2019, it was evident that we all shared the same fear and pain. All dressed in black to depict what we felt deep inside.
Among the crowds who gathered outside parliament were several generations of South African women who have survived the toxic masculinity in this country. We all stood in solidarity against the conditions we live in on a daily basis, which has turned us into fearful human beings.
What hurts the most is that we fear the ones that are “supposed to protect” us. Men have just become so unworthy of trusting that even our own blood fathers we have started doubting. Is it our level of intellectualness that bruises their egos? Or the fact that us as women now have our own free will and opinions?
Gender based violence has got so much to do with patriarchal mindsets and a feeling of entitlement to have power over women. It pains me to see the extent to which these men act with such cruelty. I don’t get it. One would think that the recent marches/protests and increased awareness on gender-based violence would decrease the rate of rape and murder of women. However, it seems as if it just gave them more ammunition and fuel to continue committing these horrendous crimes. It is absolutely atrocious!
This country has become such a fearful place. It is sad that things have come to this. How can we live a life of quality with the fear we carry each day?
Women have been facing trauma and grieving for a long time. We feel defeated and restless, all because our justice system is not taking us seriously. What have we done to deserve such cruelty? Is the reality that we have to run from country to country for safety?
Honestly, these crimes have just left me with so many questions and fears. Yes, we march and protest, but will we ever be heard? Will we ever be taken seriously?”
Beautifully, this issue brought South Africans together in solidarity and collective anguish. We gathered and talked and shared and comforted one another.
But there is not enough space, there are not enough spaces for our collective rage and terror.
These feelings are spilling out and affecting all of us. And so it should. The political is personal. These are our daughters, sisters, mothers – this is you and me.
And the men responsible for these acts of brutality, well, I don’t even know where to begin. There is so much pain in this society of ours. The wounds are so deep and the dehumanization so entrenched. I don’t know how we even begin to heal.
As a psychology practice I feel it is important to point out that your emotional experience is valid and meaningful. It is awful to be left with so much fear and anguish. Our anger is justified and it is appropriate to feel these intense emotions. They are a normal response to a traumatic and horrifying reality.
I think over and above all of these feelings, the feeling of helplessness is also so abundant. What do we do? I don’t have clear answers here but I acknowledge how frightening and paralyzing this helplessness feels and how hard it is to move because a step in any direction feels dangerous. We are not feeling safe and that means we can’t think or learn adequately. This has huge ramifications for the progress of this country.
Therapy doesn’t necessarily offer solutions. Talking to someone doesn’t necessarily make our feelings disappear or resolve the problems. We talk in therapy to process our feelings, to digest our experiences and to feel safe to be who we are.
If you’re looking for a safe space to just be, to let off steam or to express feelings that are too big or too scary to say out loud in other spaces then please make contact with us here at Carly’s Couch. We are here to listen and qualified to help.
We also offer therapy for people who have financial constraints so don’t let your financial situation hold you back. Contact us and we can chat about your needs and how to proceed with an initial meeting and take it from there. We also offer short term therapy solutions.
In the meantime, seek out safe spaces amongst friends, relatives and institutions who treat you with care. No one should live in unsafe spaces. If you are not safe then you have the right to leave that space. There are organisations that can help provide you with shelter so you never have to stay with a man who is mistreating you.