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Abused women twice as likely to be depressed

In light of World Mental Health Day, recognised on 10 October every year, the Saartjie Baartman Centre has highlighted the importance of providing victims of intimate partner violence with the tools and support required to promote mental wellbeing. Reports from the World Health Organisation show that women who are abused are twice as likely to suffer from depression and are more prone to attempt suicide.

The centre for abused women and children situated in Manenberg, Cape Town, sees around 600 women a month, many of whom arrive feeling despondent and depressed. A number also experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress, such as nightmares and flashbacks, as result of the violence they have experienced at the hands of their intimate partners.

“The impact of abuse goes beyond the relationship itself. Even when a woman leaves her partner, the effects on her self esteem, mood and coping skills linger,” says Head Social Worker and Shelter Manager Dorothea Gertse. “Many people do not have the tools and support to heal themselves in a healthy and constructive way.”

Unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as self-medication and substance abuse are not uncommon amongst women who experience violence and abuse. In promoting mental health, Gerste highlights the importance of building strong family and friend support networks, taking part in enjoyable activities and community projects, and seeking help from health services and involved NGOs when needed.

Since opening in 1999, the Saartjie Baartman Centre has assisted more than 180 000 victims of violence and abuse. It is a one-stop facility that offers emergency shelter, counseling, legal advice, job skills training and a soft substance treatment unit.

* Research and stats provided by a World Health Organisation report: Global and regional estimates of violence against women.

ENDS

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 Distributed by Be-cause Integrated Communications

Emma Proctor

emma@be-cause.co.za

021 447 1082 / 072 930 4412

On behalf of the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children:

Head Social Worker and shelter manager: Dorothea Gertse

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