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16 Days of activism: How to recognise victims of Gender Based Violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a worldwide epidemic that affects millions of people. GBV can take many forms – physical, sexual, psychological, financial – and can intrude on every aspect of the victim’s life, including the workplace.

Victims of GBV may struggle to cope with the stress of their situation and have difficulty performing daily duties. But the fear of being judged or their abuser finding out that they’ve reached out, makes them reluctant to seek help from their co-workers and friends.

The good news is that there are some signs that can help you identify if someone you work with is battling with GBV.

Common Symptoms of GBV:

  • Your friend or co-worker seems withdrawn or is isolating themselves.
  • They avoid socialising or discussing personal topics.
  • Unexplained broken bones, bruises or cuts.
  • They are always on high alert.
  • They suffer from low self-esteem.
  • They seem despondent, depressed or have voiced suicidal thoughts.
  • Fear of going home.
  • Vague medical issues.


Recognising victims of gender-based violence in the workplace can be difficult, but it’s important to remind them that they are not alone.

If you suspect that someone you work with is a victim of GBV, there are things you can do to help.

Your first step is to speak out. Report your suspicions to your supervisor or HR department. This will help ensure that the victim receives the assistance they need if they are not willing or afraid to come to you for help.

You can also offer them your support and provide them with resources that can aid them.


Dial the free helpline 0800 428 428.

Useful Numbers to Keep
SAPS Emergency Services 10111
Childline South Africa Report child abuse to Childline, South Africa’s toll-free line: 0800 055 555
GBV Command Center Contact the 24-hour gender-based violence command center toll-free Crime Stop number: 0800 428 428 to report abuse.
SAPS Report all cases of rape, sexual assault or any form violence to a local police station or call the toll-free Crime Stop number: 086 00 10111
Legal Aid South Africa Call the toll-free Legal Aid Advice line 0800 110 110 for free legal aid if you cannot afford one.
Commission for Gender Equality Report Gender Discrimination & Abuse: 0800 007 709
South African Human Rights Commission Call 011 877 3600 to lodge a complaint about human rights violations.
Domestic Violence Helpline Stop Women Abuse – report domestic incidents to 0800 150 150





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