What We Can Learn From Criselda Dudumashe's Story of Domestic Abuse

Some important things to remember and pass along.

Activist and radio personality, Criselda Dudumashe, recently shared her account of how her husband beat her up. Her story of abuse is one that’s more common than perhaps any of us would like to think about. On social media, Criselda revealed details about her assault at the hands of her husband, Prince Siyolo Dudumashe. She has since opened up a case of domestic violence against him. They’ve been married just over three years, and Criselda owns the narrative by sharing the details of what led up to the abuse as well as the steps she took following it.

Domestic Abuse continues to be a big problem in South Africa. It’s estimated by the Department of Justice that one in four women in South Africa have survived domestic abuse. South Africa has one of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world, and domestic abuse, in particular, is underreported. Here are some things to take away from Criselda’s lengthy statement detailing what happened to her:

Abusers Don’t Always Present as You Might Expect

“I have been battered and beaten. I thought I have an understanding, a knowing of fearing the one you love. For a good 19 years it seemed like I had overcome the abuse. I made my 3 beautiful daughters the center of my world and promised them to NEVER again expose them to a violent and abusive home. When what appeared to be a soft-spoken and gentle man swept me off my feet in 2014, with a love language so different to my previous relationship, I was taken. He was attentive, loving, available and so warm-hearted… someone who seemed not intimidated by my light, always allowing me to pursue my dreams.”

Criselda describes her husband. She recounts how he was emotionally supportive, loving and attentive. This is an important reminder that not all abusers present as such initially.

Documenting the Abuse Can Be Helpful

“Once I went back to work in January 2018, there was a change in his mannerisms, in his language but I paid no mind. Yesterday revealed a different side to my Prince Charming. We woke up, exchanged unpleasant words, but I just pressed on to get to work by 12 noon, not knowing that I was to walk right back home just after 4pm to a raging monster out for blood. Yes, yesterday on 21 January 2019, my husband raised his hand on me and beat me…”

Note how Criselda has documented the dates and times of the alleged abuse and the period leading up to it. Founder of Tears Foundation, Mara Glennie recommends keeping a diary or an account of the abuse, for example, on this day, at this time, your partner did x, y and z, reports Women24This can be helpful with referencing when you lay charges.

One Incident Generally Means There Will Be More

“With the work I do, in part advocating for women in abusive relationships and having previously lived through abuse, I know it’s a beginning with no end.”

Criselda speaks about being an activist, someone who has spoken out on this issue before. Her memoir You are Never Alone encouraged women to speak out against abuse. She herself has spoken out on the domestic abuse she experienced in her first marriage of 19 years. With this knowledge, she warns that one incident is generally followed by more.

How to Prepare For Leaving an Abusive Relationship

“His hit today was one too many. I have laid a charge of domestic violence against him with SAPS.”

Just like Criselda laid a charge of domestic violence against her husband, you can seek help too. There are ways to leave and some things to consider. According to Women24, social worker at POWA (People Opposed Women Abuse) Nompumelelo Mbatha outlines one of the options for leaving an abusive relationship or marriage as applying for a protection order from the family court. However, Mara Glennie founder of the Tears Foundation, argues that a protection order may only be effective if you do not live with your partner. She recommends that, should your life not be in immediate danger, you should prepare your exit in advance by having a copy of your marriage certificate, a copy of your lease agreement, your children’s birth certificates as well as a packed emergency bag and your own bank account with money in it if possible. This way, you have everything you need when filing for divorce or going to court.

There is Corrective Counselling for Abusers

“As a counselor and motivator, even with him, I will still advocate for rehabilitation & corrective counseling, as I have said before, not to excuse, but in hopes of tooling him with a lasting solution as to what triggers that rage. That rage might have been my first experience with him, but I know from my work that if I stay it won’t be my last.”

Criselda recommends corrective counseling for abusers. Along with accountability and hopefully justice, there is therapy. This point is a powerful one when we consider how rampant abuse is.

It Can Be Helpful to Own Your Narrative

“I choose to own my narrative, thus I wrote this note to my friends & supporters. My family and I humbly request the privacy and space to deal with this tragedy.”

Criselda shared her story, she told her story and did so publicly. This may not be for everyone and no survivor should feel obligated to do the same, as survivors owe nobody the story of their trauma. However, it can be helpful to talk to someone you trust or a therapist in order to deal with abuse and come to terms with the trauma. Owning your narrative can simply be writing it down for yourself and taking it from there.

Criselda is reportedly taking a break from her SAfm show.

Numbers to Call if You or Someone You Know Needs Help:

  • POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse): 011 6424 345
  • Gender-based Violence Command Centre: 0800 428 428 (emergency line) or *120*7867# (please call me facility)
  • Tears Foundation helpline: *134*7355#

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