Kagiso centre becomes a haven for abused men

Kagiso centre becomes a haven for abused men

We spoke to Oupa Bila, the director of The Carroll Shaw Memorial Centre, about the incredible work they do to heal abused men.

Abused man
Abused man/ iStock

Men abuse is a subject that is seldom spoken about.

“When you talk about gender-based violence, the first thing that comes into your mind is that women and children are victims and men are perpetrators,” says Oupa Bila.

However, he says there are many men who are being abused and are afraid to come out.

“We did realise that everyone is talking about the abuse of women and children and no one is saying anything about the men,” says Bila.

However, he says “if we are to have a stable community, a stable family”, all victims of abuse need to be helped. 

Bila says society tends to look at men as “people who don’t have feelings, as people who don’t have tears, those people who are nothing but perpetrators.”

He says most men don’t lay charges because of “how we were brought up. Traditionally it is said that a boy child does not cry.”

He adds that questions such as: “Are you a real man?” have fuelled the stereotype that men can never experience abuse.

“When you cry, we say 'what kind of man are you?' So, we are afraid to cry, we are afraid to tell and speak up of how we feel because we were told that we are men, and as men, we don’t have to cry,” he adds.

In a bid to end this stigma, The Carroll Shaw Memorial Centre in Kagiso, Gauteng is reaching out to men who are victims of abuse.

To date, it has helped hundreds of men who have left their homes to seek help and restore their pride.

Bila says they work with professional counsellors who counsel the men daily.

"We give them a three-course meal a day, we give them counselling, we liaise with relevant structures such as if the person needs hospital care, if there are court matters, we assist as much as we can," says Bila. 

He says that in most cases, men who come to their shelter have experienced abuse because of financial constraints and illnesses - and that has robbed them of their dignity. 

However, the centre has managed to help men find employment and helped them deal with medical conditions while restoring their dignity. 

"The ultimate goal is when we see this person's life is restored. One of the programmes we do is called 'family reunification'," says Bila. 

He says they have had success stories where men have been empowered through their shelter and as a result have been able to reconcile with their families.

"Stories such as that give us a reason to continue doing what we are doing," concludes Bila. 

READ: Domestic abuse survivor urges others to speak out about their abuse

Image courtesy of iStock/ kieferpix

Show's Stories