From the news desk

Strong link between intimate partner violence and drug use

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The usage of drugs in a relationship creates a toxic web of mental and physical abuse, which can have dangerous consequences. That is the opinion of the Saartjie Baartman Centre, who is raising awareness around the link between intimate partner violence and substance use during Drug Awareness Week.

“Eighty percent of women who arrive at the Centre seeking emergency shelter from abusive partners test positive for drugs. We are unable to ignore the relationship between the two,” says Dorothea Gertse, Head Social Worker and Shelter Manager at the Centre.

Since expanding its services to include a substance abuse treatment wing in 2016, the Saartjie Baartman Centre has assisted over 70 women to leave abusive relationships and seek assistance for addiction. Unlike many in-patient rehab services, women are able to bring their children with them while they detox at the Centre.

The Centre is a one-stop facility, addressing gender based violence through more than just one intervention. It has over the years grown to offer women more than just safe shelter, but individual counselling, support groups, job skills training and parenting workshops.

“When you see a client, they aren’t just struggling with an abusive partner – they are often unemployed, lacking confidence and abusing substances,” says Gertse.

Under close care and supervision, women are able to stay for 16 weeks in the substance abuse unit. The unit is equipped to assist clients to come off those drugs that do not require medical in-patient oversight, namely; dagga, tik, cocaine, mandrax, glue and over-the-counter medications.

Childcare is provided, especially when mothers are coming off substances or when they are looking for and taking on jobs.

“Mothers who are addicted to substances can recover with the peace of mind that their children are in a safe environment,” says Gertse.

Established 18 years ago, The Saartjie Baartman Centre has assisted more than 190 000 victims of crime and violence. Situated in Manenberg, the shelter houses an average of 100 women and children at a time. Women seeking their services can contact the Centre on 021 633 5287.

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