DOMESTIC violence is fast becoming one of the most perpetrated crimes against women in Nelson Mandela Bay and the Eastern Cape.
Over the past year, cases like those of Avril Gordon in Port Elizabeth and Nomboniso Swelindawo in Uitenhage have dominated headlines and highlighted violence in the home.
In response, counselors at the Family and Marriage Society of SA (Famsa) are opening the path to healing for victims, with a new therapy group for people in abusive relationships.
They say they have seen an upward trend in the amount of people coming to them for help.
"The statistics that we are seeing at Famsa indicate to us that there is a rise in this problem.
"We have more people coming to us seeking help, especially from the centres that we are working with in the community," said the counsellors, speaking as a group.
"People are becoming more aware of the problem and this group is open to anyone and everyone, not only for women, but anyone who is in an abusive relationship, even men."
The counsellors said the group would help to empower women and men in violent and abusive relationships to heal by enabling them to talk to other people who were in the same situation.
"By sharing their experiences, survivors are given the opportunity to heal from the trauma through examining the patterns of abuse in their lives, the dynamics they experienced, as well as the effects on their life, the lives of their families and their mental wellbeing. In the group, the members can then support each other and create a safe environment for each other to share and heal from the trauma of the abusive relationships."
Early last year, Gordon was kept locked up, burnt and beaten with chains and table legs, allegedly at the hands of her husband, Frederick Gordon.
He is now facing multiple charges, including attempted murder in an ongoing court case in Port Elizabeth.
In August this year, The Herald reported that Swelindawo was killed, allegedly by her ex-boyfriend, after years of physical abuse and being "beaten to a pulp".
In another case of domestic violence, 39-year-old Mluleki Manziya was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment for stabbing his girlfriend Ntomboxolo Timba to death at their Port Alfred home after she broke up with him.
Famsa said this cycle of abuse could only be broken when men and women talked openly about violence in their homes.
"We understand that most of the time domestic violence is associated with men beating women and we have been open minded in creating this group by saying that it shouldn't be about women only, as men can also be victims of abuse.
"Domestic violence is a very dangerous situation to be in and people don't understand that by not speaking out, it only gets worse and the perpetrator does not see that they have a serious problem. The only way to break the cycle of abuse is by helping people to speak out."
For more information on Famsa's therapy group for people in abusive relationships call: (041)585-9393.