Domestic violence is a pressing issue in South Africa and has been the subject of much debate, activism and academic research. It is commonly argued that violence between intimate partners remains largely hidden and that women in marital and cohabiting unions endure much physical, emotional and sexual abuse. This qualitative study focuses on the experiences of a small group of women living in KwaMhlanga, in Mpumalanga. Although the women had been fearful of reporting their abuse and had spent years suffering silently, all had finally displayed much urgency in reporting the actions of their abusers. In reflecting on their circumstances, the women refer to the primary factors influencing their partners to become abusers: unemployment, financial hardships and poverty, alcohol and drugs, and factors such as immature attitudes, cultural beliefs and jealousy. It is also argued that the institutions of ‘marriage’ and ‘cohabitation’, whilst similar, introduce slightly different constraints and expectations. Married women suffered more abuse and were controlled than their cohabitant counterparts. The study makes no policy recommendations but emphasises the importance of doing substantive work to probe women’s experiences of abuse in intimate unions in all parts of South Africa. Copyright
Dissertation (MSocSci)--University of Pretoria, 2010.