Recognise abuse, know where to go

Take time to study your relationships and look out for the following signs so that you can opt out before it becomes physical

Harriet Gonza was harassed by male clan members disputing her inheritance 

BY Sarah Aanyu and Sam Caleb Opio


Gender-based violence: A lot of grief that women suffer is avoidable, if only they are able to read the signs and terminate a toxic relationship. Sarah Aanyu got some tips from the experts.


Sometimes we stay in a relationship without realising that we are being abused either physically or emotionally or psychological until it turns violent. Only then, do we get to know that the situation is serious and sometimes even life-threatening.
Take time to study your relationships and look out for the following signs so that you can opt out before it becomes physical.
According to Ali Male, a counseling psychologist at A-Z professional Counseling and Support Centre, signs you are in an abusive relationship include;

• When one party is manipulative which does not favour one side.

• The show of aggressive character by one of the spouses is a sign of an abusive relationship.

• A relationship where a third party influences the acts of one is an abusive one because a healthy relationship should be between two people.

• When one partner has habits that one does like not such as drinking, smoking and drug abuse and the other fails to change even if one asks him or her to stop.

• When one does nagging things and never bothers to change no matter what you do to see them change.

• When the communication is not consistent and there are many things lacking but the other person is not making an effort to try to communicate.

• When the relationship is influenced by one party and the other does not have a say even when it comes to a matter that affects both of them.

Male says people need to know that an abusive relationship is a toxic one and no one needs to stay in it unless they have sought some help.
He advises the couple to reflect on the issues affecting them because the one who is proving abusive may actually be having issues that need to be addressed by the both of you although the other party prefers to be silent.
He advises those in abusive relationships to refrain from going silent but engage a logical third party who can help talk to the one being abusive. This, he suggests, could be a religious leader or therapist who can offer his or her services to help.
Also in some cases, patience may be the solution because some people may just need some understanding in order to change. Even when trying to talk to them, you should be calm because such people are violent and aggressive in most cases.

Organisations that provide shelter include;
• God’s Mercy Children’s home on Kawempe Mbogo Kakungulu Zone, Tula/Kilokole, Road; Temporary Shelter for survivors of Domestic Violence.
• Wakisa Ministries is a temporary shelter for pregnant teenagers between 10 and 16 years. They offer counselling and economic empowerment.
• Action Aid Women Protection Centre on Sir Apollo Road,Kampala after Bwaise near Makerere Business Institute.
All the above shelters are open 8.30am to 5pm daily and the services are offered free of charge.

Organisations that provide psychosocial counselling include;
• Rehabilitation Center for Victims of Domestic and Sexual Violence on Bombo Road, opposite YMCA, Silva Arcade, Basement floor, room b8.
• Naguru Teenage Centre; Kiswa, along Old Portbell Road opposite shell Bugolobi for counselling for teenagers and reproductive health
• Communication for Development Uganda for Counselling for survivors of Domestic Violence and referrals on Kira road opposite KCCA Flats before Demark building
• Acid Survivors foundation Uganda on Namuwongo,Bukasa Road at Friends Medical Centre Building for Psychosocial support ,financial (economic empowerment), and medical guidance to acid survivors
• The MIFUMI Project on Ntinda , Martyrs drive Next to Ntinda Doctors family clinic for Counselling, legal Aid, Psychosocial services
• For free Post Exposure Prophylaxis (HIV prevention) for victims of rape and defilement, medical services are available at the following KCCA Health Centres; Komamboga, Kawala, Kitebi, Kisenyi, Kiswa and Kisugu. Also offering services is Kamwokya Christian Caring Community on Kyebando Road opposite Catholic Church and Reproductive Health Uganda on Tufnell Drive Kamwokya for VCT, family planning services, referrals and counselling

Organisations that provide legal services include;
• FIDA Uganda for Legal Aid to women and children, counselling, mediation and referrals.
• Legal Aid Project for Legal Aid to women and children.
• Administrator General of Government for resolution of property inheritance wrangles.
• Justice centre Uganda for handling criminal cases and giving legal Aid and ARD (Alternative Dispute Resolution.
• Uganda Network on Law, Ethics and HIV/AIDS(UGANET); offering Legal Aid to women, children and PLHIV.
• Domestic Violence Legal Aid Uganda for Legal Aid to women and children.
There are Police Surgeons at Mulago Hospital, Kibuli Police Clinic, Nsambya Police Clinic and Mayfair Clinic Najjanankumbi, Kampala

Land wrangles
Harriet Gonza 45, from Buwaiswa Kamuli District.
I am married with grown up children and lucky to be the only one wife to my husband.
When my husband was made heir to his father, he inherited (took charge of) two other families.
In the deceased’s will, he indicated that my husband should take care of five pieces of land he had retained and in appreciation for being a good daughter-in-law; he had given the land to me.
Trouble started when my husband’s relatives demanded for his share arguing that a woman married to their clan could not inherit five pieces of land.
Whenever we planted boundary markers (ebirowa), they would uproot them at night and threaten me, daring me to go near the land.

I ran to the clan, Local Councils and Police for redress to no avail. They seemed to side with the traditional view which denies women property.
I approached UWONET which listened to my plight, offered legal advice and took up the case with the community forcing the family to chicken out after being educated on property matters.
For the last four months, the boundary markers we planted have not been uprooted and relations with the clan have improved. Now they request my permission to cultivate the land. They look at me as their mother.

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