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GBV (Gender-based Violence), the term for these hurtful and sometimes unforgivable acts; slowly our world is changing and people are recovering by keeping healthy, using natural remedies and therapies and cleaning up our world, making it a better place. Humans are resilient and much stronger than we can imagine. Society may be evolving but still we face abuse, violence and suicide as people strive to survive in this mad, mad world. We humans are vulnerable creatures, masking our pain, guilt and shame well; putting make-up on a blue-black eye, saying “I walked into a tree”, wearing a long shirt in summer as we hide our inflicted scars; remaining silent, living hidden in the ominous shadow of gender based violence.

GBV is not just male-against-female abuse. It can be sexual abuse, mental abuse, brother-fighting-brother or sister; it has no race or face and it can be in any relationship, a mother hitting her daughter, or a wife beating her husband… As the world is healing, we are in a healing process of forgiveness, respect and learning patience and humanity.

GBV, I want to call it “abuse-and-violence”, against women, men, homo- and bisexuals, you name it, it does not have a colour or a sexual orientation. It is universal. It is non-specific, with a few shades of variations.

Lady Gaga was Born That Way; she sings about choosing between fame and love, the paparazzi, anxiety, religion, depression, fashion and a Million Reasons to stay…

She chose fame, she believed in herself, her art and her beautiful mind – and fame and love found her.

Here is my story. . .

I spent six weeks in hospital after a nervous breakdown. I lost everything and was broken; my mind malfunctioned and I burned out. Too much work stress, home stress, fights, yelling, crying… the list goes on.  In hospital, a day felt like a week, a week felt like a year, you think you are mad, you look mad, you are lost. Tests, injections and hard-core medicine…

I had to forgive myself and let go of all my belongings, except the few boxes and my furniture that was saved and moved by family and close friends.

After eight months of spending most of my time in bed, I gradually started spending most days gardening, taking pictures and walking around, photographing cosmos flowers next to the road; travelling to my psychologist, whom I sometimes did not want to see, but who assured me I was going to be fine. She went through my rocky past, with violent, toxic ex-relationships in various shapes and forms, including alcohol abuse and sexual abuse. I had to reset my life and brain.

It was at this time, when I started thinking about a lot of things, that a very special person and mentor in my life phoned me. She confirmed that it was okay – it happens to all of us – and she gave me ‘the purpose to live on purpose’. I did market research and social media digital campaign designs, in bed. During January 2020 I started growing; I broke my pattern of depression and I started reaching out, with the help of many friends and grew my support system. I reconnected with most, lost some, made new ones and cut off some others, rebuilt my connections and found a caring and loving partner who believes in me and my way of thinking.

In the last two years, I have fully recovered (I think). I have a crowd of friends, a great family, the will to keep going after not wanting to live and new connections believing in my art and mind. I learned that I could live a life of health and inspiration, now investing my time in people, helping them recover and find their worth after a global pandemic.

 I received gentle people’s love, care and time, people who spent just 30 minutes having a coffee and actually talking to me, listening to my story.

I was offered a waitering job, which I hated, but I loved the fact that it got me out the house. I started to drive my car again; I made oils and cocoa coconut butter and honey chocolate fondant; I started healing myself more through art and spending time with myself and talking to people. A lot of people go through worse, much worse.

 Our minds get stuck in a familiar pattern of misuse and abuse, battered and bruised because we are different. We think differently. In a pattern of abuse, the substance abuse that often results causes our hearts to absorb the pain while our feelings thud around in our gut.

 Forgive yourself, forgive others, start living a life of purpose and move forward holding your head high, finding your little mustard seed of hope, and never get trapped in an abusive or toxic relationship. It’s these hurt, violent souls, stressed-out minds and broken hearts that are usually the violent party, as they have the most forgiveness to realise in their own hearts. 

Therapy, counselling, psychological and mind-repatterning treatments guide and help both the abuser and the victim to recover; this combined with kindness, understanding, respect and patience.

“Like a plant surviving the storm and fires in nature, we retract into our roots when we break; we start growing slowly, we recover, blooming after winter is over and we are okay.   Thank you to Odyssey Magazine for letting me tell my story” ~ Pieter-Willem

Pieter-Willem du Plessis is a champion of the downtrodden, a media boss and design dynamo; his personal Odyssey from breakdown to recovery is a beacon of light and inspiration to others. Ed