Speaking out can set you free,What do you think of when you see a butterfly? Beautiful colours! Freedom after the struggle to break out of a cocoon! The sky is the limit! Reaching up; reaching out! These were just a few of the answers given by survivors of gender violence who have chosen to tell their stories through the GL “I” Stories project. The butterfly is the symbol of the “I” Stories brand that these women and men have created, as well as a profound metaphor for their lives.
The stories are powerful narratives of the pain of abuse, and very often the triumph of surviving and moving on. What they share – the slow realisation of a deteriorating relationship; social and cultural expectations; concern for children; feeling like there is nowhere to go; decisions to leave and the challenges of standing alone; demanding change and the overwhelming desire to speak out – echo thousands of more voices across the country and the region. These stories not only share a glimpse of individual experience, but together form an important body of knowledge into the reality of gender violence in Southern Africa.