How To Protect Yourself As A Women In South Africa
In the past two weeks, I have learned more about the importance of boundaries than I have in my entire adult life. I used to keep adjusting my boundaries to try not to offend people. Now I understand that boundaries are about protecting yourself, your relationships and your values as a person and that no one should ever think they can take advantage of you.
Rape culture is on the rise in South Africa and it is deeply ingrained in our social issues that are more subtle, like how women are taught to prevent rape more than men are taught not to rape.
Many South African men have grown up in dysfunctional families and never established physical or emotional boundaries. They learned from a very young age that it was OK to take what they want without asking for permission, to barge into a room without knocking and that a girl's feelings didn’t matter.
A lot of us have been speaking out against this issue, but we are still not sure how effective the protest and social messages are. It might take a bit of time before real progress can be made, so in the meantime, one thing we can do to protect ourselves as a woman in South Africa is to learn to set boundaries and stick to them.
4 tips for setting protective boundaries.
1. Say no tactfully and with confidence.
The moment you hem and haw and provide long-winded explanations, the person has leeway to break down your defences. As a rule of thumb: if you say no once and the person asks again—it’s disrespectful. If the question is asked more than three times—it’s manipulation. That’s your cue to take action immediately.
2. Trust your instincts.
This could be in the form of a red flag or a sense of discomfort alerting you that the person has crossed the line. It’s important to pay attention to what’s going on internally and externally.
3. Know yourself.
If you don’t know what you stand for, you’ll tolerate anything and be stepped on like a human doormat.
4. Honour your feelings.
Playing the role of a nice guy/gal doesn’t get you anywhere. If you continue subjecting yourself to toxic relationships or environments, you’re only hurting yourself.
It’s important to establish values and boundaries, even if people don’t like it.
If you’re constantly trying to please others, you will often get taken advantage of or lose your sense of self. Let's start safely.