05 December 2014

Alcohol and drugs are the main causes of partner abuse in SA

Alcohol and drugs are perceived to be the leading cause of partner abuse in South Africa, according to the latest ‘Peace Maker Barometer’ survey.

The latest Peace Maker Barometer survey, completed on the 9th of November 2014, reveals that alcohol and drugs are perceived to be the leading cause of partner abuse in South Africa.

The survey was conducted online and was weighted to approximately represent South Africans living in Metro areas in terms of age, race, ethnic group and income.

The survey was conducted by Acentric Marketing Research (Pty) LTD on behalf of the Justice and Peace commission of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC).

Respondents who were aware of cases of abuse, were asked to rate the extent to which they believed various factors contribute to incidents of violence and abuse amongst friends, relatives and the community in general.


The results reveal a long list of perceived causes. While the cause most frequently perceived to be a main cause included substance abuse (alcohol or/and drugs) (54%), other causes were also frequently cited.

Other top causes include economic stress (39%) and the way the courts handle abuse (35%).

At the opposite end, the least likely causes of abuse included a perceived inequality between women and men in politics (20%), the perceived inequality in accessing education and training (21%) and traditional laws on child custody and maintenance after divorce or widowhood (22%).

Differences in opinion

Differences in opinion by demographic were also apparent. Male respondents interestingly were significantly more likely to view the laws on child custody and maintenance as a main cause of abuse (28% versus 16%).

Males were also more likely to believe that an inequality between men and women in accessing education and training was a main cause (27% versus 16%).

In line with international research, the survey highlights the complex nature of abuse. While almost 47% of respondents were aware of male respondents physically abusing female partners, 20% were aware of women who physically abuse male partners.

Almost equal percentages of male to female, and female to male verbal abuse occurred (48% to 47% respectively) and similarly 40% to 32% in the case of emotional abuse.

As part of the 16 days of activism, over 2 000 Catholic men across the country will be using the results of the Peace Maker Barometer to stimulate community dialogues and develop action plans to combat violence in their communities.

“As Church, we have a huge responsibility to inspire behavioural change in relation to alcohol abuse and gender based violence. We urge the police to develop firm partnerships with the Church, the community policing forums and tavern owners to ensure compliance and enforcement of the liquor laws.

We also ask the government to develop and implement a national strategic plan to combat gender based violence. Without such a plan, national efforts at ending gender based violence will always remain uncoordinated, under-resourced and ineffective.” Says Bishop Gabuza.