Benni McCarthy joins Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA)
Posted: 25 November 2016 Time: 16:21
Benni McCarthy has joined the fight against abuse, to mark the beginning of the international ’16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children’ campaign.
The former South Africa international striker was born and raised in the notorious, poverty-stricken Cape Flats in Cape Town, and has admitted to being in an abusive household before going on to achieve world-famous football status.
The reigning Bafana top goalscorer has teamed up with child rights group Women and Men Against Child Abuse (WMACA).
“I’d like to help change the lives of those enduring a life of abuse and encourage them to stop living in the dark,” McCarthy tells KickOff.com after announcing his partnership with WMACA on Friday.
“People need to have that awareness that abusing women and children is totally wrong! Abuse is not only physical but also mental and emotional.
“By joining forces with WMACA, I think it needs role models and personalities to reach out to people and encourage them not to fear judgement.
“Change needs to happen, and that can only come if people seek help and speak out. It’s a great support mechanism for those who are weakened by their circumstances."
The 39-year-old, who currently holds a UEFA A coaching license, has opened up about his own experiences as a child growing up in a household where abuse was a common occurrence.
“My upbringing wasn’t the easiest, and I’ve seen so many of those people in my life, so to share my story with people would perhaps give them a bit of motivation to also stand up and be counted,” he adds.
“Growing up in the Cape Flats, and any underprivileged community, alcohol abuse is the number one catalyst for abuse and that’s what our families have to go through.
“My dad was a heavy drinker and sometimes he would behave like a thug by beating my mom up, so I’ve witnessed abuse first hand.”
McCarthy also speaks of the embarrassment that comes with being associated with abuse, and offers advice to children facing similar situations on how to still strive for greatness.
“Obviously, it was tough because you feel embarrassed and that leads you to withdraw from leading a normal life or childhood, and you become so scared that it might happen in public,” continues the former FC Porto star.
“Fortunately, for me, I had my football that served as the best possible distraction, so I kept myself busy on the football pitch 24/7, so I could get away from what was going on domestically.
“In the end, you just have to promise yourself that you want to make it so that you can change your family’s lives, as well as your own.
“It’s important not to be ashamed if you’re the victim – there’s nothing to be ashamed of if you’re a victim of violence or abuse. You have to be brave and strong.
“And, yes, it takes courage to speak out but it doesn’t make you any less of a woman or child if you’ve suffered.
"To share your story is the best because you get so much off your chest and it allows you to live your life and move forward in the right direction, and stops you from living in fear,” he concludes.