Part 1

I recently did a talk on and Non-Violent Communication and Gender-Based Violence, here is what I spoke about.

Gender-Based Violence

Gender-based violence has been described by the World Health Organisation as a gross fundamental violation of human rights of epidemic proportions across the world, not only in SA.

  • I clearly remember the session when I was counselling a couple and the man mentioned that they’d had a disagreement, but then said that “everything was sorted out.” His girlfriend then interjected and said that his way of resolving the dispute and “sorting it out,” was beating her up. She was filled with rage, resentment and bitterness. I did not mince my words in telling him what I thought of that.
  • Unfortunately, I deal with similar cases regularly. Recently I got a call from a man saying his wife wanted out of the marriage. It emerged that she was ducking and diving from him and that he was having her followed and had others videoing her. She then showed me why she wanted out of the marriage: the bite marks and the swelling and scar from the fractured leg he’d given her, among other injuries.
  • Earlier this year in Australia, a husband set the car alight with his wife and 3 children in it & then killed himself. Previously, he had never laid a finger on her, but clearly had jealousy, suspicion, rage and hatred in his heart. He controlled her every move, always questioning her intentions. His actions were termed as “intimate terrorism” or “coercive control”, ending with the tragic death of the entire family.

Non-Violent Communication:

In my practice, “Spiritual Coaching”, I use ‘Compassionate’ or “Non- violent Communication’ between couples and family members who are struggling to deal with conflict, in a non-violent or non-aggressive way. I have studied NVC for some years now, first under a UN delegate, who was a certified NVC trainer. I then studied further with Tom Bond of NVC New York

NVC ,also known as “Collaborative Communication,” is an approach to non-violent living, developed by Marshall Rosenberg, an American clinical psychologist, starting in the 1960s. He made use of NVC to successfully mediate between faction groups and warring countries. eg. Ruwanda, Burundi, Serbia & the Middle East, to name a few.

Rosenberg devised a 4-step process of engagement for the parties in conflict, to come to a win-win outcome.


However, before we get there, what is most important is the intention of the two parties. One needs to ask: Is the intention in speaking to one another:

  • To get others to do what one wants, or
  • To foster more meaningful relationships and mutual satisfaction?

Similarly, is the intention in listening:

  • To prepare for what one has to say in reply, or
  • To extend heartfelt, respectful attentiveness, in order to really hear another person’s expression of feelings and needs; and ensure a quality connection between the two?

The 4 – Step Process of NVC

The process Rosenberg devised is called call OFNR:
(Observations, Feelings, Needs and Request)

1. Making Observations

As if you are a movie camera, which is a non-judgemental, objective recount of what has happened.

2. Expressing Feelings– how the incident has made you feel, without blame.

Not: “I feel that …” (that is judgement and a thought.)
Rather: “I feel isolated…” (That’s me owning the feeling.)

3. Communicating Needs that you would like to be met

e.g. The need for inclusion.

4. Making Requests, including the specific detail of what you would like to experience.

Not: “Be nice to me!” (That’s not specific enough and could be that you want affection, words of endearment, flowers, or who knows what!!)

Don’t make this a demand, we must be willing to hear a “no” or a “yes” as a response.

This process works in both directions, between the parties. In my sessions, I teach and mentor the process and couples are always amazed that the “elephant in the room” is no longer the dreaded hot spot of the relationship. They are able to talk about long-standing unresolved issues and feelings.

Simplifying it:

This easy- to -follow pattern forms the basics of OFNR:

Non-Violent Communication Sheet

An example: You’re out with your boy/girlfriend:

When you meet someone that I don’t know when we’re out together and you don’t introduce me,

I feel sidelined and unimportant because I have a need for recognition and inclusion.

Would you consider introducing me as your girlfriend next time that happens?

So, no blame or judgement, only “I messages,” which prevents fighting, arguing and defensiveness.