How you can help survivors of gender-based violence

LETTER TO THE EDITOR

JACKIE ORSMOND

I would like to respond to the enlightening article which was published recently by the GO! & Express.

Masithethe Counselling Services was fortunate to receive a visit last week from the DA Women’s Network (Dawn) leader Nomafrench Mbombo and a delegation to our Centre in Southernwood. The interest from women’s groups and government officials helps to highlight the plight of survivors.

I agree that there are insufficient resources for victims of GBV (gender-based violence) and we at Masithethe have for years relied on government and public support to fulfill our mandate, as funding can be challenging.

As a survivor may still be in shock after a rape, it is recommended that formal counselling is only offered after 72 hours. Counselling gives the survivor an opportunity to speak about their ordeal in a safe and nurturing environment.

After sexual assault, the immediate needs of a survivor should be met. These are:

  • Ensuring they feel safe as they may be feeling helpless, vulnerable and frightened;
  • If they are cold, make sure that you have a blanket or jacket to cover them;
  • If they have any injuries, ensure that these are attended to;
  • If they want to talk, listen without interrupting them;
  • Don’t ask probing questions, just be there for them;
  • Offer to call family or a friend;
  • Ask them: “How can i help you?” ;
  • Ensure confidentially at all times;
  • Be there for them, even just to hold their hand, and stay with them at all times;
  • Tell them what will happen next;
  • Avoid making promises, only offer support.

Thutuzela Care Centre at Cecilia Makiwane Hospital is a one-stop centre for victims where they can report the matter to the police, get the necessary medical examination by a doctor and receive treatment for their injuries.

Masithethe Counseling Services is a Victim Empowerment Centre which offers counselling, support, care and information to victims of crime. Our services are confidential and offered free of charge.

Jackie Orsmond is the director of Masithethe Counselling Services

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