Month: February 2013




the faceless victim

Its Friday 08/02/2013 and I attended an event hosted by the District 6 Museum in support of the One Billion Rising campaign. This campaign is aimed at creating global awareness on violence against women and children and saying STOP, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! I was excited to be part of this initiative as I am very passionate about abuse. The event on this day was an “intimate conversations” segment where actual testimonies of abuse were given by survivors.  On 14/02/2013 our organization is also taking part in the “flash mob”dance against abuse… See image on the left in which i am wearing a mask…this symbolises the nameless victims of abuse and violence.

My thoughts: 

Those who gave their testimonies portrayed an inner strength which I thought immediately was divine intervention at play.  When I got home after hearing their stories I did not plan it but I started singing a worship song and then immediately I was moved to prayer. My words surprised me because they were word of praise to God for the strength that was evident in the survivors of abuse and violence. I felt so much gratitude because I realized there was omnipresence at that

They spoke of gruesome violence and abuse happening to them. They did not cry as they spoke in detail…the audience was moved to tears but you could tell the survivors had gotten to an acceptance phase and had dealt with their trauma.  You see they have lived through it…. We cry because we are so shocked things like this are happening in our society. We are shocked that sex workers also get raped by their clients; they also get physically and emotionally abused. As society all we do is judge them for doing the job they do….we do not know what they have to go through.  The strength to stand in front of a crowd and admit that one is not perfect, that one has been marred and has scars but still having the beauty to say “HERE  IAM, I AM ALIVE, I AM HUMAN JUST LIKE YOU”.  We are shocked when we hear that lesbians get “corrective rape” or curative rape as if there is something wrong with them.  We cry in the audience because it is our nature as society members to get moved to sympathy and say “shame”. But what exactly are we doing to stop abuse and violence against
women and children?

Society is hurting, we cry for different reasons everyday.  We think we are free but we are not free. We think we are safe but how safe are we? Today it is someone else but tomorrow it can be you, your daughter, your cousin, your sister…. Violence against women and children has got to stop. Once you experience pain at the hands of another human being you just feel like the world is unjust, you question God, you angry and can be angry for years. There are so many silent victims but this is our chance to say “We are victims” but no more powerlessness, no more suffering in silence. We Rise We are not broken women. We are just women.

Rise against all forms of violence against women and children. Today I rise with the world and all women saying IT STOPS HERE!!!! It is not enough to educate women and empower them. Boys and men need to be taught how to respect women and girls.  The patriarchal society that allows the archaic mentality of men domineering over women should be done away with. God is watching, he has not forgotten. Who do you think gives  the strength to go on everyday ? 

RIP to all those who died in an act of physical, sexual and emotional violence. Your death is not in vain…

Survivors God is our strength and we grow from strength to strength. WE RISE!!!!!!


Topic 1:Trauma and Recovery

I am privileged to now be a part of a Social Workers Forum in Cape Town which focuses on refugees, youth and women. The forum is meant to have small group presentations and discussions once a month. I will be having an opportunity to present my own topic as well so this is so exciting. This kind of networking opportunity was absent for me in the first four years of my career and I really just felt a resounding “silence” of social workers in Cape Town. I am happy to have a circle of professional social workers to share their different experiences and knowledge of the profession.

The first group session with the ladies started yesterday 06/02/2013 and the topic of discussion was Trauma and Recovery taken from the bookm“Trauma and Recovery” : From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror by Judith Lewis Herman. Social Worker from the Adonis Musati Project presented and it was very insightful. The presentation focused on the stages of recovery from trauma and what was interesting for me was realizing that it is not an automatic process to get someone to
recover from trauma. As a therapist or by stander as the books calls it one has to be careful of the contradictions so as not to cause secondary abuse. The client should be able to tell their story as a way of reliving it and thereby dealing with it, but this should be done only after the client is ensured of safety first. Safety includes ensuring that the client who is a victim of abuse or a traumatic incident has taken care of her immediate environment, her body, material needs and relationships before they start delving into the details of the trauma.  Only then can they share their story and mourn.  The last stage is where they restore their connection to society and take back their power by redefining their dreams and goals and getting courage to move on. The stages look like this:

  • Establishing
  • Reconstructing
    the trauma story
  • Restoring
    the connection between survivors and community

The discussion that ensued was very enlightening. The main point for me was that society cannot begin to address women’s trauma in sexual and domestic life unless we also challenge the subordination of women and children. Unless the patriarchal and sexist society has been dealt with issues of women’s trauma by partners will not be completely resolved.  Issues such as returning back to the abuser due to cultural influences like ‘he is the breadwinner’, the Stockholm syndrome which talks about feelings of attachment to the abuser/hostage situation and the feelings of powerlessness the abused feels. There are so many factors that came up in particular trauma found in refugees fleeing war-torn countries. The need for safety is much more of a necessity in their case as they always fear persecution.

I must say I learnt a lot about how to deal with trauma just from this one presentation. Just learning that even with the children I work with I need to be sure the child is safe before they pour out their story, which means they need to build a trusting relationship with the therapist first.  Also knowing that resolving trauma is never a complete process, that the trauma will recur if triggered by some other life event for example a child who loses his father at 5 will mourn his father at every milestone: at 16, at 21, at 40. So it’s a never-ending process and we need to understand this and not push our clients
to a point of complete recovery. They can always come back and start the recovery process.

Another plus for attending this presentation was that I receive CPD points. CPD stands for Continued Professional Development and each social worker is requested to have a certain number of points per year. So I am on the right track.

Thank you for the forum idea; it is a most welcome opportunity for interaction and professional development. You never stop learning!!!!