DSD launches #OneVoice campaign, survivors share their journeys
Today marks the end of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, but it also signals the start of 365 Days of Activism and our continued commitment to addressing gender-based violence.
The Department has launched the #OneVoice United Against Gender-Based Violence campaign, where we’ve partnered with actress Namisa Mdlalose to lend her voice in telling the stories of eight of our clients. These survivors bravely shared their stories in the hope that it would raise awareness about the various forms of gender-based violence, and inspire others to seek help.
The stories of these survivors and many others show that addressing gender-based violence may require multiple interventions, as it often intersects with child protection services, substance abuse services, family services, as well as victim empowerment services.
During the 2019/20 financial year, 23 672 people had access to victim empowerment services provided by the department and its funded NGOs partners. There had been an increase in demand for psychosocial support, as well as trauma support services from Thuthuzela Care Centres and the courts.
The Department currently funds 19 NPOs that specialise in the delivery of shelter services to victims of crime and violence, in vulnerable communities. Six more shelters are expected to be operational next year.
“Gender-based violence has become deeply entrenched in our society, leaving many people impacted by the accompanying trauma. We all need to commit to speaking up when we see acts of violence committed. I thank all of the survivors who have shared their stories, as well as our NPO partners working tirelessly in this field,” says Western Cape Minister of Social Development, Sharna Fernandez.
“One Saturday night, my friend and I were walking home. While we were walking a man appeared out of nowhere and started chasing us. We both ran, but my friend ran faster and she got away. The man raped me. During the time of that incident I was 15 years old. I was very ashamed and never told anyone what happened to me. I started drinking and using tik just to forget. Things got worse.
I eventually met my husband and had two children, but my happiness was short lived. I would leave my children with my husband for days to drink and do drugs. He sought help for me. A social worker gave me counselling, and I was admitted to a rehabilitation centre.
My life started to change gradually. Today I am healed. I am happy in my marriage. I am a better mother to my two children. I am physically and mentally healthy.”
“My brother was my rapist. It started when I was seven years old, up until I was 15. I told my family about what was happening, but they never believed me. Nobody helped me. The most painful thing was telling my mom about it, and she called me names and blamed me for seducing my own brother.
Growing up, I never saw the point of living and suffered from depression. In 2018 I decided to get help. I went for counselling and I am so grateful that I took that decision. I managed to overcome my fears. I reported my brother for stabbing me, and had the courage to report the sexual abuse that my brother put me through over the years.
Today, I am a proud mother of two boys and have a partner. To all the women that are traumatised by abuse, go out and seek help. We all have the power within ourselves if we connect to the right people.”
“In 2014 I was raped by a man. People in the community made judgments and comments to me. It was hard. Nobody deserves to be raped because they are a lesbian. Although I have my family, I didn’t want to burden them with my trauma.
I reported it. While I was in therapy, I was raped again. The social worker met me at the police station and I reported the incident. I was supported through both court cases. I knew I was not alone. Trauma doesn’t just go away. I find that I can be good for long periods then something will trigger me and I will be back in a dark place. In times like these, I know that I am never alone, and the organisation is a call away, and I feel supported, and I can get through it again.”
My 14-year-old daughter was placed in foster care. She was sexually abused by my husband. While being with this perpetrator, I was physically, emotionally and sexually abused. He was incarcerated, and upon his return, I had to flee with my children. My children suffered trauma and feared him. We were admitted to a shelter during the lockdown. I have received counselling, parenting classes and life skills to empower myself. I had an opportunity to spend time with my children in a safe environment. My youngest daughter received play therapy to process her emotions. She has since showed a vast difference in behaviour. The process of reunifying my 14-year-old into my care has started. My children and I are now living in peace, bonding and spending quality time with each other. I have since regained my self-esteem and self-worth.
“I encourage anyone who has experienced gender-based violence, or who has been impacted by it, to reach out for help and start the journey towards healing,” says Fernandez.
For more information about the campaign and DSD services, visit www.westerncape.gov.za/onevoice or visit the Western Cape Government’s Facebook and YouTube channels to view the videos.
Where to go for help?
Gender-Based Violence Command Centre: Call 0800 428 428 or dial *120*7867#
National Shelter Movement (24 hour line) 0800 001 005
The Human Trafficking Resource Line: 0800 222 777
Department of Social Development Toll Free line: 0800 220 250
Childline 0800 055 555