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14 June 2018 Photo iStock
Dealing with the trauma of sexual assault

University life is supposed to be one of the most enjoyable times of a person’s life. Unfortunately, for some this is the time they may fall victims to sexual assault.
 
The term sexual assault has shockingly become normalised in society and has become a common threat to university students. The University of the Free State (UFS) through its sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and sexual violence policy strongly condemns any form of sexual abuse. Dr Melissa Barnaschone, Director at Student Counselling and Development (UFS) says the university cares for the health and wellbeing of students and provides necessary support for victims of sexual assault and trauma.
 
It is unfortunate that sexual assault comes with many misconceptions that often shift responsibility and blame from the perpetrator to the victim. “It is important to always remember that it is not your fault; do not blame yourself,” says Dr Barnaschone. Helpguide.Org: Trusted guide to mental & emotional health says sexual assault leaves psychological wounds and sometimes long-lasting health challenges. Such trauma can severely affect a person’s ability to cope with daily academic, social, professional, and personal responsibilities.
 
Any sexual violence is a crime and as a victim, you are not to blame. Healing is achieved when you start to believe that you are not responsible for what happened to you. Visit Helpguide.Org for more information on post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma recovery tips and other related topics.

On this video clip, Dr Barnaschone shares some guidelines to deal with sexual assault and trauma: 

News Archive

Self-help building project helps to change lives
2017-12-15


 Description: Eco house read more Tags: Anita Venter, Start Living Green’, Earthship Biotecture Academy, construction skills 

Anita Venter, lecturer in the Centre for Development Support, with the residents of
the eco friendly house. Photo: Supplied

UFS PhD student Anita Venter did not know it in the beginning, but her doctoral research would eventually change her life and the lives of many others. 

The research was whether South Africa’s housing policies were socially and culturally responsive to grassroots reality in informal settlements. Venter agreed her research approach might have raised a few eye brows, but it was a journey she holds had more benefits than failures. 

Green living
For her case studies, Venter looked at ‘Start Living Green’ as a concept and further examined the implementation models of Earthship Biotecture Academy in New Mexico and Central America and the Long Way Home non-profit organisation in Guatemala. 

These groups train people with no specialised construction skills in applying and managing environmentally sound self-help building projects. Furthermore, their primary objectives were not building-related, but people-centred, with an advocacy role to create social, environmental and educational change through utilising the building technologies. 

It resulted in Venter signing up for a course in Guatemala to get the skills to implement her case studies here at home in Bloemfontein. 

An experimental mud, straw and waste material structure in her back yard grew into similar houses built in informal settlements, through the transfer of knowledge of indigenous building methods.  

Are rickety corrugated iron shacks only alternative?

Her case studies, one in Freedom Square in the Mangaung Metro Municipality, highlighted, among others, baffling tenure insecurities and “tangible conflicts” entrenched between Westernised and African perspectives on home ownership.

Venter says her thesis, in essence, did not oppose existing housing strategies but did challenge the applicability of an economically inclined model as the most appropriate housing option for millions of households living in informal settlements. 

The main findings of the case studies were that self-help building technologies and skills transfer could make a significant contribution to addressing housing shortages in the country; in particular in geographical locations such as the Free State province and other rural areas.

Venter’s own words after her academic endeavour are insightful: “These grassroots individuals’ courage to engage with me in unknown territories, gave me hope in humanity and inherent strength to keep on pursuing our vision of transforming informal settlements into evolving indigenous neighbourhoods of choice instead of only being living spaces of last resort.”

Positive results 
The study has had many positive results. The City of Cape Town is now looking at new innovative building technologies as a result. Most importantly Venter's study will open further discussions that necessarily challenge the status quo views in housing development. 

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