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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

Community engagement must be a core function of universities
2009-05-21

 
 Members of the NatCEMF Steering Committee are, from the left: Mr Jerome Slamat, Senior Director: Community Interaction, Stellenbosch University, Ms Beatrix Bouwman, Manager: Community Engagement, North-West University, Rev Kiepie Jaftha, Chief Director: Community Service, UFS and chairperson of the committee, Prof. Allan Femi Lana, Director: Institute for Rural Development and Community Engagement, Mangosuthu University of Technology, Prof. Seth Pollack, Fulbright Scholar, University of Western Cape (guest speaker at the meeting), Prof. Denver Hendricks, Director: Community Engagement, University of Pretoria, and Prof. Priscilla Daniels, Chairperson: Human Ecology and Research and CHESP Research Coordinator, University of the Western Cape.
Photo: Lacea Loader
 It is important that all tertiary institutions in South Africa should work together and commit themselves to advance the cause of community engagement in the country.

This was one of the main outcomes of the second meeting held by the National Community Engagement Manager’s Forum (NatCEMF) at the South Campus of the University of the Free State (UFS) in Bloemfontein recently. The meeting was attended by 34 representatives of 16 higher education institutions in the country.

“I am astounded at the interest in this matter. The representatives are committed to make community engagement a core function of their institutions and we all agreed that we should get more involved in expanding this across all institutions. A need for a formal structure for us all to work together and have a more collective voice was also identified,” said Rev Kiepie Jaftha, Chief Director: Community Service at the UFS and Chairperson of the NatCEMF Steering Committee.

“There is a growing need to expand and develop our engagement with communities – to share our experiences and best practices and to learn from each other. There are universities that are doing excellent work in this field and, by having a formal structure, we can do a lot more towards advancing community engagement,” said Rev Jaftha.

The meeting identified matters such as the coordination of higher education institutions’ involvement in community engagement, the facilitation of research about community engagement, promoting service learning as transformation, the establishment of a community engagement resource centre and the organisation of a national community engagement conference as some of its aims. A national steering committee was also elected.

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