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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

Clarification of charges against the Reitz students
2009-10-24

Statement by Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Free State (UFS)

The University of the Free State (UFS) has not “withdrawn charges” against the four Reitz students. This needs to be clarified.

There are three processes underway, and they must not be confused:

  1. 1. The criminal charges against the students were laid by the Directorate of Special Prosecutions in the province, and the university has no say over those processes in the criminal courts. That process remains in place.

  2. The human rights charges are led by the Human Rights Commission, in the province, and the university has no say over those processes in the equality court. That process remains in place.

  3. The university simply withdrew its own complaint against the students, insofar as university processes are concerned, and on that basis decided to invite the students back to continue their studies and to re-open Reitz as a model of social justice and racial reconciliation as an exemplary university residence. These decisions alone fall within the realm of the university’s authority.

The decision with respect to the withdrawal of the university’s complaint against the students was based on two considerations:

a. the institution’s own accountability for what happened, and creating (or not interrupting) the conditions under which racism and racist attacks were even possible on the campus of an institution of higher learning. It is in this context that the institution has decided to offer reparations for harm to the dignity and esteem of the five workers.

b. the institution’s desire to create the conditions for racial reconciliation on a deeply divided campus, and in doing so to accelerate the chances of transformation at the UFS.

There were broad consultations with the Human Rights Commission, Cosatu provincial, Sasco, Nehawu as representatives of the workers; there were also discussions with the leadership of the Student Representative Council (SRC) about the need to resolve the Reitz issue outside of the courts; and the matter of Reitz and its resolution through negotiation was also raised with the Minister of Higher Education and Training. There were also meetings with the legal representatives of both the students and the provincial prosecuting authority.

There was a meeting with the workers to ensure them of the university’s full support for them as workers, but the case itself was only discussed with their representatives, Nehawu.

Sasco National has communicated a message of support to the university to return the two students and to re-open the Reitz residence.

 

Issued by: Lacea Loader
Deputy Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
19 October 2009

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