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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

Dr Oprah Winfrey praises our university
2011-08-24

 

Dr Oprah Winfrey after receiving her honorary doctorate degree.
Photo: Rian Horn

Photo gallery

Video clip

Transcription (pdf document)
 

“I came 8 000 miles to say, thank you, Vrystaat!” and “God bless South Africa,” were the words Dr Oprah Winfrey used yesterday to respectively open and close her address to an overflowing Callie Human Centre on our Bloemfontein Campus.

Our university awarded an honorary doctorate in Education to Dr Winfrey during a stately, yet warm and cheerful affair yesterday, which saw the 4 500 seater Callie Human Centre packed to the rafters with adoring fans, staff members and students. 

The honorary doctorate is in recognition of her unparalleled dedication to improving the lives and futures of so many by improving education and ensuring that it is accessible to all. Through her award-winning show, The Oprah Winfrey Show (which concluded this year after 25 years of entertainment and service), and the various charity organisations she has established, Dr Winfrey has harnessed the power of her iconic stature in the struggle to eradicate poverty and make education accessible to all.

The ceremony’s audience was entertained by South African music legend, Ms Sibongile Khumalo, the Bloemfontein Children’s Choir, Bartimea School for the Deaf and Blind’s Sign Language Choir, and several other musical performers as well as dancers.

Dr Winfrey could not hold back her tears when Mr John Samuel, interim Director of our International Institute for Studies in Race, Reconciliation and Social Justice, described her as an “honorary daughter of South Africa”. She proved just how much the country means to her when she joined in the singing of the South African national anthem, Nkosi Sikeleli, despite struggling with the words in some parts.

According to Dr Winfrey, her interest in our university began after she had read an article by Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, in which he emphasised the need for South Africans to stop accepting mediocrity, if ever the country is to develop to its full potential.

She asked Mr Samuel to convey her message of support to Prof. Jansen and the wheels, which led to today’s great event, were set in motion. 

She also expressed her admiration of the transformation process at our university and our commitment to “reconciliation, peace and harmony”. “What has happened at the University of the Free State is nothing short of a miracle and this is truly what the New South Africa is about,” she said to loud cheers from the audience. 

To emphasise her point, she called the five workers from the Reitz video to the stage and used their forgiveness and acceptance of the students responsible for the video as an example of the healing achieved at the UFS. 

“Having seen this forgiveness has allowed me to expand my vision of what we can be.” She also delivered a message of encouragement and reminded students that anyone, despite their circumstances and background, could become successful and grow to overcome their obstacles, as she had done.

“Anyone can be successful if they put their mind to it, work hard and are diligent,” she said. “We must all strive for more than success, though, and fulfil the highest expression of ourselves as humans by realising who you are and what you are meant to be.”

Following her address, Dr Winfrey answered several questions from our students, giving them advice on, among other things, how to choose a career that is right for them, and good characteristics to look for in leaders and peers.

She also mentioned that several learners from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy, which has its very first group of Grade 12 learners this year, would be visiting our university next month in order to help them select a university to attend next year.

 

Media Release
25 June 2011
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Director: Strategic Communication
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: news@ufs.ac.za
  

 

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