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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

Lunch-time lecture on the subject of contested memories
2011-08-23

 

Guests at the lecture from the left: Dr. Sheila Aronstam, a former UFS Council member; Dr. Eva Hoffman and Henya Bryer a survivor of the Holocaust
Photo: Amanda Tongha

Acclaimed Polish author and academic Dr Eva Hoffman visited the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Bloemfontein Campus on 16 Augustus 2010 to deliver a lunch-time lecture on the subject of contested memories.

Speaking about the after-effects of unjust violence on second-generation Holocaust survivors, Dr Hoffman drew some parallels between the history of Eastern Europe and that of South Africa, stating that with some categories of conflict and prejudice the context in this region of the world might not be too remote. Dr Hoffman, born to Jewish parents who survived the Holocaust, told the audience that in most instances the past was still alive in the present.
 
Talking about traumatic memories, Dr Hoffman revisited her family’s suffering during the Holocaust and stated that the second generation lives with the paradoxes of indirect knowledge. According to her there has to be acknowledgment of the injustice to put the conflict and tension inherited from a repressed history truly to rest. Referring to the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), she said wrongs could not be forgiven until they were admitted. 
 
Dr Hoffman, who is the author of books such as Lost in Translation: life in a new language and Stetl: the life and death of a small town and the world of Polish Jews, praised the university for being on the forefront of social issues in democratic South Africa.

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