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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

Gaza doctor speaks of hope and courage
2011-10-21

 
An emotional Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish talks about the loss of his three daughters 
Photo: Johan Roux

Listen to Dr Abuelaish's public lectures (audio)

In 2009 Israeli forces bombed the house of Palestinian doctor Izzeldin Abuelaish killing four people: three of his daughters and a niece. Speaking about this life-changing event, Dr Abuelaish delivered two public lectures at the University of the Free State (UFS) this week spreading the message of hope and peace.

Dr Abuelaish, who was introduced as the Nelson Mandela of Palestine by Prof. Jonathan Jansen, Vice-Chancellor and Rector, spoke emotionally about the loss of his daughters Bessan, Aya and Miyar.  He told the audience that there was no reason for them to be killed. His girls were armed with love, hope and education.

He urged people to have moral courage and encouraged them to strive for justice, truth and peace. When there is justice and truth, peace is a consequence. “As a medical doctor I never lose hope. By the end of this world we will forget what enemies did, but will never forget the silence of brothers.”

Dr Abuelaish spoke passionately about the role of women in society and said a country develops by how much it invests in women’s education. “We must realise the strongest members in a community are women. Women maintain the hope.”

Speaking about his life in the war, being born Palestinian, Dr Abuelaish said it was painful to hear that Palestinians are numbers and statistics. “When a soldier is killed in Iraq or another place, the screen speaks for days about what he ate and what he hoped for, others are figures and numbers.”

Dr Abuelaish, who wrote the book I shall not hate, A Gaza Doctor’s Transformational Journey of loss, Love and Change, said the death of his daughters made him stronger and more focused not to give up. “I swore to my daughters and God not to rest, I fully believe I will meet them one day. I will meet them with the big gift of justice.”  

Visit the website www.daughtersforlife.com to read more about Dr Izzeldin Abuelaish.

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