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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

UFS research sheds light on service delivery protests in South Africa
2015-01-23

UFS research sheds light on service delivery protests in South Africa

Service delivery protests in the country have peaked during 2014, with 176 major service delivery protests staged against local government across South Africa.

A study by the University of the Free State (UFS) found that many of these protests are led by individuals who previously held key positions within the ANC and prominent community leaders. Many of these protests involved violence, and the destruction had a devastating impact on the communities involved.

This study was done by Dr Sethulego Matebesi, researcher and senior lecturer at the UFS. He focused his research on the dynamics of service delivery protests in South Africa.

Service delivery protests refer to the collective taken by a group of community members which are directed against a local municipality over poor or inadequate provision of basic services, and a wider spectrum of concerns including, for example, housing, infrastructural developments, and corruption.

These protests increased substantially from about 10 in 2004 to 111 in 2010, reaching unprecedented levels with 176 during 2014.

The causes of these protests are divided into three broad categories: systemic (maladministration, fraud, nepotism and corruption); structural (healthcare, poverty, unemployment and land issues); and governance (limited opportunities for civic participation, lack of accountability, weak leadership and the erosion of public confidence in leadership).

In his research, Dr Matebesi observed and studied protests in the Free State, Northern Cape and the North-West since 2008. He found that these protests can be divided into two groups, each with its own characteristics.

“On the one side you have highly fragmented residents’ groups that often use intimidation and violence in predominantly black communities. On the other side, there are highly structured ratepayers’ associations that primarily uses the withholding of municipal rates and taxes in predominantly white communities.”

 

Who are the typical protesters?

Dr Matebesi’s study results show that in most instances, protests in black areas are led by individuals who previously held key positions within the ANC - prominent community leaders. Generally, though, protests are supported by predominantly unemployed, young residents.

“However, judging by election results immediately after protests, the study revealed that the ANC is not losing votes over such actions.”

The study found that in the case of the structured ratepayers’ associations, the groups are led by different segments of the community, including professionals such as attorneys, accountants and even former municipal managers.

Dr Matebesi says that although many protests in black communities often turned out violent, protest leaders stated that they never planned to embark on violent protests.

“They claimed that is was often attitude (towards the protesters), reaction of the police and the lack of government’s interest in their grievances that sparked violence.”

Totally different to this is the form of peaceful protests that involves sanctioning. This requires restraint and coordination, which only a highly structured group can provide.

“The study demonstrates that the effects of service delivery protests have been tangible and visible in South Africa, with almost daily reports of violent confrontations with police, extensive damage to property, looting of businesses, and at times, the injuring or even killing of civilians. With the increase of violence, the space for building trust between the state and civil society is decreasing.”

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