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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

MSc student plans to FEED our hungry planet
2015-01-27

Photo: Hannes Pieterse

Since attending the 2014 Youth Ag-Summit in Canada, Lisa Coetzee – an MSc student in Plant Pathology in the Department of Plant Sciences at our university – developed a plan to address hunger:

FEED – Forum of Education, Empowerment and Development.

Coetzee, together with a junior lecturer at Plant Sciences, Marguerite Westcott, started this student association to tackle the issue of food insecurity head-on.

Education, empowerment and development “are keywords vital to the solutions to poverty. Hunger is an issue which is found in our own homes. One in every four South Africans is food insecure. Hunger kills more people every year than Aids, malaria and TB combined,” says Coetzee.

“This forum allows awareness to be raised about the hunger situation locally and globally. FEED is talking about hunger and it is assisting in reducing it by reaching out to communities which are in need.

“FEED is the generation which is going to make a difference in eradicating hunger,” Coetzee continues. “We want students to think about how they can feed the hungry through what they are studying”. For Coetzee it is a high priority to ensure that the youth are aware of the importance to feed our hungry planet in a sustainable way.

Her philosophy on relieving hunger and increasing food safety is to enhance the efficiency of crop production, ensure crop security and reduce mycotoxins in the food we eat.

During the 2014 summit, Coetzee was elected to represent the African delegates on the Youth Ag Summit Committee. Ever since, she has been enthusiastically active in the agricultural community. As 43% of the globe’s farmers are women, Coetzee also feels she acts as a voice for female farmers in South Africa.

An important lesson Coetzee has learned is that there is power in one person to make a change – that we should start small but think big.

If you would like to get involved in this project, contact Lisa Coetzee on +27(0)51 401 9681 or email coetzeela@ufs.ac.za.

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