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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

Eugene de Kock, FW de Klerk and forgiveness – Prof Gobodo-Madikizela’s take on gestures of reconciliation
2015-02-06

What Prof Pumla Gobodo-Madikizela, Senior Research Professor in Trauma, Forgiveness and Reconciliation Studies at the University of the Free State, found over the years talking to Eugene de Kock, was a man tortured by his past. By the deeds he has committed.

“As a result he was confronting these – not as a cog in a machine – but as a person who actually did the deed himself,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela said during an interview [https://soundcloud.com/primediabroadcasting/dr-gobodo-on-de-kock-parole] with Pippa Hudson on Cape Talk. A man taking personal responsibility.

Against the backdrop of De Kock recently granted parole, what, then, is the nature of forgiveness?

“Often people think when they forgive, you forgive and forget. That’s not the point,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela says. “Forgiving, in fact, I found is the wrong word. We are using forgiveness for a range of responses. What I find useful in this kind of work is to think about how people change, how people are transformed. In other words, to think about our empathic connection to people who are our former enemies.” In other words: to reach a place where both parties can see each other as fellow human beings. “Somehow when a person expresses remorse – in the way Eugene de Kock has done – it opens a door for the different kinds of relationships to that traumatic past,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela says.

In an article for the Sunday Times, Prof Gobodo-Madikizela refers to the motion to immortalise F W de Klerk by renaming Table Bay Boulevard after him. In this piece, she clearly points out that De Klerk is not without blood on his hands. She agrees with Mayor Patricia de Lille’s support of this tribute to De Klerk, though, when De Lille refers to ‘the spirit of reconciliation that Tata Madiba believed in’.

Justice Minister Michael Masutha – who granted De Kock parole – and De Lille “are right in evoking the memory of Nelson Mandela through these important gestures of reconciliation,” Prof Gobodo-Madikizela remarks. The need to return to Nelson Mandela’s vision, she adds, remains urgent.

Read Prof Gobodo-Madikizela’s full article, published in the Sunday Times, here.
For Prof Gobodo-Madikizela’s response to Eugene de Kock, FW de Klerk and reconciliation, read here.

 

For more information or enquiries contact news@ufs.ac.za

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