What We Do at Rape Crisis Helderberg
Rape Crisis Helderberg is a registered non-profit organisation committed to helping survivors of rape and abuse overcome their trauma through caring counselling amongst all the people in the Helderberg Basin and surroundings.
We help any person over the age of 18 no matter when the rape or abuse took place. Our services are available in English and Afrikaans. We believe that no one wanted to be abused and so we do not charge for ANY of our services.
Rape and sexual abuse can lead to serious long-term consequences for the survivor. It is necessary for the person to deal with the trauma to start healing. But it is very difficult to face hidden secrets. Talking about what happened remains one of the fundamentals of coping and starting to heal. The best way to get rid of a feeling is to feel it fully. We provide the space for that to happen.
Rape Crisis Helderberg has sought out the best methods to treat survivors of rape, molestation, childhood incest and abuse. We are committed to provide the support necessary for healing to take place.
Unfortunately rape and sexual abuse are an ongoing problem and our main purpose is to put back the pieces of lives shattered through sexual violence.
Our Primary Services
Our Crisis Centre
Our crisis centre, which to this day is unique in the Western Cape, was conceived by the police, Rape Crisis, the community and the Helderberg Hospital (previously Hottentots Holland Hospital) and was born on the 14th of August 1997.
Any person raped or sexually abused in our community who wants to lay a charge with the police must undergo a forensic examination. Unfortunately the only place that will do this is the Helderberg Hospital. Rape Crisis Helderberg has eliminated the need for victims to wait in the casualty of the hospital through our crisis centre on the hospital grounds.
Our crisis centre and offices are ideally situated next to the Helderberg Hospital which is the government hospital serving these towns. The hospital has made rooms available at no cost, supplies medication and covers all our telephone and electricity costs. An excellent working relationship between Rape Crisis Helderberg, the Superintendent of the hospital and the hospital staff continue to be the recipe for success.
Our crisis centre is used for rape intervention, counselling, group meetings and for general information for the public. Our administration offices are also at the crisis centre.
24-Hour Rape Crisis Intervention
We provide a 24-hour Rape Crisis Intervention service and work closely with the hospital and the police. When a client reports a rape case at a police station in our area, a volunteer counsellor on 24h call-out duty is contacted. The police, client and counsellor meet at the Helderberg Hospital. The counsellor then takes the client to our crisis centre, which consists of a cosy sitting room, kitchenette, bathroom, examination room and office.
Here, in a tranquil environment the counsellors are able to assist the rape survivor in a dignified manner, ensuring complete confidentiality. Immediate emotional support is the first step on the road to recovery. The client is then prepared and informed about procedures to follow. The counsellor informs the survivor about the medical examination, which involves collecting forensic evidence, blood tests and pregnancy testing.
After refreshments and when the client is ready for the examination, a district surgeon on duty at the Helderberg Hospital is called. In the privacy of our centre, the doctor proceeds to collect crucial forensic evidence and does a medical examination. The crime-kit and paperwork for court (required by law) is completed and extra blood samples for HIV and STD’s are taken for testing. If available, the underwear and/or clothing are given to the police for DNA identification and evidence. Medication is provided for STD’s and prevention of pregnancy. AZT (anti-retroviral drug) for the prevention of HIV/Aids is available.
The survivor is then able to take a long, warm bath, brush their teeth and is given new underwear and clean clothing. Further support and counselling is then provided and follow-up appointments are made. The police are called to fetch the client. The crime-kit, other evidence, a report from the volunteer counsellor and the J88 (District surgeon report) are handed over to the investigating officer and the police take the client home.
Counselling Services to Survivors and their Families
Survivors of rape who decided not to lay a charge are also seen at the Centre and clients helped at the intervention stage are urged to return for follow-up counselling. HIV results are discussed and post HIV counselling (if HIV +) is given. Transactional Analysis (a successful model for working through trauma) and PNI (Psycho-Neuro-Immunology) are very effective tools used for counselling. It is important to treat each rape survivor as an individual and try and understand what rape means to that particular person. A person’s religion, culture, class, race and gender may affect how they feel about being raped. The effects of rape are long term and rape survivors never forget being raped, but can learn how to deal with the memory.
Clients are assisted in obtaining interdicts, as the alleged rapists are usually by this time out on bail and clients feel unsafe or are threatened. We educate and prepare them for court procedures and even accompany them to court if they wish. Many of our clients are unemployed and we assist them in applying for training at one of our networking partners and/or try to find alternative employment for them.
Some ladies are already pregnant because of rape and we discuss various options with them. We follow a Positive Living program with HIV + clients, which involve affordable and practical ways to maintain a healthy body, mind and spirit.
We refer some of our clients to partner organisations for problems such as drug addiction, alcohol abuse and psychiatric help. We provide counselling for the family of the survivor because of the ripple effect of the trauma. In the event of STD’s, we support them with the necessary medication and provide follow-up blood tests for HIV.
Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse Counselling and Support Group
Our work with survivors of childhood sexual abuse starts when such an experience is revealed either at the intervention stage or through referrals from doctors, psychologists, clinics etc. Some people come forward for help through our awareness programmes.
Whether the sexual assault occurred once or many times is irrelevant, since the damage was incurred immediately. As with individual counselling, transactional analysis and PNI has been proved to be a successful tool in helping survivors on the road to healing.
These clients have to work through numerous social maladjustments arising from childhood sexual abuse. Alcoholism, drug addiction, prostitution, promiscuity, sleeping disorders, eating disorders, migraines, back or stomach pains are just a few of the physical consequences that victims suffer. Emotional problems emerging may include inability to trust, perfectionism, phobias, avoidance of both intimacy and emotional bonding.
Counselling these victims is a long and difficult process. It takes tremendous strength for a victim to put him/herself in a position to feel the pain.
The number of childhood abuse survivors constantly grows as more and more survivors find enough courage to break the silence. Together with individual counselling, these clients greatly benefit from group support.
Our SIA (Survivors of Incest Anonymous) support group was started in March 2002. Any person 18 years or older who was a victim of childhood sexual abuse may attend. This self-help group meets on a weekly basis and is a 12-step program successfully used in America. All literature used was written by incest survivors for incest survivors. Clients are able to share their secrets and experiences in a safe environment and the group offer comfort to each other. Feelings of being isolated and ashamed are addressed and here clients find great comfort in realizing that they are not alone.
HIV Counselling and Positive Living
Approximately three out of ten of our clients test HIV +. This is not necessarily due to the rape, but standard testing reveals their HIV status. With post-counselling all clients experience this result as HIV positive = Aids = death, but through a positive living approach we give them hope. Stress, malnutrition, poverty and loneliness are some of the factors that significantly hasten the progression to Aids of many people infected with the HIV virus. Healthy living has become the key, as Aids drug therapies are currently unaffordable to most. The positive living programme affects body, mind and soul.
We provide an immune booster, “African Solution” to our HIV + clients. This contains all the necessary nutrients and is available at R30,00 for a one month supply. Rape Crisis carries the cost for the clients who cannot afford this.
Rape Crisis Helderberg has a 24-hour help line and we receive calls from near and far. The majority of the incoming calls are from people needing counselling after being raped. Other calls we handle include problems such as suicidal tendencies, relationship problems due to rape, date rape and incest. During 2008 over 2160 people used this crisis line.
Online Counselling and Information
Towards the end of 2002, Rape Crisis Helderberg established a safe house. A few of the incest survivors who regularly attend our support group meetings are currently living in this home. They benefit greatly from this arrangement and living together provides a sense of family, a support network and loneliness is alleviated. We also refer rape survivors to this home in cases where the abuse happens where they reside. It is crucial that these clients be removed from their homes in order for their healing to start.
Awareness Creating Services
Community Visits and Talks
Rape Crisis Helderberg is regularly invited to give talks on the effect of rape and abuse at various community organisations and schools often approach us for educational talks. Over 30 000 learners have been reached in these programs. It is vital that we not only focus on care after a rape has happened but also continue our efforts in prevention of rape and abuse. To this end we have employed a Xhosa speaking counsellor who will focus on workshops for women and educational programs for the youth in the surrounding townships.
Rape Crisis Helderberg presents a volunteer training course on an annual basis. The course includes a variety of subjects such as counselling skills, HIV, other sexually transmitted diseases, abortion, incest, the perpetrator, court procedures and trauma. The presenters are professional psychologists, social workers, a public prosecutor and the police. Some lecturers offer their services free of charge, while others need to be reimbursed. Volunteers receive advanced training on merit pertinent to the intervention.
In November 2008 we were asked to train ten Malawian ladies. No rape crisis services are available in Malawi at present and these 10 exceptional ladies are part of a team who are going to try to start this important work in some of the communities in Malawi. These ladies will also take the training back to train others in their communities. You can read more about the group here. Seven South African’s joined the ten ladies, making it the largest group we have ever trained before. The training was held over two weeks and included nine presenters and covered twenty-five subjects.
As part of our fundraising, Rape Crisis Helderberg runs a second hand shop from a Wendy house on the Helderberg Hospital premises. This shop is run by Sam Mhlazan and helps with the running expenses at our crisis centre which amount to over R40,000.00 each month. Thanks to her hard work this year and the kind donations from community members, the shop made R51,662.20 from January 2008 to the end of October 2008!
Rape Crisis Helderberg is entirely funded by private donors, businesses and fundraising events held by our fundraising team. The ongoing fundraising is very necessary to pay the running expenses of a fully equipped crisis centre, counselling offices at the Helderberg Hospital.
Fundraising activities vary slightly from year to year depending on staff and volunteers available to run events and also the needs we have. Most years a Spring Fashion Show is held in the local community with about 300 ladies joining us for a morning of fun. A raffle is held once or twice a year, collection tins are placed in the community, as well as tele-fundraising and general fundraising activities. When the opportunity for stalls at local markets and fairs arise, we try to have a presence if staff and volunteers are available on that day.
Our fundraising team of staff and volunteers encourages you to make a donation to our organisation to help with the rape and abuse problems.
Direct bank deposits can be made to:
ABSA SOMERSET WEST
CHEQUE ACCOUNT: 405 4336 675
BRANCH CODE: 334712
Cheques can be made out to RAPE CRISIS HELDERBERG and mailed to:
P.O. Box 2011, Somerset West, 7129, South Africa
Online donations can be made through GreaterGoodSA for Rape Crisis Helderberg.