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Taking care of survivors of GBV

Written by More Matshediso

Survivors of abuse must not feel they are being judged when they tell the police or other people what happened to them because this will make them unwilling to seek help. 

This is according to the spokesperson for the Department of Social Development, Lumka Oliphant. She says cases of violence or abuse can be reported at a police station, hospital, clinic, church, white door safe space or to a traditional leader, among others. 

“The frontline officials in government departments are well positioned to identify and report cases on behalf of the victims of gender-based violence (GBV),” she says.  

These may include government employees such as social workers, police officers, nurses, labour inspectors, teachers, court officials, municipal councillors, Thuthuzela Care Centre staff and immigration officials in the Department of Home Affairs.  

Oliphant says when reporting cases, victims need to be calmed down and reassured that they are safe in the presence of a law enforcement, health or social services professional.  

“This is because a traumatised person who has been violated will be confused, fearful and lack trust in other people. They would have experienced something that is unexpected from another human being and may also blame themselves for what has happened,” says Oliphant. 

It is important for the victim to speak out about abuse or violence, she says, explaining that they will need the support of their family or close friends.  

Oliphant says social workers who work for the department and civil society partners are always available to provide psycho-social support in order to empower victims.

In addition, the Khuseleka One-Stop Centres provide different services under one roof, including medical, legal, counselling and other support services. 

The department also has a GBV Command Centre (GBVCC) which will support and guide victims of violence and abuse. Oliphant says that during the pandemic, the GBVCC has also been advising the public on the various relief measures offered by government to help all vulnerable people.  

GBVCC contact details Emergency line: 0800 428 428 Please call me: *120* 7867# (supported by a USSD)

Skype: Helpme GBV (for members of deaf community) SMS: ‘help’ to 31531 (for persons with disability).