History of iThemba
The iThemba rape and trauma support centre is dedicated to offering comprehensive care for the survivors of traumatic events, as well as their family and friends. This care includes counseling, treatment for physical trauma, prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and the careful gathering of forensic evidence.
To empower, support and assist survivors of violence and sexual trauma through the process of healing and reconciliation in our community.
To offer support to people affected by trauma.
To enable a process of advocacy for these people
To educate and raise awareness about trauma in our Community
Our Aims are
To offer comprehensive care for rape survivors that includes counselling, treatment for physical trauma, prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and the careful gathering of forensic evidence.
To reduce violence against women through the process of research, lobbying, advocacy and education.
To increase public awareness about the effects of Traumatic Stress
To empower survivors of violence through the process of psychological and legal and emotional support.
A National Challenge
The challenges of providing an effective Trauma Support Service Delivery –
On a national level, the high levels of violent crime, especially social crimes such as rape, domestic violence and child abuse combined with low economic growth, high levels of poverty and widespread unemployment can lead to serious psycho-social consequences: (SAITS 2008)
Brian Mckendrick states in People and violence in South Africa, 1990 “ Simply by being a part of the (South African) society, the lives of all are touched- and tarnished- by violence: Perpetrating it, legally or illegally; being a victim of it, directly or indirectly and being a witness to it, first-hand or via the media.”
Violence effects change in our society, and our community and in the way we live life. Violence has a far reaching effect on the members of our society, whether one is the perpetrator, the victim or even if one reads or hears about violence. Violence changes our understanding of life. The trust we place in society and humankind is broken down, and we become numbed to the violence to the violence we see daily and come to accept violence as normal.
And so an unmistakable reality in South Africa is that crime and violence impacts in such a way that violence becomes for some the only method used to solve problems, for others an accepted way of life and for many a constant intrusion that disallows normal living, commonly known as traumatic stress.
Unfortunately, many South Africans are unable to access the psycho-social trauma support services for a number of reasons: Poverty, language and cultural barriers, Inadequate resources or services in the area, insufficient financial resources available to survivors, transport problems, and even if these barriers are overcome there are additional barriers faced at police stations where secondary victimization is more the norm rather than the exception.
According to the White paper on safety and security, there is a substantial need to “Improve the quality of service delivery to victims of crime” and that “victimization constitutes a violation of human rights. Empowerment of victims of crime therefore restores human rights and is an important element of police service delivery.” “International experience has shown that effective management of both direct and indirect victims and witnesses of crime is a vital part of successful police investigations. This is, in itself, integral to community policing which seeks to build relationships between the police and local communities.
It is here that victims and witnesses play an important role in assisting the police in the collection of evidence and through participating in the process of prosecution.
This means that improved victim support and empowerment can assist investigations and serve as a means of altering public perceptions of police effectiveness. Thus, the link between victim support and successful investigations is critical to improving service delivery and therefore to enhancing public confidence in the police.” (Department of Safety and Security, 1998)
In keeping with the spirit of the above-mentioned White paper and in an attempt to ensure victims in Gauteng have access to a full package of services that will restore them to a reasonable level of functioning post their experience of victimization, the iThemba Rape and Trauma Support Centre was established. The package of services includes medico-legal services, trauma support services and professional counselling services driven by traumatic stress psycho-social procedures and good practise models