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Miss Varsity Cup Finalists are Beautiful: Inside and Out

Posted in Articles, Campaigns

Miss Varsity Cup 2017 Safe House Stellenbosch

Being a unique part of the off-field entertainment

Miss Varsity Cup and Miss Varsity Shield has become a highlight that makes the Varsity Cup such a major success. Young ladies from the various participating campuses are dominating the initiative by entering the competition to showcase their inner beauty by mixing a significant amount of passion for sport and giving back to their community through rugby.

The 12 Miss Maties Varsity Cup finalists have been Inspired and mentored by the reigning Miss Varsity Cup Joy Mashego.

Kay-Dee Adams, one of the 2017 finalists, spoke on behalf of all the girls.

“We are blessed with the opportunity to be involved with the “Keep the Aggro on the field” campaign backing our boytjies and more specifically being involved with the L’Abrie de Dieu Safe House, shelter for abused women.”

[Read about how Maties Rugby takes lending a hand at Safe House seriously]

The finalists have been visiting the Safe House and pampering the women, making them feel beautiful again and reminding them of their worth. All agree that it was a humbling experience that touched each of them deeply.

“We saw in the eyes of the women what it meant to be brave, to stay strong and to carry on.”

Maties most beautiful ladies are excited to be actively involved in Safe House, and part of their contribution towards the Safe House currently is helping to find sponsors and donors for the Safe House’s Building project. They are also running a raffle in order to raise funds towards the needs of the shelter.

“We are so happy to see the dreams and goals of a selfless initiative which counsels and supports abused women and children within our Stellenbosch region, are progressively becoming a reality and the community.”

A message from the finalists:

“To the strong and courageous women at L’Abrie de Dieu: Take those words from Rupi Kaur, ‘The world gives you so much pain and here you are making gold out of it.’  We want to say: You are incredible, you make this world a little more wonderful. You have so much potential and so many things left to do. Better things are coming your way, so please hang in there, you can do it.”


“Trying to move mountains everyday as a team with Godfidence, makes us not only fighters but more so overall winners.”


Safe House wishes to say a BIG thank you to these inspiring young women for everything they have done. You are all beautiful inside and out, and we wish you all the best in your future.

Inspired to become a volunteer? Perhaps you want to make a donation? We’d love to hear from you. You can become a Friend of the Safe House by committing a small monthly amount, of your own choosing, to our work.


Varsity Cup Finalists 2017: 
• Annemika Kearney
• Tamsyn Jack
• Retlametswe Losaba
• Tenielle Jonkers
• Kay-Dee Adams
• Nicola van der westhuizen
• Daniella Jacobs
• Carla Truter
• Lethukwenama letsoalo
• Yemurai Muchenje
• Victoria Leigh Parker-
• Kanja van der Merwe

Please support them by hashtagging!







Bystander to abuse? Here are some truths

Posted in Articles

Abuse can come in different forms and has a direct effect on the person being abused, but what about those who witness these violent events? Especially children or even babies who are constantly living in an environment where there is abuse happening. They grow up in a space that is constantly filled with anxiety and tension.

There are certain beliefs that people understand about abuse that are misguided or wrong. These beliefs; only help to make the problem worse and allows the abuse to continue.

Here are a few truths about domestic violence

  • Domestic violence is not a private matter to be dealt with secretly. It is a crime and we all have the responsibility to speak out against it.
  • Very young children are very prone to the effects of witnessing violence and abuse.
  • Any form of abuse and violence is not an acceptable way to treat somebody else, nobody ‘deserves’ that kind of treatment especially when trying to resolve conflict.
  • Babies are affected; even in the womb the baby can become distressed because the mother herself is under stress. Babies may have a low weight when born or can result in premature birth. Babies can be inconsolable and irritable as a direct result of living in an abusive environment.
  • Young children have very good memories and can recall traumatic events, so they do not forget over time. They will remember witnessing the abuse when older.


  • Domestic abuse can occur in families of all races and in both the rich and poor. Location is also not a barrier and domestic violence can happen in urban or rural areas.
  • Violence is not the only form of abuse adults can use; manipulating or using emotional abuse towards their children for their own ends without considering their child’s needs or rights.
  • Children will usually not tell anybody about any form of abuse they are witnessing or experiencing. They are too fearful or do not understand what is happening.
  • Every child who witnesses abuse is a victim of the abuse. The effects of witnessing abuse, has a profound and long lasting effect.

Witnessing violence can have long term effects on children who experience this and these children are more prone to suffer from anxiety, depression and other external displays such as fighting or bullying.

A child that eyewitnesses the abuse or violence will have inappropriate ways of trying to resolve conflict and thinks this behaviour is okay.

effects of witnessing abuse safe house stellenbosch

General effects of abuse in children who witness violence:

  • Problems with sleeping
  • Appetite is affected
  • Blame themselves for the problem
  • Aggressive behaviour, anxiety and depression
  • Problems and difficulties with learning and at school
  • In adolescents, absence from school, poor behaviour, may start to use drugs and a chance that they may have earlier sexual activity.

What can be done to help an abusive situation?

The first step is to make sure that the abuse does not remain a secret and is not a shame. Having a trusting relationship; outside family, doctor or other professional you can talk to about the abuse. You need to obtain help from a Counsellor/Therapist or Social Worker. There are also special domestic violence organisations in your community, which will help you and Safe House in Stellenbosch is one of them.

Are you a victim? Contact us.

Get Involved

If you would like to support the work we do, then Volunteer or Donate. Friends of the Safe House pledge a monthly contribution of their own choice via stop order – and that makes a big impact.


Keep the Aggro on the Field

Posted in Articles, Campaigns

Safe House Stellenbosch must be one of the luckiest NPO’s in South Africa. Do you know why? Because they have been adopted by the FNB Maties rugby team as their local shelter of choice for the Varsity Cup ‘Keep the Aggro on the field‘ campaign.

All Varsity Cup & Shield universities accepted the challenge of identifying a local shelter or organisation that counsels and supports abused women. Varsity Cup gave each of the 13 universities the right to commit support and appropriated funds towards their social involvement projects. What makes the campaign even more impressive is the financial commitment is not enough, the first-team players themselves must physically be involved in lending a hand – literally.

In an effort to gain more exposure for this worthy cause, every man of the match during the Varsity Cup tournament will be awarded a pink shorts to wear in the next match. The idea is that through the very masculine and aggressive game of rugby, more men are made aware of the effects of domestic violence on women and children. Sport can be used to channel frustration and aggression in a positive way.

Maties Rugby Safe House Stellenbosch

And if the success of the drive is to be measured by ‘lending a hand’ literally, then the FNB Maties do come out tops. At Safe House they have been instrumental in various improvements and building projects at the house. Everything from creating or improving on a number of areas at the house like the serenity garden for the victims and the play area for the children. The play therapy room, which has been become a very important part of the counselling that children receive when they come to Safe House [read more here].

FNB Maties have committed to support the L’Abrie de Dieu Safe House because we are a social outreach mission that aims to address the plight of vulnerable women and children who fall victim to violence.

Did you know that Safe House Stellenbosch is the only shelter of its kind in the Greater Stellenbosch Municipal District for victims of domestic violence and abuse?

Lee Rossouw, the manager of Safe House says, “The moral regeneration movement of the South African government has identified women and children at risk as the number one social priority that requires government and civil attention. This is where the Varsity Cup Organisation and Maties Rugby Club has stepped up to the plate and accepted the challenge to make a difference. Their “keep the Aggro on the field” campaign might touch so much more lives we are not even aware of, because we have seen that just by speaking out against domestic violence and being supportive of those directly affected we can all make a positive difference! We want to thank The Varsity Cup Organisation and Maties Rugby Club for their yearly sponsorship and direct involvement in our shelter!”

FNB Maties have been supporting Safe House for the past 6 years after they heard about our organisation. Their ‘Keep the Aggro on the Field’ campaign was launched 10 years ago. If you would like to get involved in the work Safe House does read more here how you can become a Friend of the Safe House. Or if you feel compelled to make a donation, click here. Keen to volunteer, read more here.



Thinking about the four types of love this Valentine’s Day

Posted in Articles

February is always marked by the hype around Valentine’s Day. The emphasis is always placed on romantic love (Eros), but did you know that the Greeks have four different words for love? These words diversify love and best explain it in its various forms.While the Greeks have four words to describe love, three types of love are specially mentioned in the Bible: Eros, Agape and Philos.

Εροσ (Eros)

  1. This love is erotic love
  2. Eros is a love of passion, an overmastering passion that seizes and absorbs itself into the mind.
  3. It is a love that is an emotional involvement based on body chemistry.
  4. The basic idea of this love is self-satisfaction.

Eros is a Greek term which actually means desire and longing. And according to the Greek methodology, Eros is the name of the Greek god of love. Also referred to as erotic love, this is a selfish kind of love as it associated with sexual love. Eros love is based on the strong feeling we have against one another and it usually develops during the first stage of a romantic relationship. This kind of love is based on the physical traits. And unless it is redeemed by the Lord’s presence; this type of love can end up being possessive, since it always seeks to first conquer and then control.

If you want to read more about why women stay in abusive relationships, click here.

God created physical attraction between a man and a woman, but He never intended for it to be selfish. He created desire and longing which makes up sexual love which is crucial in any marriage. This love was meant to be preserved between a couple and it is essential for any health marriage. And since it is mostly based on self-benefit, many people tend to fall out of love if they are not happy with the marriage.

Ἀγάπη or Ἀγαπάω (Agapē or Agapaō)

  1. .Agapē is called out of one’s heart by the preciousness of the object loved. It is a love of esteem, of evaluation. It has the idea of prizing. It is the noblest word for love in the Greek language.
  2. Agapē is not kindled by the merit or worth of its object, but it originates in its own God-given nature. God is love.
  3. It delights in giving.
  4. This love keeps on loving even when the loved one is unresponsive, unkind, unlovable, and unworthy. It is unconditional love.
  5. Agapē desires only the good of the one loved. It is a consuming passion for the well-being of others.

This is a special term which represents the divine-love of the Lord towards his Son Jesus Christ, the human beings and all believers. This is the best of the three types of love in the bible, in fact Jesus himself showed this type of divine love to his Dad in heaven and humanity. Agape love is the love that God commanded all believers to have for everyone whether he/she is a believer or not. Agape love should never be determined by our feelings; it is more of a set of behaviours or actions. With agape, you do not have to actually feel it for you to give it, which means that you can be able to show love without feeling anything at all. At times feelings can follow after showing this kind of love.


  1. Phileō is a companionable love.
  2. This love speaks of affection, fondness, or liking.
  3. Kenneth Wuest says, “It is a love that is called out of one’s heart as a response to the pleasure one takes in a person or object.”
  4. Phileō is a love that responds to kindness, appreciation, or love. It involves giving as well as receiving; but when it is greatly strained, it can collapse in a crisis.
  5. Phileō is a higher love than eros because it is our happiness rather than my happiness.
  6. This love is called out of one’s heart by qualities in another.

This is a unique kind of love like the one you have for friends. It refers to loving one another just like your brother or sister. This love is for a pal who is really close and dear to us and it is characterised by various different shared experiences between two people. In fact, this is the kind of love that many Christians tend to practice towards one another. And although philos love is really wonderful, it is not that much reliable, since it can end up souring at times as we have all experienced at some point in our lives.

If you have a desire to express philos in a hands on way, why not join our group of volunteers?  You can also become a friend of the Safe House, find out more here.

The fourth and final type of love not specifically mentioned in the Bible is storge.

Στοργή (Storgē)

  1. This love has its basis in one’s own nature.
  2. Storgē is a natural affection or natural obligation
  3. It is a natural movement of the soul for husband, wife, child or dog. iv. It is a quiet, abiding feeling within a man that rests on something close to him and that he feels good about.

We at Safe House also believe that loving yourself is a crucial aspect of healing yourself after being a victim of abuse. You can read an article about loving yourself here.

If you would like to watch a video about how the types of love are explained in the Bible, click on the link below.


Sources: &




Understanding the role of Play Therapy for kids at Safe House

Posted in Articles


 What is play therapy?

Play therapy is a form of counselling that therapeutically engages the power of play to connect with and help children, to stimulate optimal integration and individualisation. Children will engage in play behaviour in order to work through their interior obstructions and anxieties without realising it.

“In Play Therapy, toys are like the child’s words and play is the child’s language.”

(Gary Landreth)

Children who are exposed to domestic violence often blame themselves for not being able to protect their mother or not reacting appropriately.  These children need to learn how to self-nurture because this integrates the different forms of the self, whether it is their good traits or traits which still need development.

Play therapy helps children to nurture themselves and also to forgive themselves.

Play Therapy’s main goal is to strengthen the child’s inner support structure.  This is done by sessions with the child and is fundamental to the child’s ability to work through deep-seated, blocked emotions (Oaklander, V. 1997:292).

Kids at Safe House play therapy

Our social worker and kids at Safe House.

When the child witnesses abuse or endures the abuse herself, it can cause long lasting emotional trauma, which can, when not addressed correctly, have lasting effects until adulthood.

 Abuse has the ability to take away the sense of safety and also trust in others.

It is therefore important that a therapeutic relationship forms between the social worker and child, and that the child can answer yes to these critical questions:

  • Am I Safe?
  • Will I be able to handle this?
  • Will I be accepted?

During the therapeutic relationship building progress, the child is assessed.  Assessment is done in sync with interviews with the biological mother to form a clear understanding of the child’s needs.

You can watch this video of a mock play therapy session to gain some more insight into this valuable means of counselling.



For a child to strengthen their inner support structure it is important to focus on contact-making and building self-support.  Focus is placed on how the child makes contact with others, and how much of the real self the child is able to show to the world.

Emotional expression is a part of play therapy. It is during these sessions that the child comes into contact with unexpressed emotions.  This phase is especially important when working with children that have been through abuse, because the child learns how to express aggressive energy in a healthy manner.

When a sound therapeutic relationship has formed with the social worker, the areas that need development are addressed by using numerous forms of play interventions:

–         Drawings and clay modelling

–         Graphic family portrayal

–         The use of animal cards

–         Fantasy techniques

–         Sand play

–         Stories

Play therapy uses a variety of techniques that provide an opportunity for the child to communicate emotions, feelings, experiences and behaviour. Therapists use the responses in play to intervene and to heal.


Play therapy at Safe House


We are happy to report that the children at Safe House look forward to their counselling sessions in the Play Therapy Room. They experience the Play Therapy Room as a safe area which reassures and encourages them to contribute, thus leading to an increase in the successful completion of the programme.

The mothers say that they can see an improvement in their children’s behaviour as they become less fearful and anxious. Through Play Therapy children can now deal with their traumatic experiences, and their heart-breaking point of views are altered so that they can become children again.


If you would like to become involved in Safe House by donating, volunteering or making a monthly contribution, we’d love to hear from you.




Children: Invisible Victims of Domestic Violence

Posted in Articles

Kids who live with domestic violence act differently. Please watch this video.

Imagine being a child growing up in a home where you watch your mom being beaten up by your father. Imagine lying awake at night listening to it. Imagine just being a kid, afraid, unable to properly process it all and feeling helpless. Every. Day.

Children of abuse feel isolated and vulnerable because they are expected to keep the family secret and in many instances, they do not even talk about it among themselves. These children do not know what it’s like to have their parents’ attention, affection and approval. Because mom is struggling to survive, she is often not present for her children. Because dad is so consumed with controlling everyone, he also is not present for his children and as a result these children become physically, emotionally and psychologically abandoned.

Here are some signals that all is not well on the home front.

Emotions: fear, guilt, shame, sleep disturbances, sadness, depression, anxiety and anger (at both the abuser for the violence and at the mother for being unable to prevent the violence).

Physical responses: stomach aches and/or headaches, bedwetting, and loss of ability to concentrate.

Behaviours: acting out, lying bullying, cheating, withdrawal, or anxiousness to please. The children may exhibit signs of anxiety and have a short attention span which may result in poor school performance and attendance. They may experience developmental delays in speech, motor or cognitive skills. They may also use violence to express themselves displaying increased aggression with peers or mother. They can become self-injuring.

Even infants suffer in homes where domestic violence is the norm. These babies cry excessively and have problems with eating and sleeping.

Long term effects for children who witness abuse 

Children who grow up surrounded with fear and anger, as is the case with domestic violence, have low self-esteems and self-worth. They lack confidence, feel guilty and ashamed and blame themselves for the abuse.

Children who grow up observing their mothers being abused, especially by their fathers, grow up with an unhealthy view of intimate relationships in which one person uses intimidation and violence over the other person to get their way.

Most experts believe that children who are raised in abusive homes learn that violence is an effective way to resolve conflicts. They may even replicate the violence they witnessed as children in their teen and adult relationships and parenting experiences.

Boys who witness their mothers’ abuse are more likely to batter their female partners as adults than boys raised in nonviolent homes.

For girls, adolescence may result in the belief that threats and violence are the norm in relationships.

Children from violent homes have higher risks of alcohol/drug abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, and juvenile delinquency.

We at Safe House have come to acknowledge that we are not only a safe haven for the primary victims of abuse, but also their children. This is why we invested so much of our resources in providing a place of healing for our invisible victims, the children. Over the years we have equipped our garden with a well-equipped play area, and our resident Social Worker, Blanché, counsels the children with Play Therapy in our designated Play Therapy Room. Helping the children to heal is a major step in stopping the vicious cycle of abuse.

Our next blog post we will share more about Play Therapy so look out for it.

At the Safe House we are privileged to be able to witness the incredible transformation from scared and anxious bundles of nerves when they first arrive to joyful, happy and hopeful children with new sparkle in their eyes after only a few weeks of care and safety. We can learn so much from children about resilience and hope.

We would love to be able to help more children and families overcome abuse and build a better future. If you would like to open your heart and assist us, please contact us. We are always looking for volunteers and donations.

If you would like to become a Friend of the Safe House and commit to a monthly contribution, click here.