Women and children remain the key victims of domestic violence. As we have just celebrated Youth Day on 16 June recently, we find ourselves more aware of children’s rights and the violation of those rights in the context of the home where domestic violence is prevalent. What rights to children have? What are the tell-tale signs that your child may be abused? What can you do to facilitate their healing?
Our children are entitled to the most basic of rights, that in essence, allows them to be children without the stresses of being an adult. Some of the most basic rights include:
- To be protected against child labour
- To be cared for i.e washed and clothed
- To have enough food to be healthy
- To have an adequate education
- To speak out and be heard
- Access to health care when they are ill
- To be protected from harm (physical. emotional and sexual abuse)
- To have shelter and to feel safe
- To be protected from harmful substances and drugs
How can I tell of my child is being abused?
There are some warning signs to look out for and investigate if they surface. While physical abuse is often visible (bite marks, bruises, cuts, burns and unaccounted “injuries” and swellings) it’s the the child’s change in behaviour that is most telling.
- Does the child avoid physical contact?
- Does the child become scared when other kids cry?
- Do they wear clothes to hide injuries?
- Does the child refuse to change for sport at school?
- Does the child go to school early and not want to go home?
- Does the child come up with different excuses for his injuries?
- Does the child reach the developmental milestones that is normal for his/her age?
What can you do to help your child heal from abuse?
Give your child attention and reduce stress. While you child is going through counselling, you need to give your child your attention by listening and accepting your child’s feelings. You will need to play an active role in limiting stress in your child’s life. This may mean making sure that there isn’t unnecessary pressure at school or that your child has enough to eat. Keep the peace at home.
Monitor your child’s healing and give reassurance. Remember that healing takes time, and it’s vital that both parent and child are reminded of this. Get help if your child has severe outbursts or reactions or if they undergo any changes in their emotional state or language use. Try and be with your child as much as possible and just keep on supporting them and reassuring them that you love them.
[Could you be in an abusive relationship? Read this article.]
Safe House Stellenbosch is a place of safety for women and children who need to escape from domestic violence. We offer them shelter, and a professional counselling as part of our emotional support programme. We also assist in up-skilling and job placement in order to give the women and their children a real chance of freedom from domestic violence.
Would you like to be become a friend of the Safe House by making a monthly contribution? Click here.
We are always in need of volunteers and donations and would appreciate any assistance you can offer.
Image credits: www.momtastic.com and slideshare.com
16 June is Father’s day. While this isn’t an official holiday, it does give us the opportunity to turn our attention to fathers the world over and honour those who do right with their children and families as leaders, providers and protectors. As a Christian run organisation, we at Safe House Stellenbosch, have a very real understanding of how vital the role of the father is the home. Above all else, a father is the earthly example of Father God (Abba Father) our heavenly Father.
What does it mean to be a father?
Does biology alone make man a father? It’s unlikely that in this day and age any person believes this fact on it’s own is true. Many factors add up to fatherhood, and biology isn’t necessarily one of them. So many more children are being raised by their moms because of divorce, but also by their mother’s new partner or husband. These men are stepping up to plate and participating in the children’s lives like a dad would: attending school meetings, supporting the children financially, disciplining them but also nurturing them in the home .
But what does it mean to be a father? Fatherhood is a privilege that comes with an immense amount of responsibility, but essentially it means is to love a child and always do what is in the child’s best interest while taking on the role of moulding them for adulthood. But above all else it is Love. It is a love that is instinctively translated into five languages, namely: words of affirmation, performing acts of service, giving and receiving gifts, spending quality time and physical touch (Read Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages).
We at Safe House would like to honour the fathers this Father’s Day and say thank you. Thank you for loving your sons without restraint and giving them the freedom to express their emotions and for showing them how to be fathers themselves one day. Thank you for loving your daughters in a way that teaches them how they should be respected and treated by their husbands in the future. Thank you for striving to be a Godly example of God’s love for us by demonstrating that fatherly love to your children.
Become involved in Safe House by making a donation or becoming an official friend of our organisation by donating just R100 per month. Keen to become a volunteer? Click here.
We recently published an article about some of our major sponsors and supporters, to this ever growing list, we’d like to give a special mention to the Zunia and Melanie, the owners of Avontuur Estate Restaurant, who every month, through a sponsored invitation to their business breakfast networking event, give us the opportunity to meet and connect with more potential sponsors. We thank them for helping us reach even more people in our community.
Here’s a brief interview with them about what their involvement means to them.
Owners Zunia and Melanie of Avontuur Estate Restaurant
Where did you hear about Safe House?
We first heard about the Safe House when manager Lee Rossouw came to one of our Business Breakfasts a few years ago. I had never heard of it before.
Why are you so passionate about supporting them?
Zunia says, ‘I am a staunch Feminist and spokesperson within the LGBT community. The abuse of women and children is often a silent burden that many victims have to endure on their own. The fact that one in three women is abused in South Africa is an alarming statistic, and those stats rely on women speaking up, so we are sure that that number is in fact higher. The stigma of being abused as well as the withholding of finance keeps the victims in a position of powerlessness and silence. I believe in the Biblical verse that says: give a man a fish and you give him a meal, teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
[If you are being abused, please read this article.]
If we can get the women back on their feet by giving them skill-sets they become empowered enough to stand on their own feet and there is nothing as rewarding as seeing a person rise up from the ashes.
One of the reasons we sponsor Lee at every Business Breakfast Club is that within every meeting there will be guests that have not heard of the Safe House as well as guests that may be able to provide the ladies at the Safe House with skills such as computer literacy, cooking, sewing or even facilitate in their healing process by providing a safe space to explore their feelings via the making of dream boards etc.’
Safe House Stellenbosch Manager Lee Rossouw (center) networking at one of the breakfasts.
If you had one wish for Safe House, what would it be?
That we did not need them in the first place. But as the need is a real one, my wish would be that their own financial burdens were lessened by assistance form the Government.
I am grateful on a personal level for the support private individuals and companies have given to the Safe House. Without participation the Safe House would not have had so many success stories and would not be able to continue to do the valuable work that they do.
If you would like to become a regular supporter of the Safe House, you can sign up for becoming A Friend of the Safe House here.
To become a volunteer, click here.
Safe House Stellenbosch has been truly blessed with community sponsorships and donations throughout the years. Without the help of the Friends of the Safe House and regular donors, we would never be able to continue our work of looking after the victims of domestic violence.
‘L’Abrie de Dieu’ means God’s shelter. Our doors are open to women and their children who are victims of domestic violence. We not only provide a temporary place of safety for them from their circumstances, but also strive to uplift them with therapy and skills training to enable them to take on the future as a victor and not a victim. You can read more about our skills training and other programs here.
Help from the community
With respect to our donors who would prefer to maintain their anonymity, we would like to say thank you. You know who you are and what you do. We are proud of our association with you and we value the relationship Safe House has built with your organisation.
A special thanks to our loyal contributors
Super Spar Simonsrust, Shoprite Checkers (PTY) Ltd and Checkers Stellenbosch who support our victims with random donations and employment where possible. Employment is one of the victims’ top needs and both retailers have assisted several women to gain very necessary work experience, or by being permanently employed.
NG Kerk Welgelegen who continually enquire about our needs and then try to meet the needs where possible.
Builders Express Stellenbosch who have come to our rescue many times as our local “Handymen” assisting us with fixing and maintaining the house inside and outside.
We are also especially fortunate to be the charity of choice of local sports heroes, Maties Rugby Club and the Varsity Cup with their ”Keep the Aggro on the field” campaign. They have helped us with the following projects, making Safe House more than just a roof over our victims heads, but also a space that encourages peace and healing:
- An awesome tranquillity garden
- Covered our stoep area with a roof to provide extra skills training space
- Established a playground for the children
- Assisted with a partial kitchen upgrade
- And painted our Children’s Play Therapy Room
Maties Rugby Club helps out with a new garden shed.
We also owe a very special mention of our dedicated Board Members who contribute with their time, personal contributions, volunteering and also introducing new friends to become “Friends to the Safe House” by contributing monthly with financial aid.
Would you like to become a Friend of the Safe House by contributing just R100 per month? Click here.
For more information about making a donation, click here.
Volunteers, click here .
Safe House Stellenbosch has recognised the necessity to not only attend to the emotional and physical recovery of the women who seek shelter from abuse behind its doors, but also the children who come with them. For this reason, the Safe House has started using Play Therapy to address the need to counsel the often overlooked victims of domestic violence: the children.
What is Play Therapy?
Play Therapy is used to counsel children by including games, toys and mediums such as clay, drawings to help a child express their emotions, thoughts, wishes and needs. It helps them to make sense of their feelings and upsetting events that they have not had the chance or the skills to deal with properly. Rather than having to explicitly verbalize what is causing their anxiety, children use play to communicate at their own level and at their own pace, without feeling interrogated or threatened.
What happens during Play Therapy?
During a Play Therapy session children are lead to become aware of what they are feeling and they are given a chance to express these feelings. Awareness is a very important process in play therapy, because without awareness change is not possible. During the therapy session, the child is empowered and supported to learn more about who they are and to talk about things that are frightening or painful.
Blanche, our social worker, opening the dedicated Play Therapy Room at Safe House Stellenobosch.
Our goal at Safe House Stellenbosch
Our goal with incorporating Play Therapy into our programme is to help the children to become better at regulating their emotions and expressing them in constructive ways. We want to equip them to become more assertive, self-confident and to have self-respect and respect for others. Recent studies indicate that more than 70% of children show a positive change in their total difficulties following Play Therapy. And we are seeing the difference it is making with the kids who come to seek shelter from domestic violence with their mothers here at Safe House Stellenbosch.
You can help us continue our work in providing a safe haven for women and children who are victims of abuse and domestic violence, by pledging to become a Friend of the Safe House.
We also welcome any donations of time, money and skills – for more information click here.
Our safe house is place of safety for the women and their children who have no place to go when fleeing domestic violence. We provide them with more than just a roof over their heads, L’Abrie de Dieu – God’s Shelter, is a home above all else.
We are sure many people have wondered what a typical day for a resident of the Safe House looks like. We’d like to share this insight with you so that you can tell others who might find themselves in need of safety from domestic violence.
We treat our house like a home. Not halfway house and certainly not a hotel. We all pitch in, doing chores like cooking and laundry – just like one would in any household. Every mother takes care of her own child / children, but residents often help each other out, in that those that don’t have jobs might take the kids to school for the mothers who do work. We have a roster so that there is an even distribution of chores amongst everyone and so that everyone knows what they are expected to do and when. Our House Mothers Nosi and Lydia, ensure that everything runs like it should.
We also make time every week for special counselling sessions and house meetings. Blanché is our in-house Social Worker who counsels the women through their recovery from abuse one-on-one and in groups. Our Skills Training Facilitator, Charlene teaches the residents relevant skills for future employment which also includes basic computer skills. Charlene also the pivotal person in assisting the women with applying for suitable jobs that match their skillset. Furthermore, various Life Skills are taught such as Parenting Skills, Domestic Skills, sewing and crafts.We believe that a person’s time at the Safe House should be focused on healing and empowerment. That is why we invest so much into counselling and skills development.
Because children often make up a large part of our residency, we have integrated play therapy into our programme and we have made sure that we have a playroom and outdoor play area for the kids too.
After work and over weekends there’s plenty of time for relaxation, so often we have movie nights, play board games or braai. We also celebrate birthdays and other special days. Residents are allowed to have visitors by pre-arrangement.
Safe House Stellenbosch often receives volunteers who visit and donate their time or talents to our residents. We appreciate every one, and it makes a great change of pace of the residents to see new faces and try new things.
Would you like to become involved? Become a friend of the Safe House, click here.
To donate your time or any items, find out more here.