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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.

Celebrating Christmas at Safe House Stellenbosch

Posted in Articles

December month is a busy month at the Safe House. We always have new women and children in December. The women and children will decorate the house with Christmas decorations and are always treated to  a delicious Christmas meal, which is sponsored by one or more of  our donors.

All the gifts we can find gets wrapped and put under the tree, and the tree gets decorated a few days before Christmas by our residents and their kids.  Everyone is on their best behaviour and every now and again you will catch someone peeking to see if they can guess the contents of a gift or their name on a gift tag.  Usually sometime from the 22nd it becomes evident the wait is getting to everyone and not a single person comes into the living area without wearing something special or pretty just in case the presents gets handed out and they all know that would be a photo opportunity.  After supper on the 24th   everyone washes up as fast as they can and rushes to the lounge under the promise of a family movie night.  This is when it goes dead quiet and no one can find their spot, fidgeting endlessly and giggling behind very anxious hands.  When House Mother finally announces it is time for presents it is like New Years on Times Square and papers fly like confetti.  Some of these people have never seen this kind of generosity and good spirits and it shows.  House Mother normally ends the evening with a Christmas message and a movie all can watch.  On the 25th the big cook and big eat happens!  All join in and cook what we have, we have been fortunate to have received donations for Christmas lunch from our local Super Spar and several donors would also drop by bringing the loveliest foods and treats.  If we still need items, Lee the manager, jumps in her car and buys what we can afford, but Christmas lasts a whole weekend and our residents surely deserve it.



Our volunteers are always generous and give different kind of gifts. In the past we received lovely gifts from NG Kerk Welgelegen.

We normally receive small gifts for the children, sweets, toiletries and sometimes even a gift voucher enabling the woman to spend as they please or enabling a mother to buy something special for her children even though she might not be working at the time.

This year will be no different, and we look forward to a light lunch: residents and staff together before Christmas weekend.


We would like to thank our loyal donors:

  • Friends of the Safe House
  • NG Church Welgelegen
  • Volunteers
  • Stellenbosch Super Spar

Without them our residents and their children would be able to celebrate the birth of Jesus and have a happy memory despite the difficult situation in which they find themselves.



16 Days of Activism against gender based violence

Posted in Success Stories

What colour will you be wearing for Paint Show Tell this year to support our 16 Days of Activism?

25 November marks the beginning of the international 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence which ends 16 December. Owing the success of last year, Safe House will be running its Paint Show Tell campaign again this year, trusting that the campaign will go viral and really put the spotlight on the life-and-death nature of gender based violence.

The idea of the painted nail as a talking point was inspired by the #PolishedMan, read more here.

So how do you take part?

It’s easy.

  1. Pick any colour nail polish and paint your left index finger nail. If you usually wear nail varnish then, make sure that nail stands out with a contrasting colour.

  2. Donate R100 to Safe House.

  3. Show it off! (post pictures and make a video!)

  4. Convince your friends (including guys!) to do the same.

  5. When someone asks you about your nail, tell them that you are against gender based violence.

You won’t be alone!

Last year, some local celebrities supported Paint Show Tell.

The mayor of Stellenbosch.

16 days of activism against gender based violence










Director Regardt  van der Berg and his wife lovely Clara

Safe House 16 Days paint show tell











Maties Rugby Club

Watch this adorable video that these ‘manne’ made to support our cause.


And well known actor Armand Aucamp!


You too can be a lifelong Friend of Safe House by donating just R100+ per month. Click here to find out more.

Want to know what a day at Safe House involves for the victims who find themselves there? Read this article.

Meet our team!





Annual General Meeting: Progress and Determination to do even more

Posted in Success Stories

The Safe House annual general meeting, held on 22 September in Stellenbosch, opened with some scary statistics. Safe House manager Lee Rossouw reported that,

“Three women are killed every day at the hands of their intimate partner. That’s one every eight hours, and South Africa has a femicide rate five times higher than any other country in the world.”

But if you believe that those are just faceless, nameless statistics, then you are very much mistaken. At Stellenbosch Safe House those shocking records of abuse against women show up at their door on a daily basis. Since its inception in 2006 and opening of its doors in 2008, Safe House has given shelter to more than 400 women and children. Lee went on to explain that Safe House is the only shelter for abused women in the Greater Stellenbosch Municipal District, Helderberg and Overberg region, and so the need for a place of safety far outweighs their capacity to take in everyone who reaches out for help.

“Currently we only have eleven beds, but we have approved plans to expand in the near future – although we are not sure where all the money will come from for the necessary expansions. We have also just learned that with our adding more rooms and beds, we will also need to upgrade our kitchen and are currently busy with that undertaking.”

As a registered non-profit organisation, Safe House relies heavily on funding and donations from the community.

Safe House Stellenbosch team

Safe House team from Left: Skills trainer Charlene , Finances Aletia, Manager Lee and social worker Blanchè  .



Main contributors to the income of the Safe House in the past year were:

Department of Social Development: 44.98%

Larger contributors >R100 000 per entity: 25.66%

Medium contributors >R10 000 per entity: 19.37%

Small contributors <R10 000 per entity or individual: 9.99%

As you can see from the financial report, nearly 10 % of the Safe House’s income comes from many smaller contributions.

“It’s our goal to grow our Friends of the Safe House initiative, where people donate just R100 or R200 per month. That little bit adds up and goes a long way to sustain our cash flow for basic necessities,” Lee says.

The AGM was also the perfect opportunity to give special acknowledgement to the regular and loyal donors and volunteers, not to mention the staff who work relentlessly and are emotionally invested in every woman who enters the Safe House. To say thank you to her team, Lee gave each one of them a crown as a symbol of their immeasurable worth to the organisation.

The new executive committee was also announced at the meeting.

Safe House’s next awareness campaign will start in November: Paint Show Tell. Click here to learn more.

The meeting was closed with these inspirational words by John Wesley.



Safe House always welcomes donations and volunteers.