UCT programme offers counselling to abuse victims

Third-year UCT law student Sanda Nyoka.

A gender-violence programme at UCT is raising awareness about the importance of counselling after being a victim of abuse.

UCT alumna Zellah Fuphe and third-year law student Sanda Nyoka launched the Alumni in Action programme in August to give mental-health and counselling services to UCT survivors of domestic violence.

“The programme is aimed at gender-based violence survivors experiencing severe trauma,” said Ms Fuphe. “Survivors are referred to our Alumni in Action counsellors after they have been attended to by the survivor-support service in the UCT Office of Inclusion and Change (OIC).”

She said that since the establishment of the programme, no survivors had been referred to the counsellors as yet.

“We have funding available to provide up to eight sessions, for each survivor in a total of 90 survivors. That being said, every case will be evaluated on its merits, bearing in mind that some survivors may not require all eight sessions which are available to them,” she said.

“Gender-based violence has numerous adverse consequences not just for survivors, but for their families, their community and our country. The trauma of gender-based violence has many direct consequences for survivors, which may manifest in various ways, especially if the survivor is unable to access the mental-health support she needs.

“For students, unresolved trauma could result in them taking leave of absence, delayed completion of their studies and, in some instances, the non-completion of their degrees.”

Ms Nyoka said: “I encourage everyone to get counselling whether you have been abused or not. There are recognised and unrecognised traumas that hold us back in ways that we may not realise. Especially as a student, the academic pressure is hectic enough. In order to cope with it, you need to have the mental strength.”