Former abuse victim changes lives

 Photo: Colin Browne Photography Julie Muir Vivier shares her experiences to help others.
Photo: Colin Browne Photography Julie Muir Vivier shares her experiences to help others.

AFTER living in a 20-year emotionally, financially, and physically abusive relationship, Hillcrest resident Julie Muir Vivier uses her experience to change the lives of those in her community.

The 44-year-old was born in the United Kingdom, but her family emigrated to South Africa in 1981 and lived in Johannesburg until 2012, before relocating to Hillcrest.

She has worked in social development for over 25 years in both the corporate and non-profit sectors.

While in the corporate sector, she started working in the field of HIV in 1991 and has seen the disease and the management of HIV evolve.

In 1998, she joined SAB Ltd (now SABMiller plc) to formulate its global corporate social responsibility and accountability in all its worldwide operations, addressing areas of human rights to environmental management.

“While at SABMiller, I was also a member of the control group of corporates formed to create the JSE's social responsibility index and later became an assessor of the companies applying to list on the Index. At this time, I co-authored my first book, Sustainability Reporting – Highlighting South African Examples.

In 2007, she entered into the non-profit sector joining Johannesburg Child Welfare, managing their facility Princess Alice Adoption Home for abandoned and abused infants.

In 2012 she moved to KZN to work with several non-profits including international NPO, Oxfam, where she was tasked with formulating its South African fund-raising strategy for Oxfam South Africa.

“Once completed, a realisation was reached that the skills shortage in smaller non-profits - particularly in KZN - was evident, so I opened my own consultancy assisting these smaller non-profits with organisational strategy, sustainability, programme development and governance. Fields included enterprise development, skills development, sustainable agriculture, refuge work and of course children's organisations.

“In November 2015, I published my second book in the United States, Hidden Beneath It All - a personal story of living in a 20-year emotionally, financially, and physically abusive relationship. The book has been optioned for films rights and is currently in development.

“The aim of the film is not only to highlight the extent of abuse, but also about how to overcome it and regain one's self and soul.”

Aligned to the film development, the Julie Muir Vivier Anti-Abuse and Empowerment Charitable Trust has been formed to undertake the development of a model linking rehabilitation assistance and empowerment to local and international gender-violence policies.

Support has been received for the project from the U.S., Switzerland, Singapore, UK and Ireland. The Trust will also roll out a large-scale media campaign of visual stories, through literacy and film for other causes in addition to gender violence.

Vivier is in the planning stages of her third book.

She said her drive for what she does is attributed to child welfare and protection, disability, safety and security, gender based violence, emergency response, sustainable livelihoods, enterprise development. sustainable development, climate change and skills development, however, her passion will always remain with children

“One never knows what another person is experiencing and something as simple as a smile or greeting could mean the world to the person receiving it. Take an extra minute or two and show interest in others - it’s a reflection that you have the ability to care.”

‘One never knows what another is experiencing’

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