3X3: Talk about abuse


15 February: 

What can be done to address our country’s shocking rape statistics? In the latest issue of YOU/Huisgenoot, we pose this question. See what our experts say.

3×3: Every day, for the next 30 days, we’ll post 3 ways to help empower you in the fight against rape in our country – from how to talk to your children about this heinous crime to what to do if you’ve been raped yourself.

Statistic: Victims of rape tend to be younger women, aged from 16 to 25 years old, says Statistics South Africa.

16 February: 

Things you can do now to join the campaign against rape:

  1. Petition: avaaz.org and click on “Honour Anene Booysen”.
  2. Volunteer: take a six week course and volunteer your time to support rape survivors. Rapecrisis.org.za has more info.
  3. Donate: to Childline SA as they help child rape survivors. Visit childlinesa.org.za for banking details.

Statistic: In 2012, there were 175 rapes per day in South Africa, according to a United Nations report.

17 February: 

Common myths about rape:

  1. You’re likely to get raped in a secluded alley, by an unknown man.

Fact: 65 per cent of rapes happen in a home or isolated setting, and is committed by someone you know, according to a local government report.

  1. Women “ask for it” by the way they dress or act.

Women, men, girls and boys of all ages, cultures, sexuality, race and faith groups are raped every day, worldwide. Research has found huge diversity in those targeted.

  1. When a woman says no, she means yes.

Fact: Rape is terrifying, violent and humiliating for the victim. A person has the right to change their mind about having sex at any point of sexual contact.

Statistic: 34,6% of South African women were raped by relatives or men they were intimate with, found one Medical Research Council study.

18 February:

First 3 things to do immediately if you have been raped:

  1. Go to a safe place as soon as possible.
  2. Tell the first person you see and trust about what has happened. This person may be asked to support your evidence in court.

If you are badly hurt go directly to a hospital or doctor. The police can be called to the hospital if you want to report the rape.

Statistic: About one in 30 South African men has been raped by a man, says a Medical Research Council study.

19 February:

Useful toll-free numbers in event of rape:

  1. LifeLine: 0861-322-322 for confidential rape and trauma counselling.
  2. Stop Gender Abuse: 0800-150-150 for advice in supporting rape victims, including legal advice.

Police protection units: 0860-010-111 for the SA Police Service’s Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences Unit.

Statistic: Only one in 25 women in Gauteng report rape, according to the Medical Research Council.

20 February: 

Supporting someone who has been raped:

  1. DON’T: Blame them for the rape in any way – whether they were dressed a certain way, drinking or clubbing. No one asks to be raped.
  2. DON’T: Ignore the survivor. Phone and visit, especially in the few weeks following the rape. Gently encourage them to talk to you and offer to run some errands for them.
  3. DON’T: Tell a rape survivor to “get over the incident” after some time has passed. Everyone has a unique healing time.

Source: Reinette Evans of the Helderberg Rape Crisis Centre

Statistic: 6 hours – 72 hours: the window in which you should receive anti retrovirals after a rape, says the Helderberg Rape Crisis Centre.

21 February: 

Protect yourself from an attack when out and about:

1.            Never leave your drink unattended. Even if a drink is bought for you, collect it straight from the barman. Spiked drinks are a common occurrence in attack incidences.

2.            When you go out with friends and you’re going to drink alcohol, ensure someone will look out for you and accompany you always.

3.            Don’t go anywhere alone late at night if you can help it. Lock your doors as soon as you get into your car and be alert about your surroundings at all times.

Source: Reinette Evans of the Helderberg Rape Crisis Centre

Statistic: Studies have shown only about five per cent of men are psychotic at the time of their sexual crimes. Few convicted rapists are referred for psychiatric treatment, according to rapecrisis.org.uk

22 February: 

Factors in detecting pre-rape behaviour in a partner or acquaintance can include:

  1. Displays of sexual entitlement and aggression, such as touching others with no regard for their wishes and often making inappropriate comments about people’s bodies and sexuality.
  2. Showing hostility often, such as a quick temper, jealousy, blaming others when things go wrong.
  3. Acceptance of interpersonal violence, such as threatening displays of anger, approving and justifying violence.

Source: Acquaintance Rape: The Hidden Crime by Andrea Parrot and Laurie Bechhofer

Statistic: Three-quarters of men who rape do it for the first time before the age of 20, according to a 2009 Medical Research Council report.

 23 February: 

Dealing with a child who is raped.

  1. Believe them. Children are often not believed for various reasons including that the perpetrator is often someone known to the family.
  2. Immediately report the rape to the police and a social worker and keep the child away from the perpetrator.
  3. Get medical attention. The child needs to be treated by a medical doctor as soon as possible as well as a psychologist. They may prefer to speak to a professional in trying to protect their parents from the traumatic experience.

Source: Clinical psychologist Carin-Lee Masters

Statistic: In most cases, women were found to be raped with the use of knives (68 per cent) or at gunpoint (16,5 per cent). A Statistics South Africa report from 2000 says 47,3 per cent occurred inside the victim’s home.

24 February: 

Important psychological steps to be taken after a rape:

  1. Reach out to and accept the support of those around you whom you trust. Writing in a daily journal could also help in expressing your feelings about the rape.
  2. Get professional psychological help, especially if you have symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including intrusive memories, reduced interest in others and the outside world, insomnia, irritability or outbursts of anger.
  3. Create situations that make you feel safe and in control again such as taking a self-defence course and educating yourself on legal and police protection.

Source: Clinical psychologist Carin-Lee Masters

Statistic: Rapes seem to occur more frequently on Saturdays, particularly between 7 pm and 1 am, according to a Statistics South Africa report from 2000.

25 February:

Parents and teachers, here are some ongoing behavioural signs to identify child sexual abuse, including rape.

1.  Previously friendly and trusting children suddenly become nervous or aggressive towards adults.

2. Overactive curiosity about sexuality and possibly also acting out sexually with other children.

3.  Venereal infections or change in odour and discharge from private parts. When children get older they may resort to alcohol or drug use as a form of self-medication.

Source: Childline

Statistic: More than a third of those raped develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). If untreated, this can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts and substance abuse, says a 2009 Medical Research Council report.

26 February: 

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Why medical attention is vital after a rape has occurred:

  1. For treatment to help prevent sexually transmitted infections including HIV. This should occur within six to 72 hours after the rape for it to be effective. Treatment in preventing pregnancy from the rape is also vital.

2.   Injuries. Even though you may not be hurt externally, you may well be injured internally.

3.    Evidence. If you decide to lay a charge, the doctor’s report is vital to your case.

Source: Rape Crisis Cape Town

Statistics: For the 2011/12 financial year, rape decreased by 1,9 per cent but it’s not enough and more resources and better training of police are being put in place, according to South African Police Service (SAPS) crime statistics.

27 February: 

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Ways to prevent being attacked and potentially raped when out partying:

  1. Remain aware of your surroundings and how you could get away if you needed to.
  2. Have a special codeword with a friend or family member that you can say if you call them for help during a situation where you’re being pressured into unwanted sex.
  3. If you need to, make up a reason why you need to leave and do so the second you have a gut instinct something is wrong or you feel uncomfortable.
Source: US Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network - www.rainn.org Statistics: In 2009, the Family Violence, Child Protection and Sexual Offences (FCS) units were re-established in SA.  In cases involving children under the age of 18, the unit has secured convictions that resulted in a total of 10 345 years for those criminals involved. In the same age group, it’s managed to secure 175 life sentences for these crimes.

28 February: 

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Take a look at this interactive virtual tour of the criminal justice system available in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa. See:

  1. SA Police Service
  2. Health facility
  3. Court and counselling facilities

The site also offers advice in the event of a rape.

Link: rapecrisis.org.za/virtual-tour-of-the-criminal-justice-system/

Statistics: In a 2009 Medical Research Council report 46,3 per cent of rapists said they had raped more than one woman or girl.

1 March: 

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Things to do as part of the healing process after a rape:

  1. Take care of your body – take baths in coarse salts or essential oils such as lavender, rosemary or camomile oil. This will help you to feel a sense of cleansing, soothing and healing of your body.
  2. Don’t panic if you struggle to relax or sleep. There are some herbal remedies for anxiety, depression and stress including St John’s wort, Rescue Remedy and Kava kava. You can also try to do deep breathing, meditation and relaxation exercises (many of these can be downloaded from the internet).  If your symptoms persist or get worse you may need to ask your doctor for medication to help with sleep, anxiety and/or depression. Or try going to a survivor’s group. Consult Lifeline, People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) or Rape Crisis for more info.
  3. Practise your faith/religion and get out into nature. Rape often changes your feelings about these issues but encourage yourself to go to the places and people you feel gave you a sense of spiritual connectedness and meaning.
Source: Clinical psychologist Carin-Lee Masters Statistics: When asked about their age the first time they had forced a woman or girl into having sex, 9,8 per cent of rapists said they were under 10 years old, 16,4% were 10 to 14 years old, 46,5 per cent were 15 to 19 years old, 18,6 per cent were 20 to 24 years old, 6,9 per cent were 25 to 29 years and 1,9 per cent were 30 or older – 2009 Medical Research Council report.

2 Maart:

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Help protect yourself against rape in the home.

1.            Have a system whereby you can alert your neighbours to trouble, such as a missed call or SMS a code word so they can call the police if you can’t.

2.            If an intruder enters your house, pretend you’re not alone by calling out to someone and on returning home, always have your keys ready to open the door. If you think someone is watching you, don’t go into your house, go to a neighbour or summon help. 3.            If someone in your family or living in your home approaches you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, tell them. Also tell someone else about it immediately. Trust your instincts, don’t worry about being called “paranoid” as your safety comes first. Source: Rape Crisis Cape Town handbook Statistics: Contracting HIV is a concern for all rape victims. Run in conjunction with the Department of Health, the National Aids Helpline (toll-free) receives around 3 000 calls a day. Go to 0800-012-322 or aidshelpline.org.za for more info.

3 March: 

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What to do if you’re attacked:

1.            First, try your best to break free from your attacker and run and scream to draw attention to yourself.

2.            Sometimes if you talk to or try to reason with your attacker, it might make them change their mind and leave you alone. 3.            Shout, bite, kick, pull their hair and use other forms of attack. Remember sensitive parts of the body are eyes, ears, penis, testicles, groin, neck and armpits when trying to fight someone off. However, if your life is in danger (for example they have a gun), passive resistance is advisable as fighting could make them harm you further. Source: Rape Crisis Cape Town handbook Statistics: Sexual offences (rape and indecent assault) case figures are:

  • 2008/2009: 54 126
  • 2009/2010: 55 097
  • 2010/2011: 56 272
Source: Saps report 4 March:  

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If your dealings with the police about an abuse or rape case haven’t been efficiently handled:

1.            Write to complain to the station commissioner of the particular police station. Include all details such as the date, names of people, places, time etc. 2.            If you don’t receive a reply, contact the provisional commissioner of police in your area. 3.            If the matter is still not dealt with, contact the Independent Complaints Directorate (www.icd.gov.za or 012-399-0000). This is a government department created to investigate complaints against members of the South African Police Service (Saps) and the Municipal Police Service (MPS). Statistics: Of the of sexual offences recorded during 2008/2009 in SA, 60,5% involved child victims below the age of 15 years. 29,4% of these sexual offences involved children aged 0-10 years. Source: Saps report

5 March: 

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Reduce your anxiety about dating again following a rape:

1.            Decide on what will make you feel safe when dating. For example, arrange only double dates with a trusted friend, or only daytime dates or dates to public events. Remember, your desire for this kind of structure will subside over time.

2.            It’s okay to set limits such as deciding beforehand what time to be home, how much physical intimacy, if any, is okay, and whether or not you will use any alcohol.

3.            Offering alternatives as your way of showing interest. If your date suggests an activity you’re not comfortable with, decline by suggesting an alternative: "No, I don't want to go have a beer tonight, how about getting together tomorrow afternoon for coffee?" or "No, I don't want to go to your apartment for dinner, let's go to a restaurant." As the relationship progresses, you may want to talk about the sexual assault. We’ll post more on this tomorrow.

Source: Clinical sexologist, Elna McIntosh. www.safersex.co.za

Statistics: More than 90% of child sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator in some way, according to a 2000 US department of justice report.

6 March: 

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Talking to your sexual partner after being sexually assaulted

It’s important that you feel control over the amount and kind of sexual contact you have. This control can be established by talking to your partner about your feelings, says clinical sexologist, Elna McIntosh. Click on this link for more on the topic.

If you feel that your partner can’t do this without resentment or pressure, we recommend that you first deal with trust and respect in your relationship.

Some common reactions with suggestions on how to talk to your partner.

1.            You don't want any physical contact

Tell your partner about these feelings and suggest other ways to be together that show caring such as cooking meals, taking walks, going to movies, etc. Talking to your partner about what is bothering you and what you feel good daily.

2.            You don't want sexual contact, but do want other forms of physical contact.

•             Tell your partner about these feelings and suggest other ways to be physical: "I'm not feeling like having sex these days, but I would like to have physical contact with you. What I feel comfortable with are massages, hugs, kisses, holding hands, and sitting close to you when we watch TV. I will initiate some of these activities and want you to initiate too." Other activities may include taking a bath together, cuddling and exchanging massages.

3.            You’re open to sexual contact but cautious as you don't know what your reaction will be. Certain behaviours, touches, looks, and smells may trigger fear, anxiety, and/or flashbacks (memories of the assault).

•             Stop the sexual activity at any time. It’s particularly important to stop when you feel anxious, panicky, or scared. Some couples set up a signal system ? a squeeze on the right shoulder means "stop now, I'm scared" for example.

•             Before beginning any sexual activity, you may want to say to your partner: "Lots of times I'm not sure how I'm going to react during sex, so I may want to stop even after we've started. I'll try to tell you what I want instead, like different kinds of touching or a different position."

•             Pay attention to what triggers your feelings and suggest other activities: "When you lie on top of me I feel scared and have flashbacks, and I'd like to lie side by side when we hug." Don't put any pressure on yourself to perform sexually.

Note: If you’re open to sexual contact and don't have anxiety reactions to specific activities, but you become aware of previous sexual issues that you have ignored or avoided such as lack of orgasm, painful intercourse, lack of desire, seek help from a therapist who specialises in working with sexual problems. The therapist can help you talk to each other, as talking can be embarrassing and difficult.

Source: Clinical sexologist, Elna McIntosh. www.safersex.co.za

Statistics: More than one in three children aged 11-17 who was sexually abused by an adult didn’t tell anyone about it, according to a UK National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children report.

7 March: 

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More useful numbers in the event of abuse or rape:

  1. SAPS 10111
  2. Childline: 0800-055-555
Aids Helpline: 0800-012-322 Statistics: Victims of sexual assault are:

  • 3 times more likely to suffer from depression.
  • 13 times more likely to abuse alcohol.
  • 26 times more likely to abuse drugs.
  • 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide.

Source: www.rainn.org

8 March: 

If you’re a witness to potential sexual assault:

1.            Be direct. If you see someone leaving with a potential victim who looks drunk or vulnerable in any other way, a direct approach would be to go up to them and say, “I’m a little bit concerned. Do you need a ride?”

2.            Delegate. If you’re wary of the direct approach in dealing with a potentially violent situation, find the friends or family of the person who might be in danger or contact the police. Don’t be afraid to do so – you could be saving a life. 3.            Distract. For example, if you’re at a party and you see someone trying to take advantage of someone who may be drunk, distract them by saying the police are at the door and get the potential victim’s friends to help them. Source: Violence prevention website, livethegreendot.com Statistics: More than 50% of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occurred within 1,6 kilometres of their home. Source: www.rainn.org

9 March: 

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Did you know?

  1. Six to 72 hours: the window in which you should receive antiretrovirals after a rape, says the Helderberg Rape Crisis Centre.
  2. Three-quarters of men who rape do it for the first time before the age of 20, according to a 2009 Medical Research Council report.
  3. Rapes seem to occur more frequently on Saturdays, particularly between 7 pm and 1 am, according to a Statistics South Africa report from 2000.

For previous Facebook posts in our fight against rape and more shocking statistics, go to our website you.co.za/3x3-talk-about-abuse.

Statistics: During the last financial year, the South African Police Service’s family violence, child protection and sexual offences (FCS) units secured more than 363 life sentences, with a conviction rate of 73 per cent for crimes against women older than 18 and 70 per cent for crimes against girls younger than 18.

10 March: 

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What community leaders can do to help:

1. Information (posters, pamphlets) on what to do after you’ve been raped or how to prevent rape should be available in places such as clinics, schools, doctors rooms, on noticeboards in shops and so forth. It should be everywhere in the community so that community members will constantly be reminded rape is a serious crime.

2. People should be made aware they should report a rape, to make sure the perpetrator doesn’t rape again. Volunteers from the community should be trained to support rape survivors and to assist them in the recovery process. 3. The incidence of violence towards children and women is higher in countries where men are seen as superior to women and where women are submissive. So education should also focus on improving equality between men and women through discussions about gender roles from an early age as part of the life orientation programme in schools. Source: Marianne Strydom, Louis Vlok and Ilse Beukes, all Stellenbosch University Statistics: Did you know? Men who rape show a greater acceptance of interpersonal violence, according to US research.

 11 March: 

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Many rapes go unreported. Surveys have shown people cover up a rape for various reasons, such as:

1. They’re too embarrassed or ashamed about the incident. There is still such a stigma attached to rape that relatives or friends who’ve been informed about it convey the message it shouldn’t be spoken about. The victim and their families often experience intense shame and guilt. Many families are economically dependent on the perpetrator and are indirectly forced to keep quiet to ensure the family has food to eat.

2. They think the police won’t believe them. Reasons for the cover up are also connected to the myths about rape, such as the belief the reason she was raped is because she was alone in a bar, and so forth.

3. The low conviction rate of rape.

Sources: Marianne Strydom, Louis Vlok and Ilse Beukes, all Stellenbosch University

Statistics: Did you know? Men who rape are likely to perceive women as hostile towards them and to mistrust a woman’s affection generally. They may also have feelings of shame (especially about sex) and inadequacy which, masked by anger, create a need in them to control women, according to US research.

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