LvA’s integrated approach to gender-based violence, providing both legal and psycho-social services, is unique. This is particularly true in Diepsloot, where the LvA’s services are the only ones of their kind in the community. The importance and success of such an integrated approach can be seen in the two client stories shared below.
Thabiso’s Journey with LvA
Thabiso is a 24-year-old mother of two. She initially came to LvA with her mother, Noluthando, seeking a protection order against her abusive stepfather. The abuse had been going on for over 14 years and was directed at Noluthando, Thabiso, and their other children. When they came to LvA, both agreed to counselling to deal with the severe traumatic after-effects of the violence. Thabiso entered individual therapy and they both became regular participants in LvA’s group therapy. Through her sessions, Thabiso identified GBV as a critical issue in Diepsloot and wanted to know more about its drivers, and do more to prevent it from happening, so she joined one of our Sexual Violence Workshop Series. Following the series, she became a champion for LvA’s cause and services, referring several people from her circle of friends and neighbourhood to us for legal support and counselling. LvA operates on the assumption that an increase in knowledge about the legal system will empower women to make use of it to their benefit. Thabiso and other women like her who have attended our workshops assist LvA in spreading that knowledge and improving access to justice for all women in Diepsloot.
As for Thabiso and Noluthando, after over a decade of abuse, they were empowered to move out of the shared residence, and to start afresh in a new city. They continue to call and/or visit LvA to express their gratitude for LvA’s support.
Nokulunga’s Journey with LvA
Whenever Nokulunga refused to have sex with her husband, he would choke her and beat her all over her body with clenched fists. He once beat her so badly that she had to seek medical care from Helen Joseph Hospital. Whenever she reported the abuse to the police, they told her that such matters were handled within the family, or, at most, would reprimand her husband for his conduct. LvA assisted Nokulunga in applying for a protection order against her husband, which was granted. After receiving the order, Nokulunga continued attending LvA’s weekly group therapy sessions. Over the next several months, there were noticeable changes in Nokulunga’s demeanour as she was visibly happier and more confident. She attributed these positive changes to the impact of the group therapy sessions. Further empowered, we saw Nokulunga take control over other areas of her life, including applying for a maintenance order against her husband. Nokulunga is just one of the countless clients LvA has assisted who, with professional and nuanced psychological and/or legal support, are able to move from a place of victimisation to one of empowerment.
Please note client names and certain details have been changed to protect identities.