Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA

by Lawyers Against Abuse
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA
Legal Aid for Victims of Domestic Violence in SA

Project Report | Oct 15, 2023
Amahle's Story

By Lindsay Henson | Executive Director

When Amahle* was 16-years-old, her step-father starting sexually abusing her. He threatened that if she ever told anyone, he would hurt her and/or send her away. The abuse went on for several months until her mother, Lerato*, discovered explicit photos on Amahle’s phone that her step-father had demanded she send to him. Lerato opened a criminal case and the perpetrator was arrested. Shortly thereafter, the investigating officer assigned to the case, a member of the FCS Unit with whom LvA has a strong relationship, referred Amahle to LvA for support. Over the next 10 months, LvA’s legal team provided ongoing support to Amahle and Lerato including following up with the investigating officer and assigned prosecutor for case updates on an ongoing basis. Although bail had been denied, the perpetrator continued to harass Amahle and Lerato from jail telephonically, pressuring them to drop the case. LvA’s legal team made sure that the investigating officer and prosecutor were kept informed of all communications from the perpetrator. Despite fears for their safety and pressure from other family members to withdraw the case, Amahle and Lerato persevered in their pursuit of justice.

At the same time, LvA’s drama therapist began seeing Amahle for individual sessions. When Amahle first started her therapy sessions, she was struggling with feelings of shame and guilt and was blaming herself for what had happened. She was also feeling anxious and worried about the financial ramifications for her family as the perpetrator had been the breadwinner. To address these feelings, Amahle’s sessions have focused on mindfulness practice to help her to be present in the moment and not anxious for the future. In addition, her sessions have focused on internalising a sense of both physical and psychological safety, in order to build the foundation for her to engage with her trauma more directly. Over time, Amahle has been able to let go of the shame and the guilt she had experienced and is less anxious for the future.

In a parallel process, an LvA social worker provided individual support sessions for Lerato. While the initial sessions focused on addressing Lerato’s feelings of betrayal, shame and guilt for what had happened to her daughter, Lerato later bravely shared about sexual abuse that she herself had endured in her childhood. With this disclosure, LvA’s social worker was able to help Lerato work through how her daughter’s abuse had triggered her own unresolved trauma. Lerato also attended LvA’s psychoeducational workshop series and group sessions for primary caregivers. Through these interventions, Lerato was empowered to better understand the impact of trauma on her daughter’s life and how she could best support her. In addition, these spaces provided Lerato with an opportunity to engage with other caregivers in similar situations which further helped Lerato address her feelings of shame and guilt and helped to create a network of support outside of LvA.

In 2023, the perpetrator pled guilty and was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. When asked how she felt about her step-father sentence, Amahle said that she was relieved that he was going away and hoped that he could get the help that he needed so that he wouldn’t hurt her anymore. Amahle and Lerato continue to receive support from LvA and are excited for what the future holds. 

Lawyers against Abuse is a non-profit organisation that works to ensure that victims of gender-based violence (GBV) have meaningful access to justice by providing legal services and psychosocial support, empowering communities and engaging state actors. Since 2014, LvA has provided critical support over 2,300 women and children who have experienced abuse.

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Organization Information

Lawyers Against Abuse

Location: Braamfontein, Gauteng - South Africa
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @LvA_SouthAfrica
Project Leader:
Lindsay Henson
Diepsloot, Johannesburg , Gauteng South Africa
$62,374 raised of $75,000 goal
 
746 donations
$12,626 to go
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