COPESSA, a 13-year-old multiple award-winning organisation aims to prevent child abuse and neglect in Soweto. To this end, we address the social determinants that drive this scourge e.g. poverty, unemployment & hegemonic masculinity using an ecological model. All services we offer are free as the community we serve is indigent. Service delivery includes counselling and medical support for survivors and their families, home visits & community development programs. More info on www.copessa.co.za
Soweto is known for its "culture of violence" as evidenced by 83 recent cases of sexual abuse by a caretaker in one school. Also, about 20% and 34% of young people reported an experience of some form of sexual or physical abuse in their lifetimes, respectively. It is estimated that for each reported case there are 9 that are unreported. Patriarchy hinders spontaneous disclosure of abuse. Without counselling, the victims find it difficult to start the healing process and are likely to be abusers.
Counselling empowers the victims to be survivors, puts the abuse into perspective as they are often blamed for it, and it helps to break the cycle of violence. Home visits create mutual trust and understanding. This leads to an open environment where it is easy for victims to disclose their abuse, share their lived experience with family and on a broader level begin discussions that challenge the cultural norms perpetuating violence and ultimately, lead to a decrease in violence in communities.
Counselling allows victims to begin their healing process. They have an opportunity to explore how to manage their lives and relationships so that they are healthier and empowered. This leads to an increase in confidence as survivors navigate gaining their independence back which affects their psycho-social and socio-economic standing. Survivors who have been empowered through counselling also become productive members of society which influences positively on the economic state of the country.