Stand against sexual assault – victim

POLOKWANE – Over the course of this period, sexual assault survivors and their advocates engage with community members in areas across the country to educate and create awareness surrounding the topic.

This year, the focus is on engaging new voices that will give all those affected and opposed to sexual assault a greater voice.

Nelson Mabalani, a social worker in the city and sexual assault victim says dedicating just one month to this cause is not enough to deter assault predators, but it is a good place to start.

Mabalani says he was assaulted by his uncle when he was younger. Speaking from experience, he believes it is important for victims to speak out.

“There have been too many children and adults left to try and deal with the issue of people not willing to talk and ignoring the signs of abuse. The only thing that saved me when I was young is that a friend of mine spoke out after I told her what was happening to me. I might have been angry at her then, but today I realise that she saved me. We need more people to speak out and more people to make victims of sexual abuse stronger by talking for them,” Mabelani says.

It is an issue that children and adults face and can only be addressed if people who witness instances of sexual assault report perpetrators. Organisations such as Childline call on people to get involved and report sexual abuse.

Someone who is, or has been, sexually assaulted will:

• Have nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation

• Be distracted or distant at odd times

• Has a sudden change in eating habits or refuses to eat alltogether

• Loses or drastically increases appetite

• Has trouble swallowing

• Has sudden mood swings that manifests in emotions of rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal

• Leave “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues

• Develop new or unusual fear of certain people or places

• Refuse to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child

• Write, draw, play or dream of sexual or frightening images

• Talk about a new older friend

• Have more money and lavish gifts

• Think of themselfe or their body as repulsive, dirty or bad

• Exhibit adult-like sexual behaviour, language and knowledge

Places to call for assistance if you or someone you know is being sexually assaulted:

1. Childline Polokwane: 015 295 6449

2. Childline SA 08000 55 555

3. CyberTipline (1-800-843-5678) (link is external) (National Center for Missing and Exploited Children).

4. Local police stations.

5. Churches and family members.

riana@nmgroup.co.za

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