Gender-based violence has been defined by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as ‘Violence that is directed against a woman because she is a woman or that affects women disproportionately.’ It remains as one of the biggest challenges and obstacles to development in the country.

Sadly, South Africa is among the countries with the highest rate of rape in the world.

Police recorded an average of 110 rape cases daily in 2017/2018 and the figure did not account for unreported incidents. Rape, domestic violence, and intimate partner violence are particularly prevalent.

Rape is a terrible trauma that violates the deepest places of a woman’s being. Emotional responses to trauma are normal and natural, and people react in diverse ways. Reactions include confusion, crying, fatigue and depression, flashbacks, sleeping disturbances, anger, fear, anxiety, grief, fear or substance abuse, problems with relationships, or work, suicidal thoughts, and feeling helpless and overwhelmed.

She feels ashamed and dirty. She wonders if she could have stopped it or prevented it. She blames herself.

Let’s work together to eradicate GBV and Rape.

In addition to these feelings, a rape survivor may sustain physical injuries. I could be beating, choking, or stabbing. She faces the possibility of being pregnant, of having contracted venereal disease or HIV, and carries this anxiety with her long after the rape.

At times society blames rape survivors for the ordeal. Therefore, it is important for a survivor to talk to someone she trusts or seek professional help.

In his study on rape in South Africa, Vogelmann notes that, “All women, whether raped or not, fear rape and take precautionary measures which limit their freedom” Rape is an act affecting all women, regardless of whether they are personally raped.

Women are aware of their vulnerability to rape and other forms of violence against them., Thus, they restrict their lives, not venturing to certain places at night or alone, not taking certain jobs, not visiting friends.

Women who have survived rape need the unconditional belief and acceptance of those they tell their story to. It is rare for a woman to make a false rape claim. It is far more likely that a man, in confronted with what he has done, will deny having raped. Most women never tell anyone about their ordeal, such is the shame and victim- blaming surrounding rape. It she does tell someone; it often takes great courage to do. She needs emotional support, medical care, counselling and must report the incident at a police station.

Phola organisation was established in 2016 to address the psychosocial and mental health problems associated with violence, crime, substance abuse, child abuse, gender-based violence, hardships, and trauma.

At Phola Village women and children experiencing gender-based violence or any form of abuse can get help. The Phola Director Ncazelo Mlilo is a psychologist with experience in psychosocial work and counselling.

During the past two decades she has developed methodologies now widely used internationally in countries such as Canada, United Kingdom, United States of America, Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Brazil, Swaziland, South Africa, Uganda, and Russia. Her leading publication is The Tree of Life Methodology developed in 2006.

Phola’s Approach to Assisting Survivors is rooted in our Narrative Therapies;

Tree of Life Methodology

Is a hopeful and inspiring approach to working with children, young people and adults who have experienced trauma. It uses metaphors and carefully formulated questions inviting children and others to tell stories about significant experiences in their lives in ways that make them stronger and hopeful about the future. The methodology allows people to explore to explore difficult issues in their lives such as abuse, loss, and grief without being re-traumatized by these experiences.


This is a methodology that takes women and others affected by violence, crime, and abuse through ten sessions that allows them to separate from shame, guilt, and psychological distress resultant from traumatic experience.

Narrative Therapy in the Suitcase Project

The Narratives in The Suitcase project uses journey metaphors to support children and people on the move to share stories, about their movements in ways that gives them hope about their lives and the future.

O.U.T.T.R.A.G.E.D. Methodology (Men and Boys)

O.U.T.T.RA.G.E.D. is a collective narrative therapy framework that facilitates conversations with men and boys for the prevention of violence and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in particular.

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