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You don’t know how it feels to be a survivor

2019-02-04  Staff Report 2

You don’t know how it feels to be a survivor
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Constance Muparadzi

WINDHOEK - A phone call from the capital city, Windhoek directed to the other side of the country brought back the memories of the past two years. Grace’s voice could hardly be heard from the other side. Hers was a story that she never told anyone until her self-esteem was destroyed. Still young and energetic at the age of 23, Grace grew up in one of the coastal towns of Namibia. 

Grace witnessed the cycle of abuse taking place as she was growing up until her grandmother took her away. She endured sexual abuse from her stepfather. “I witnessed one abuse after the other from all the men who were in my mother’s life. First, it was my real father who used to beat my mother and secondly, it was my stepfather who used to beat my mother as well. I endured sexual abuse when my mother was not around,” she narrated.

Years down the line Grace found the love of her life. It did not take long before the abuse started again. “My boyfriend used to beat me and drag me in front of other people. To my surprise people would just look at me as if they were watching a movie. They could not intervene either. I started seeing what my mother was going through when I was young. With this kind of behaviour I saw in people I had a relapse. I went into serious depression,” she said. 

“I replaced my happiness with alcohol. I was growing crazy.  I was educated but I was an angry person. I had so many issues to work on,” she recounted. Grace was in the middle of a crisis when she decided to seek help. “The moment I decided to seek help was the day I read the article written by Regain Trust in the newspaper. I saw a psychologist, but I felt it was not enough. I needed more. I read weekly stories of survivors and how they were positively moving on with their lives. Emotions went through my mind as I was still afraid of being judged by people including my own family and friends. It was the only way I could be free and not bottle up emotions and blaming myself for what I went through. After opening up about my life I was free like a bird that was kept in a cage for a long time. I was calm and more approachable. I could talk to anyone who needed advice from me regarding gender-based violence. People are judgemental and they do not know how it feels to be a survivor,” she said.

Two years later Grace is more radiant, full of life and living with no regrets. She had moved on with her life. “I was embarrassed in front of other people. You can imagine the beatings I endured. That kind of abuse happening and no one bothering to intervene. I was in denial to the point where I used to drop the charges I applied against my boyfriend. I could not make peace with anyone and neither with myself,” she said. Grace now feels secure and safe. Being asked as to where she gets the strength from after everything she went through, Regain Trust was her answer.

According to World Health Organization nearly one-third (31 percent) of the women in Namibia have experienced physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner and 10 percent of the Namibian women reported that an intimate partner had either tried to kill them or threatened to kill them.

Regain Trust empowers survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) through psychological therapy sessions, one-on-one and group sessions. The intervention process helps and empowers survivors to open up and speak out about their experiences. Awareness campaigns are done through public dialogues, media campaigns and trainings. The organization advocates for a holistic approach to address GBV.

Regain Trust and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) with co-funding from the European Union are implementing a project that will contribute towards national efforts to address GBV and learner pregnancy (LP) in the Khomas, Erongo and northern regions. The project titled ‘Survivors Speak Up!’ seeks to increase and enhance the delivery of prevention, psychosocial, health, legal and protection services to reduce the prevalence of GBV & LP. Look for the upcoming events on our website and Facebook page. If you need help reach out to Regain and call 
0817033 203. 

2019-02-04  Staff Report 2

Tags: Khomas
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