Calling all Rape Crisis Members – Past and Present

Anne Mayne, one of the founding members, and Carol Bower, one of the first members and the first Director of Rape Crisis, are writing the herstory of the organisation and hope to launch it as part of the organisation’s 40th Anniversary Celebrations in 2016.


The herstory will be written as a series of episodes, as follows:

1          19761983: The founding of the organisation to the first paid worker.

2          19831993: The first shelter for battered women, starting in the Durban and Pietermaritzberg Rape Crisis, People Opposed to Women Abuse (POWA) in Johannesburg and later the Masasa Project in Harare, Zimbabwe, all by Rape Crisis trained women, as well as participation in national conferences.

3          19931996: First professional staff members and their impact on the organisation.

4          19962000 First Director: Establishing the Board of Trustees and opening the Khayelitsha and Athlone offices.

5          20002014: Shaping sexual offences policy in the Western Cape, working on national sexual offences legislation, research, the Shukumisa Campaign, funding crises, building the Thuthuzela model and sexual offences courts. 

Interwoven throughout this herstory will be stories of dedication, courage, resourcefulness, survival, tragedy, triumph, comedy, love, hate, forgiveness and understanding, in contributions from the women who were involved in Rape Crisis during these periods.

The aims of the book are:

  • To record feminist activism under apartheid and post democracy, to look at how first just a few, but gradually a growing number of nervous, angry, hurt women from different backgrounds with almost no material resources, managed to challenge and create cracks in the megalith of patriarchal society and the amazing transformations that ensued.
  • To acknowledge with gratitude how women, first from the US and later from the European countries, reached out and helped our struggle with encouragement and material resources and to record how their belief in us has had a very positive impact for the women of Southern Africa.

We invite you to tell us your piece of this herstory, either by just writing or by responding to the questionnaire below. Also, if you have any Rape Crisis memorabilia such as old newsletters, t-shirts, buttons, stickers – anything! – could you let us know?


How did you hear about Rape Crisis?

What motivated you to investigate it and join the organisation?

What years were you involved in Rape Crisis?

What were your first impressions of the organisation?

Describe going through the training course and what you learned.

Which area did you work in?

  • Counselling
  • Training and Development
  • Court Support
  • Advocacy
  • The Board or Steering Committee
  • Administration and finance
  • Other – specify

Can you explain in a few paragraphs how working in Rape Crisis had an impact on your life while you worked there?

Can you tell us something about what working at Rape Crisis, either as a volunteer, a staff member or a Trustee was like?

Did you become politicised about women’s issues? Please describe this.

What have you gone on to achieve after you left the organisation that you attribute to your time there?

Please send your responses to either Anne Mayne at or Carol Bower or, if you would prefer to take part in an interview please email Sarah Strydom at

Thank you!

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About rapecrisisblog

We have a vision of a South Africa in which rape survivors suffer no secondary trauma, and are supported throughout their interaction with the Criminal Justice System (CJS). Our mission is to promote an end to violence against women, specifically rape, and to assist women to achieve their right to live free from violence. Rape Crisis Cape Town seeks to achieve its mission through counselling and training of women, thereby reducing the trauma experienced by rape survivors, and encouraging reporting of rape and the conviction of rapists.

One thought on “Calling all Rape Crisis Members – Past and Present

  1. Hi the PMB and POWA and Durban Rape Crisis Centres were all started from 1980 onwards – not 1983. Unless I am getting old, I was in Maritzburg to train the first intake in 1980 and Helped Debbie and GAby in 1980 and 81 with Powa training. Also was a member of Durban RC in 1980 and 81 while living there part time. Good luck Beatie Hofmeyr

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