Rape Crisis Weekend Away

Rape Crisis is an organisation whose work is for the healing and empowerment of survivors of sexual violence. Our work is founded on feminist principles of advocacy, freedom from patriarchal violence and freedom of choice. Rape Crisis makes visible the needs as well as the experience and disempowering reception and treatment of survivors as they navigate the system in search of help and justice.

Our services are suitably placed in critical spaces which a survivor is likely to access. These spaces are the Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) where we have counsellors who are first responders and provide emotional containment; our three offices in which both crisis intervention and long-term therapy are provided to reduce post-traumatic stress and enhance post-traumatic growth; and at the courts where there are court supporters who offer psychosocial support to assist survivors with readiness for the court processes.

Over time, as a result of work pressures and responding to the burden of gender based violence, we neglected ensuring that visibility and activity levels of feminism within the organisation remained a high priority, and possibly also to our gender based violence (GBV) sector peers. Due to the enabling partnerships we have formed with organisations in the sector and with funders- who support and value the work we do, Rape Crisis became part of the African Women’s Development Fund’s (AWDF) Leadership and Governance Project.

The Leadership and Governance Project entailed a coaching process for Barbara Williams (Counselling Coordinator, Athlone Office) and I, in which we were allocated a coach – Hope Chigudu – who mentored us on personal growth and feminist leadership. The other part of the project entailed training our Board, who discussed the organisation’s status and identified areas for development. We then submitted a proposal on how we would address the identified gaps. We were able to acquire the support of AWDF’s Maanda Governance Grant to dedicate time and resources to the well-being of the organisation and reigniting our feminism.

We embarked on this journey of feminist ‘recovery’ by way of the whole organisation going on a weekend retreat to Waterval Country Lodge in Tulbagh. This served a dual purpose for us, as it was an opportunity for a break (self-care) and a space where we would begin developing our Feminist Charter. As part of the lead up to the weekend away, conversations on understanding feminism and feminism at Rape Crisis were held with all programmes and at all levels of the organisation. 

In addition, a process of assessing feminism in our operations was facilitated with the use of a Feminist Tool, a questionnaire that looked into the visibility of feminism in the organisation, in the work we do for our clients and community, in the work we do in teams, in our management as well as our own individual commitment to Rape Crisis being a feminist functioning organisation. This process will conclude with the formulation of the Feminist Charter which will guide the understanding and expression of our feminism as an African organisation in the GBV sector.

Team building activity: helium pole

This has been an enriching experience: the coaching, the interactions with members of the Rape Crisis family in preparation for our weekend away and revival of our feminism. It all culminated in a wonderful getaway in which we questioned, discussed, suggested, sang-along, danced, shared meals, posed for photos and then walked away with renewed commitment to our work and to strengthening the links between our Road to Justice, Road to Recovery and Making Change programmes.

Written by Neliswa Tshazi, Court Support Coordinator

Photos by Alexa Sedgewick


Turning big ideas into action in 2018

It’s been a busy first quarter, not only making progress towards our programme targets but also building the strength of our organisation and forging better links with outside stakeholders. We have a vision of a South Africa where rape survivors are supported in their homes, by their communities and within the criminal justice system. We’re making it real.

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Kholeka Booi talks to a school social worker in Khayelitsha about our peer education programme that addresses sexual violence and promotes safety in schools.



Capture d_écran 2018-05-17 à 14.42.49Learners from Intlanganisa High School get to hear about what rape culture means as part of our peer education programme.
Capture d_écran 2018-05-17 à 14.42.59At Khayelitsha Mall members of the Rape Survivors Justice Campaign speak to people about the need for specialised sexual offences courts.
Capture d_écran 2018-05-17 à 14.43.13Our General Meeting is a space for staff, volunteers and Trustees to come together to talk about the wellbeing of the organisation and strengthen our internal bonds.
Capture d_écran 2018-05-17 à 14.43.25One of our donor partners, NACOSA, has organised an evaluation of the work we do supporting rape survivors undergoing a forensic examination at Thuthuzela Care Centres.
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Speaking her truth our director Kathleen Dey writes a chapter on feminism in practice that describes how feminism is lived in Rape Crisis today.







Capture d_écran 2018-05-17 à 14.43.50Attending the German Embassy reception at the opening of Parliament earlier this year with thanks to our partners from Oxfam Germany.
Capture d_écran 2018-05-17 à 14.44.06Making plans for joint advocacy with members of the Shukumisa Coalition's Law and Policy Strengthening Task Team.
Capture d_écran 2018-05-17 à 14.44.20Xhosa speaking staff and volunteers review the content of our You and Rape booklet as a self-help guide empowering survivors.