Supporting victims of gender and sexual-based violence
TFV continues to provide victims of gender-based and sexual violence, with the necessary, medical, mental health and psychosocial support as well as economic empowerment through Village and Savings Loans Associations (VSLA) and small businesses. Victims report improved health, restored sense of hope and improved relationships with family and community members.
A 47-year-old woman was torn away from her family by the LRA, when she was just eight years old. She spent five years in captivity, suffering multiple abuses. Therapy helped her regain hope and help others, changing perceptions and creating a greater sense of belonging in the community.
“The years I spent in the bush were terrible. Sometimes up to ten men would rape me in one day. I was helpless and I suffered from a lot of abdominal pain. Often a stream of blood would flow out of me. Later I found out that this repeated sexual abuse had caused irreversible damage to my reproductive system, and now I’m left unable to have children. After returning [home] I was haunted by memories of what happened. But I would never talk about it.
Through therapy I gained the confidence to talk about my experiences and I have learned to come to terms with what happened to me. I learned to accept my situation and adapt to the condition. I now have hope. Using the skills I learned in therapy, now I’m able to help other community members deal with their problems. I also feel how TPO interventions have reduced stigma in the community through increased awareness. People now help and support each other instead of talking behind their back.”
TFV’s intervention has really built up the community and due to the services provided by TPO I now have a greater sense of belonging in my community. That has reduced a lot of stress in my life because though I don’t have any children, at least I have a support network to fall back on if something happens.
Delivering medical support to victims
TFV also provides medical support to SGBV victims with fistula who live in shame, stigma, pain, neglect and constant humiliation by family and community members. The medical support gives them access to specialised medical care like reconstructive and corrective surgery. After successful corrective surgery and full recovery, these women testified that their lives have never been the same, as they are now living with dignity and their hope has been restored.
Fay (not her real name), from a Ugandan village, a member of the counselling team, describes the value of community level engagement through outreach clinics and consultation as it goes beyond TFV-supported initiatives by engendering community cohesion. (964 People participated in community dialogues and peacebuilding initiatives).
“Due to rape, my uterus was ruptured. Only one of my children is still alive today. This attack left me traumatised and I isolated myself which led me to think about committing suicide. Then I was approached to take part in a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy group which helped me cope with the trauma. I was also referred to other services through a local organisation and received physical rehabilitation and medication. It helped me gain back some dignity. It was still difficult to listen to the doctor as he confirmed that I would no longer be able to give birth again. I also enrolled in a group which allowed me to improve my standard of living and learn to cover expenses for the basic necessities of my family like food, clothing and shelter. The first year of taking part in the group saving scheme in 2017, I was able to save 170 USD. I bought three goats and paid for school fees for my son. In 2018, I saved 192 USD and bought one cow. The most important change is that I am no longer feeling isolated and I take part in the community life of my family, my church, and take on leadership roles. One of my future plans is to build a permanent structure so that my grandchildren and my son can live there. I want to be able to pay for my grandchildren’s school fees completely and continue to save money for our future.”