Trauma training course a vital companion to address healing of many women in Cape Peninsula

CAPE TOWN. – The trauma training course of 1000 Women Trust on WhatsApp and person-to-person have become catalysts for the healing of several women and girls in many communities across the Cape Peninsula and the West Coast.

This is the anecdotal witness of community leaders interviewed by 1000 Women Trust on the Trauma training course. Claudia Roodt, director of Designed to Connect and associate of 1000 Women Trust, developed the course material. It is also facilitated by Tina Thiart, founder member of 1000 Women Trust, and Caroline Peters, a director of the organization.

Since the course was first rolled out, more than 4000 people have attended it person-to-person or on WhatsApp.

Thiart will facilitate a new Trauma training course on WhatsApp starting on 12th March.

You can follow this link to join the WhatsApp group: https://chat.whatsapp.com/KVqpHSDdBjq3I0GzFEnSMv

Humans are all born with a nervous system and a stress response. Sometimes humans’ nervous system is wounded because of a toxic environment or abuse by parents or friends. That happens due to the absence of a sympathetic witness that calms the nervous system down.

When, as an adult, a woman encounters their husband shouting at them, their nervous system recalls a similar experience as when their father verbally abused them, and then they react in the same way as in which they reacted to their father – by possibly fleeing or freezing.

The trauma training course equips attendants to know what trauma is, how it manifests and what the body do when one feels traumatized or overwhelmed. It also teaches attendants on how to become a safe space for others who have encountered trauma, to be sympathetic and reflective listeners, and to share skills with the victim of trauma which will equip them to deal effectively with their trauma.

Davina Cloete of the West Coast Food Sovereignty and Solidarity Forum said she did a 1000 Women Trust’s trauma training course and shared the principles thereof with 30 young people and adults in the Lutzville-area.

Many of these women were traumatized because of historic abuse, rape and gender-based violence and did not know how to verbalize their pain but the presentation of the trauma training course by Cloete assisted them in sharing their own experiences.

“The magnitude of gender-based violence in Lutzville has been enormous the past three years. During the 16 Days of Activism, as organization, we in association with the police and the municipality signed a declaration signaling our intent to fight gender-based violence.

“The trauma training course assisted us in having empathy with one another and to talk about trauma in our own lives,” said Cloete.

“When our group of 30 women reach out to others who have experienced intense trauma, we know how to deal with it. We don’t become too emotional and we don’t try to manage this situation head over heels. We can listen attentively and calmly before we talk. We are aware of the importance of our own body language when we listen to people who have suffered trauma.

“As activists, we have learned to be radical and militant, but because we have done the trauma training sessions, we know how to handle our own emotions better.

“I will encourage other women to do the trauma training, especially because many are caught up in gender-based violence in their families and don’t know what to do or who to turn to,” Cloete said.

Albertina Francis, a leader in Paarl who facilitates community work in Lantana, Chicago and Amstelhof, said she twice attended trauma training courses of 1000 Women Trust since 2019.

“It helped me a lot because when I wanted to assist people with gender-based violence issues, it gave me the confidence and tools to start support groups for the victims,” said Francis.

“After the WhatsApp-training me and my group did on trauma, we started #HearMeToo-sessions in the community.

“The trauma training sessions helped us to be that safe space for a lot of women in the area who have been victims of gender-based violence. The fact that we have learned to listen in a different way, also creates a new trust-relationship between the members of our group and the community,” Francis remarked.

“The area in which we work, is characterized by major abuse, alcoholism and gangsterism. Through our interventions and our trauma training sessions, many women have come forward for assistance and we were able to refer them to social workers and organizations for assistance,’ Francis added.

“I am a program coordinator for the Foundation for Community Work and also started my own non-profit organization called Within Development. There are 300 children who are at the Early Childhood Development-stage, as well as 50 children from the toddler-stage to grade 7, as well as their parents so you can see that the trauma training material that we did could impact many,” Francis adds.

Vainola Makan, a community leader who operates throughout the Cape Pensinsula, said many of the people with whom she worked, has found the trauma training material very useful.

You need to understand what the process is that people go through and how you can act around them to assist them, and that is explained through the course of the trauma training sessions, she says.

“I work as a counsellor with the Sisterhood Movement in Mitchell’s Plain, Delft, Kraaifontein, Stellenbosch and Bellville and use the trauma training material. The one need I have is that maybe we can have more of a workshop-environment where we can have interactive sessions on trauma training as many women would like to ask questions about their own situation,” Makan said.

“The trauma training is very relevant in the current context because we are in COVID 19 and in lockdown where many of the emotions that people feel are exacerbated,” Makan added. “Many people might feel isolated and in need of more physical and emotional support.”

Leslie van Rooyen, director of Youth4Change in Manenberg, said he did trauma training more than 15 years ago, but would love to attend the 1000 Women Trust’ trauma training course in 2021 and would also like to bring his assistants with him to attend.

He said he has been living in Manenberg for 44 years and Youth4Change and the LGBT+ community face many trauma cases, particularly because of domestic violence, family violence and substance abuse which plays a major role in many people’s lives.

The LGBT+ community has been particularly affected due to trauma caused by the gangsters. In the community they face discrimination and marginalization, he said.

Some LGBT+ members are used as slaves by the drug lords.

His aim will be to write a business plan and engage with potential investors to build a call centre for the LGBT+ community in Manenberg. He also envisages the building of a shelter at his home to serve people in the LGBT+ community and other members of the community affected by drugs and gender-based violence who battles with trauma.

1000 Women Trust’s objectives are to mobilize resources and give grants to organizations that support, raise awareness and provide opportunities for women and children who have been affected by gender-based -violence.