Addresses Trauma

Observations made in conflict/post-conflict areas indicate that survivors of GBV are suffering from a greater trauma. The consequences of the assault – hiding the rape from friends and family or telling friends and family, going to the clinic or going to court – represents on-going stressful events and crises. The psychological trauma of GBV leaves lasting scars, and survivors may struggle with depression and are at higher risk for suicide. GBV also deprives the community of productive women and girls, who would otherwise be working and contributing to the well-being of other community members. Sport plays an integral role in trauma recovery. It is an important means of re-establishing survivor’s psychological equilibrium. Sport also simply helps survivors of GBV find enjoyment in their lives.

Programmatic Tip

Because gender-based violence is emotionally traumatic, counselling and other services should follow medical treatment if desired by the survivor. Ideally, experienced counsellors and social workers will provide support. However, peer groups for women and for girls can be a positive alternative that raises awareness, builds confidence, and strengthens mutual support.

Programatic Tip Becoming a Rape Survivor - Not a Rape Victim

In 2004, Save the Children advised that care should be taken in programming efforts not to categorise or label survivors of GBV as “victims”. Women consistently show their resiliency, strength, and capabilities in surviving conflict under the most stressful and challenging circumstances. "While it is true that women in conflict/post-conflict areas have special needs due to their reproductive and caregiver roles, humanitarian assistance efforts must provide space for women to take participatory roles without relegating them to a token, passive, or “victim” role". Ensure that images and messages in your sport programme are empowering and that they do not reinforce stereotypes, such as women as “victims” and men as “aggressors”.

Programmatic Tip:

AKWOS emphasises the importance of communicating effectively with a child within your sport programme who has been violated. Gain their trust. If the child does not want to confide in a coach or counsellor, it is imperative that you urge her to confide in a friend. Communication is the key. Ensure that you acknowledge and listen to her experiences with GBV in a non-judgmental and compassionate way. For more information, see Response, Referral and Reporting. Be mindful that younger girls’ needs may vary from those of the adult women in the programme. Like physical trauma, the emotional trauma experienced by survivors of GBV is unique to each woman or child. The way they respond to GBV is determined by a multitude of factors. These include: the survivor’s age; cultural background; personal history; access to support systems; level of self-esteem; and the unique combination of strengths, weaknesses, and skills that help them survive the situation. For instance, not only does their physical maturity need to be considered in the development of sport programmes, but also they may wish to access reproductive health services differently or may have different concerns about reporting gender-based violence due to social repercussions. Be aware also that many countries have laws requiring mandatory reporting of cases of child abuse to the local authorities or police, and programmes should be aware of the obligations in their own country.