Rape and Sexual Abuse of men? Yes-Men too…!

Please Go Support Matrix Men


MatrixMen is a peer support group that was started by Martin Pelders, a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. In his journey to recovery, he found that there was no professional avenue for assistance, and that it was a common reaction of many people, that this type of abuse was not a big problem. Martin discovered that this was in fact a large problem in society and that this was a major contributor to his dysfunctional life.

Through his journey Martin realised that the best best treatment for Male survivors is intensive One-on-one therapy with a qualified counsellor, combined with Group therapy. Two things became clear to Martin : The first is that there was no support structure or place where he could find assistance, and the second was the practical realisation that many of the people who needed assistance could not afford the specialised skills required.

MatrixMen is the first support group set up purely for male survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) and Adult Sexual Assault (ASA) in South Africa. Martin, is himself a survivor of sexual abuse, and trying to recover from the effects that sexual abuse had on his life. The negative social stigma attached to this subject, the cultural difficulties surrounding the discussion of this topic, the personal shame of the individuals, and the lack of any kind of support, prompted Martin to commit himself, early on in his recovery, to do all in his power to make it easier for other men to seek help and assistance in recovering from CSA.

One of the hardest aspects of Childhood Sexual Abuse(CSA) and Adult Sexual Abuse(ASA) is that we blame ourselves. The truth is that there was no way that you could have stopped the abuse. Paedophiles are cunning operators and pitting them against an innocent child is no match.
Men often feel that they should have been able to stop it or fight it off, they also often feel that they enjoyed it because their body had a natural reaction to physical stimulation. These factors only further confuse the victims.

People who would like to discuss any issues, or who require assistance, may contact me directly here.

MatrixMen is currently run in Johannesburg only, but if you want assistance, contact us and we can give you guidance, support, and send you information. We provide assistance and guidance for the setting-up of support groups.
– Martin Pelders

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Upcoming Training – Trauma Support


Trauma Wise

An introduction to traumatic stress and trauma support practices.
( accredited for 15 CPD Points)

This course is aimed at organizations, lay counsellors and individuals needing a substantial understanding of the effects of trauma to provide better assistance to victims of violent crime and traumatic incidents.
 Introduction to traumatic stress.
 Trauma field in South Africa.
 Traumatic stress response.
 Definition of traumatic stress.
 Types of trauma & Types of victims
 4 Phases of traumatic stress.
 Post traumatic stress reaction.
 Post traumatic stress disorder.
 Acute stress disorder
 Supporting Victims of Trauma
 Trauma Support / Crisis intervention
 Introduction to Trauma lay counselling model

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The cost of RAPE.

By Philip Stoneman. 

According to Google a woman is raped in South Africa every 4 minutes. Another Google article says that only 1 in 9 women report rape – but that’s Google! Who are we to trust Google when it comes to the issue of rape in South Africa?  Stats SA says that a truer reflection (1998) is that only 1 in 2 rape victims will report their Rape to the Police…

So who do we believe?

Here are some credible stats that will really shock you!

According to a study conducted The South African Medical Research Council and Gender links, only 1 in 25 women will report a rape to the police: not 1 in 9 , but one in twenty five rapes. That means that for every 4 rapes reported to the police, 100 rapes have taken place. Here are some more statistics, Statistics from the Eastern Cape: According to SAPS over a 7 year period, 2001 – 2007 there were 20 641 rapes reported in the Eastern Cape Province. For this period the average ratio per 100 000 people was 49.3. Now you may think, what is so significant about this statistic or ratio?

One centre ( Sinawa Centre) , saw such an increase of rape victims coming to them for help and counselling, that their stats increased to 417 per 100 000. That is 10 times higher than reported rape! So maybe 1 in 9 or 1 in 25 reported rape is a more accurate reflection of what is really happening on the ground.

And even these statistics may not be an accurate indicator of the true problem we face in South Africa and in the Eastern Cape! By the researchers own admission, rape is difficult to research, because victims of rape don’t want to talk about their ordeal. Many rape victims don t report to the police because they don’t speak about their rape. FULL STOP.

They don’t speak about the rape to their husbands or boyfriends, their BFF ( Best Friend).They don’t tell their parents or their families about the rape. Is it because their families, their husbands, or the police don’t care? Or.. Society for that matter? No – it is because the victim is feeling scared, guilty, ashamed, hurt, dirty and YES, most importantly because of the stigma attached to rape that the victims doesn’t feel safe enough to come out into the open and speak about their rape.

Yes – they don’t trust Society enough.

Yes, they don’t trust the police enough to listen sensitively and with compassion –

The survivor of Rape doesn’t feel like the victim – they feel like they are to blame!

And if its anybody’s fault, its not the VICTIMS FAULT – its society’s fault! If RAPE VICTIMS don’t feel safe enough to come out and speak out about their rape in our communities – it’s OUR FAULT! Society must take responsibility for whether rape survivors feel safe enough to come out and speak about their ordeal – because of the stigma attached to rape.

The stigma attached to rape is placed there by society. Because we don’t want to speak about rape. Rape is an unspeakable horror and so society creates this veil of secrecy that surrounds sexual violence and abuse and violence against women and children. It is human nature to keep quiet about unspeakable horrors. Trauma has a peculiar tendency to make people forget. In Psychology, we call this amnesia. In society, we call this denial.

This denial tells the victim of rape that your UNSPEAKABLE HORROR never happened. It tells the rape victim, don’t talk, we can’t listen because it’s too painful to hear what you have gone through. And when we tell the victim to not speak, to keep quiet, we take sides with the rapist, the abuser… The perpetrator wants silence. The perpetrator wants society to keep quiet about the abuse and violence perpetrated because by denying the unspeakable horror – Silence means that the rape never happened, if the rape never happened the perpetrator cannot be blamed. And if silence doesn’t work for the perpetrator, then blame does.

The perpetrator attacks the character of the victim…How many times have we heard how victims are blamed for the clothes they wear, or how much alcohol they had.What is that saying? The victim is not a credible witness. And so when the victim makes a decision about whether or not to report their rape, they look at history and what has happened in the past, and they make their decision based on that. But its not all societies fault.

Rape is such a sensitive intimate subject because it deals with intimate, private parts of both the physical body and a woman’s internal emotional process. Think about it – most women don’t often discuss their own fantasies related to sex, their feelings and responses to physical touch on an intimate level with strangers, how much more difficult would it be for them to discuss such intimate parts of their lives when violated? And so, a rape survivor faces an uphill challenge both from society and from herself.

The way she sees the world has changed. She no longer feels safe. The way she sees herself has been changed – dramatically. She feels unsafe, uncertain and perhaps even unclean. And in this uncertainty, she must make a choice. She asks “Do I speak out and confront the attacker who even now continues to attack me in my dreams, in my sleep in my emotions and my thoughts…or do I forget. Deny. And try move on?” She may even ask herself, how can I find the courage to face my attacker and his gang of prosecutors and persecutors who will do anything to discredit me in court when I didn’t have the courage to fight him off when he raped me? How do I face a police officer and tell him what happened, when all I want to do is forget? How do I enter a doctors examination room willing to expose myself and feel as if whilst he is examining me, it is happening all over again? Being touched when I don’t want to be touched.

The problem of Rape has no easy solution. Rape has become a harsh and stark reality in South Africa, with one rape occurring every 23 seconds. Rape has become such an accepted everyday occurrence, that the rape of a child will not so much as raise a whimper of protest from the South African public, yet South Africans will mourn for months at the loss of a rugby game. Rape, to some men has become just that- a Game. RAPE is not a game, RAPE HURTS…and continues to hurt long after the committed crime, the degradation and shame continue. According to Jane Raphael:

“Rape violates women in the innermost of their souls,

it is a pain that will stay with them forever.”

But there is a solution: It begins with Society.

It begins by society fighting the belief that RAPE, to many a dirty word, is something that should not be spoken about. Society needs to collectively speak about and against RAPE. The solution begins with society asking the rape victim what they need. Offering them a safe haven to come forward and tell their story. It begins with us listening to the cry for help from the victim of rape.The centre I mentioned earlier, Sizanawa centre in Mthatha had an increase in rape survivors coming to them for help because they created an environment of safety and trust. The victims felt safe going to them for help. They were listened to. And because they were heard, they found healing.

Judith Herman, Associate Professor in Psychiatry at Harvard medical school and the author of Trauma and Recovery says that when survivors are able to speak out and tell the truth about what happened, they can begin their recovery. So if we truly want to battle the scourge of rape in our communities, we need to speak out and create an environment that is safe enough for rape survivors to be willing enough to come out.

So how do we do that?

Firstly, we research the issues surrounding responses to rape.

For example:

· Why are rapes not reported,

· How long do police respond to cases and what challenges do the police face in investigating these crimes

· What is the quality of forensic examination reports submitted to court

· How long do DNA results take to be released to court

· What is the demographic of both rape survivors and the perpetrators of rape

· Interview Rape Survivors and determine what challenges they have faced in reporting their rape

· Determine how may forensic Social workers are available for therapeutic and forensic investigations.

And with the research results, campaign for change in the way  Rape cases are managed within justice, policing and civil society environments. By identifying the challenges faced by rape victims, solutions can be identified and implemented – and such solutions will be effective because they are research based.


Advocate for change in the manner in which sexual offences are reported by the police when statistics are submitted. At present, due to the sexual offences act 2007 incidents such as pornography and sex work infringements are included in police reports which masks the true statistic of rape.


Develop and establish centre’s of hope whereby Rape Survivors can come to for help whether it be for legal assistance, counselling, support, therapy or even to undergo the sexual assault forensic examination in an environment that is safe, trustworthy and conducive to healing – surrounded by people, who may be survivors themselves but who are passionate about providing support to rape survivors.

Finally, and most importantly – Determine the cost of rape.

The study undergone at Sinawe Centre by the medical research council identified that the average cost per conviction was between R5000 and R10 000 per case. Invest more and we will see a higher conviction rate.Great financial Investment is needed in the field of support for rape survivors – remember the earlier comment about rape not being a game?

Well just think on this: the difference between investment in the sporting arena and the social services arena is vast.

This weekend the Springboks play the World XV – Just the money spent on one rugby international test ( even an unofficial test) would be sufficient to financially support a rape crisis centre for one year.

What we forget, is that the true cost of rape is even greater than any money we can imagine – it destroys the fabric of our society and if we fail to act now, the cost we will bear will be disastrous – because the lives of our women, children and vulnerable people in South Africa will forever be changed – for the worst.

Speak out against Rape and Act now.


EC support network



Masithethe Counselling Services

Contact number: 043 743 7266

3 St. James Road Southernwood, East London


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The long walk to freedom



Each morning, young children of the Cloverdene informal settlement start their long walk to freedom.Some are as young as 3, some make the trek alone, while others in the company of older children.

Their walk to freedom is not to escape oppression or political violence, but to escape hunger. These children find freedom from hunger at the Cloverdene feeding station that provides them with a healthy, nutritious warm meal that otherwise they would not receive.


After receiving their warm meal, many of the young children start the 200 metre trek back home, to enjoy their freedom from hunger.

Hunger and breadline poverty is a reality – not in some far off place, but right here on our doorstep.

Project Feed the Children – not charity, but true humanity in action.


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A lost future?

Early Childhood Development in disadvantaged areas

Every year, more than 200 million children under five years old fail to reach their full cognitive and social potential. Most of these children live in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. As a result of poor development, many children are likely to under-achieve in school and subsequently to have low incomes as adults. As adults, they are also likely to have children at a very early age, and provide poor health care, nutrition and stimulation to their children, thus contributing to the intergenerational transmission of poverty and poor development. (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs332/en/)

The most telling statement from WHO, is that “ the health sector has been slow to promote early child development (ECD) and to support families with appropriate information and skills.”

So what is the challenges we face in our immediate environment?

As a father of two boys, I am acutely aware of the need for stimulation, education and the development of my sons emotional and cognitive growth. As parents, we have the luxury of the internet to research ECD, a proactive school that encourages their development emotionally and cognitively and a pre-school that follows a specific curriculum to ensure my sons develop their potential.

But what of  parents in communities where their greatest challenge is finding their next meal, and where there is no electricity let alone internet connectivity, These parents are in “SURVIVAL” mode…

Is there a need for programmes of this nature to educate parents about the need for early childhood development, considering the survival mode some parents may be in?

The answer? A resounding YES!!!


“The more stimulating the early environment, the more a child develops and learns.” (WHO) The less stimulating, the greater the chance that a child will face an uphill battle in later life not only emotionally and cognitively, but health wise thus ensuring that the cycle of poverty continues.

In the short time I have been with Project Feed the Children, www.projectfeedthechildren.co.za  I have observed that there is a sense of “learnt helplessness”, an attitude of not wanting to change, or do anything to move out of survival mode.But I have also seen change, as evidenced by the picture above where children are being empowered to learn and grow.

Perhaps,  the development of an early childhood development programme for both children and parents that encourages and stimulates learning of words and numbers, thinking and social interaction.

The WHO website also states that in communities that invest in E.C.D. in disadvantaged communities see a return in the later years in terms of lower unemployment, improved literacy and numeracy and lower crime rates.


So what are we waiting for?      Let us apply our minds to developing effective programmes that focus on early childhood development.          Let us teach the children how to play, to read and to learn..to grow!


If you would like to get involved, or are able to advise in the development of such programmes applicable to our conditions, please email me at : philip@traumasupportsa.co.za

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Feeding heart, mind, body & soul.

I’ve been paging through a book written by Craig Higson Smith, called     “Supporting communities affected by violence”. In the chapter regarding work with children, Craig makes the point that because of the challenges  children from disadvantaged poor communities face such as extreme poverty, hunger, malnutrition overcrowding and little supervision, providing specialised care for victims of abuse or violence without meeting the other social needs as mentioned above, are usually fraught with failure. The holistic approach whereby physical needs are first met  therefore lead to a more lasting impression on the lives of these young children as well a change in the community.

A project that I am now working with, “Project feed the Children” does just that. Although, there is not an intervention strategy to provide specialised care to trauma survivors, they do focus on feeding the heart, mind and body of the young disadvantaged children from informal settlements.


Project Feed the Children, a registered NPO was established in 2008 to assist under-privileged children and mothers without husbands, in rural areas in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Kwa-Zulu Natal.The project feeds on average, 10 000 children a month.


One such feeding scheme is based in Cloverdene at the informal settlement. Here they provide the children of the informal settlement with one hot meal every day, and are monitored and assisted for shortages of clothing, blankets, spiritual needs and medical attention and also provide stimulation and reading material when needed.


Throughout the year Project feed the children has a daily, one hour, stimulation/reading class, at our campus and kitchen for roughly 80 children (aged between 3 and 11 years old) that are not in a pre- primary/crèche as well as provide food parcels to 5 families, every week, within the settlement.


The organization has set up a book and toy library, a church with Sunday school pastored by Pastor Dumisane ( who stays in the informal settlement) and had also introduced Employment/Empowerment business training to parents of the children that we help feed. As at October 2013, they had trained 35 adults to either gain employment or to become small business operators within their environment.

The next objective of Project Feed the Children is to establish a community Trauma Care service in partnership with the community and Trauma Support SA. A service that will meet the needs of not only the young children fed by this project but their parents and other members of the community affected by trauma.


It is this type of a holistic approach that Craig Higson Smith writes about in his book, that makes a “lasting impact” on the lives of children affected by violence and trauma.


If you would like to find out more about the great work that Project Feed the Children does or even volunteer your time, please go like their page Project Feed the Children Facebook Page or go to their website : PROJECT FEED THE CHILDREN.


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I made a difference to THAT one..

Each day that we interact with the people we know and don’t know, have you ever stopped to think about what emotional pain this person may be carrying? Probably not, we put up barriers to protect ourselves against other people painful stories, as do the people around us, but its there. Buried deep within, sometimes pushing out and affecting their lives, emotions and behaviour.

Trauma does that to you. Trauma has the tendency, if not treated or acknowledged, to show itself to the world as a symptom or group of emotional, mental and physiological symptoms if left unattended.

However, traumatic stress within can be released when the journey of narrating the story is facilitated  by a person skilled in trauma.

That’s where we come in…not necessarily as a therapist or professional counsellor but as a trauma support volunteer providing guidance, education, trauma related information and perhaps referring to a professional. This role, as someone who comes alongside a victim of trauma and provides effective psycho-social support is valuable, and it makes a difference. A huge difference.

I love the story of the starfish thrower. Actually, I love the message even more…. “ I made a difference to THAT ONE”!


Read it with me….

A young girl was walking along a beach upon which thousands of starfish had been washed up during a terrible storm. When she came to each starfish, she would pick it up, and throw it back into the ocean. People watched her with amusement.

She had been doing this for some time when a man approached her and said, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The girl seemed crushed, suddenly deflated. But after a few moments, she bent down, picked up another starfish, and hurled it as far as she could into the ocean. Then she looked up at the man and replied,

“Well, I made a difference to that one!”

The old man looked at the girl inquisitively and thought about what she had done and said. Inspired, he joined the little girl in throwing starfish back into the sea. Soon others joined, and all the starfish were saved. – (adapted from the Star Thrower by Loren C. Eiseley)

Trauma support

There are so many times, you as a volunteer or counsellor may want to give up because you feel that you’re just not making headway, but take a moment to think about this:

  • If you weren’t there to help, who else would?
  • You made a difference to THAT one…
  • You re-instilled the belief that humanity is good.
  • You made contact

Think about that, and continue to make a difference in the lives of people you come into contact with in your role as a trauma support volunteer, counsellor or Chaplain.

-Philip Stoneman

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