The support group is one of many initiatives in the on-going Save a Tamar campaign which highlights the prevalence of abuse, whether it is physical, emotional or sexual, and offers victims support, guidance and knowledge, empowering them to begin their journey from victim to survivor.
Mrs Marcia Pires, founder of WiA, opened the meeting by encouraging everyone to take the first step on the road to recovery. This involves making a personal choice to accept help and work through the healing process. She said: "Victims often lose sight of the choice they have. They can choose to stay in the abusive situation or confront it and work towards changing their lives. During the acceptance and healing process, people overcome sadness, humiliation, hopelessness, pain and shame. They regain joy, start to value themselves as precious people and find meaning and purpose in their lives. Above all they learn that the abuse was not their fault - they are not to blame for what happened to them."
One of the tragedies of abuse is that in most cases the abusers are known to the victim. They may be family members, people in authority at work or friends. The victim has no safe place. Many of the WiA counsellors have overcome abuse in their own lives, so are able to empathise with and relate to each person individually.
The group shares a word of encouragement, prayer and one-on-one counselling. In most cases, the journey starts with acceptance and sharing experiences, enabling people to take control of their lives. Nobody is pressured to participate before they are ready to do so. This is their space - time for them. WiA volunteers are there to support them every step of the way. If volunteers sense the need for professional help from psychologists, doctors or the legal system, they refer the person to the appropriate contact.
The story of Tamar is recorded in the Bible in 2 Samuel 13:20-29. Tamar, the daughter of King David was abused by her half- brother. She felt condemned to a life as a "desolate woman". Marcia Pires shared a vision of hope from Isaiah 35:1-2: "The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy."
The Save a Tamar support group meets every alternate Tuesday at 5pm in the UCKG conference room in Eloff Street, Johannesburg. The next meeting will be held on Tuesday 14 February 2012. Everyone is welcome.
For further information please contact Nametso Mofokeng, UCKG public relations on 011 224 3447.