Impact SA

GRIP: Providing support and empowering victims of rape

Barb - picture August 22 new

The Greater Rape Intervention Programme (GRIP) provides critical services to victims experiencing the trauma of Gender Based Violence (GBV), providing a safe place to stay, counselling, support, and skills upliftment to help empower women and children stand on their own again.

Quarterly crime statistics released by the South African government in June this year reported on crimes committed from 1 January to the end of March 2022. Alarmingly, it pointed to a sharp increase in the reported number of people – especially women and children – who were murdered and raped in South Africa. In the first three months of the year, there were at least 10 818 cases of rape reported – an increase of 13.7% over the same period last year.

One out of four people raped will be a young girl between the age of 11 and 15. This is increasing. More and more children as young as 12 are falling pregnant due to rape. 25% of women are in abusive relationships and five women are killed by their partner every day in Mpumalanga alone. This means that in any one year, two million people are raped in South Africa. Sadly, only one in 40 000 report their rape.

Established in 2000 in response to the high levels of rape, and the concordant high levels of HIV/AIDS infection transferred to predominantly child rape survivors, GRIP was initiated by Founder Barbara Kenyon and volunteers, and offers services to all rape and abuse survivors. GRIP seeks to empower all women, men, and children through the process of counselling, education, advocacy, and lobbying, and provides a service that responds to this scourge in a way that empowers survivors of abuse and helps survivors lead a qualitative life. GRIP also runs preventative programmes to mitigate gender based violence and HIV/Aids.

As a registered NPO/CBO registered with the Department of Welfare, GRIP has been funded by MAMAS Alliance since before 2010. MAMAS has been instrumental in helping GRIP grow their management style and good governance and supports GRIP in finding alternative funding through their concise understanding regarding the difficulties of running an NGO.

MAMAS has also assisted GRIP in networking and training through their network conferences to create awareness. “Their funding has been consistent, and they are ‘hands on’ and visit in person, which illustrates MAMAS’s deep commitment to assistance, especially the children. We are all grateful to MAMAS on behalf of our survivors, community, and sisters in GRIP,” says Barbara.

Although abuse of women, men and children happens across all sectors of society, GRIP’s target is mostly communities with limited or no resources. 96% of abuse survivors are disadvantaged persons from underserved communities. These areas have poor infrastructure, unsafe public transport and minimal police protection, which propagates the increase in violent crimes. These communities are characterised by limited employment opportunities, overcrowding, and lack of educational facilities and extensive HIV and Aids related issues and alcoholism. All these factors impact strongly on violence.

GRIP has two shelters for domestic abuse survivors. Survivors and their children can stay for as long as is needed, however most stay for 6 months. At the shelters, survivors learn hands-on skills like sewing, nail craft, embroidery, and computer courses, as well as receiving ongoing counselling and building up of both the emotional, social, and physical strength. School-going children are kept in school at GRIP’s expense and their house mothers have been trained in Early Childhood Education to provide schooling and stimulation for young children not at school. GRIP also provides survivors with outside training such as security courses and driving lessons, when is funding is available.

“At the shelters, survivors learn hands-on skills like sewing, nail craft, embroidery, and computer courses, as well as receiving ongoing counselling and building up of both the emotional, social, and physical strength.”

GRIP’s holistic support

GRIP offers holistic support in the form of:

Police Intervention: To offer comprehensive trauma counselling and information, practical assistance in dealing with the police, plus a temporary place of safety to all victims of rape and domestic violence at the Victim Friendly Facilities, established and maintained by GRIP on a 12-hour, 7 days a week basis, to achieve empowered survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Hospital Intervention: To provide holistic, confidential, informed counselling and care, to all victims of abuse and trauma, accessing medico forensic examinations and explain the complicated sexually transmitted diseases prevention medication, in dedicated care rooms established and maintained by GRIP, on a 24-7 basis, to achieve dignified and empowered survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Court intervention by providing survivors of rape and domestic violence with pre-court training, assistance throughout the court procedures and to act as the survivor’s voice and ears in all court procedures. To make sure that the correct procedures are followed when children enter the court system.

Field work intervention:  GRIP conducts home visits, finding solutions to social problems together with the relevant partners, in order to provide assistance, counselling, and care to survivors affected by sexual assault and domestic violence.

Support groups: GRIP runs support groups every month for young adult persons and young teenagers who survive rape. Our social workers empower these survivors to understand that rape is not sex and to be able to make informed consensual decisions in the future amongst other pertinent issues that affect this age-group.  

Programmes and training

A new programme that GRIP is piloting, is a programme working with children of domestic violence homes to help prevent generational abuse. This is a problem that is not fully addressed in South Africa but needs to be. 

One of GRIP’s main advocacy work currently is centered around getting survivors to the hospitals in time for the PEP prevention medication. Most people do not know that this is important, so GRIP runs awareness programmes daily in all our areas of intervention. Other HIV and GBV preventative programmes are:

  • The Steppingstones Programme which targets both young adult and teenage boys and girls in HIV prevention, GBV mitigation and economic training.
  • The IMSafer Programme only targets female teenagers and also trains the girls on HIV Prevention, Physical protection against violence safety techniques
  • Visiting schools on a daily basis in all our regions.

GRIP further offers the following training:

•          Management Training

•          Care and management of survivors of domestic and sexual abuse

•          Pre-court Training

•          HIV Prevention and Treatment Training

•          Covid Vaccination Training

•          GBV and HIV Prevention Training

•          Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and Support Group Training


“One of the challenges is that we are still battling to get survivors to report timeously for the life-saving medication, but hopefully, in time, we will be able to encourage more survivors to access this medication,” says Barbara. Another challenge is lack of government support. “The inherent reluctance of government stakeholders to work with civil society, year-to-year funding, stakeholders not caring about survivors and making them wait unnecessarily, are all major challenges. The accusatorial justice system is the most awful challenge to survivors. Women empowerment is still a long way off. Our patriarchal society has even made our women themselves believe that they are not worthy, and the automatic reflex is to consider violence as the right of the man, which just expands on the abuse. Our justice system seems to support the rights of the alleged rapist and not the survivor, and this must change,” she emphasises.

Through GRIP’s support, many survivors have been able to recover to be able to return to normalcy, even though they will never forget the abuse. “We always say it is never the fault of the survivor, and we fight against victim blaming,” says Barbara. “Our goal is to be successful in our lobbying efforts for better government stakeholder engagement and support, and to pressure government to provide an equal criminal justice system and more staff in all government departments dealing with abuse,” concludes Barbara.


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