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No Means No: a survivor’s story

Tsaki* attended the No Means No empowerment self-defense classes run by Childline Gauteng as part of NACOSA’s Adolescent Girls and Young Women Programme, funded by the Global Fund. This is her story.

I grew up living with my mother and stepfather, I knew my father and accepted the fact that he does not care about me. I always witnessed physical abuse, which killed me emotionally at times, I wouldn’t sleep overthinking everything.

It was July when I almost lost my mother due to gender based violence. That is when I started receiving counselling, having the support of social workers made me see life differently. I am a very shy girl and I always found it difficult to be open about anything. I tried to commit suicide because it seemed like it was the only option, I did not know that there are people out there willing to help me and support me. I was bullied at school I wanted to drop out because I was scared of being mocked all the time.

I was invited to an event at Childline. At first I was not comfortable, I could not even introduce myself, I was so scared but as time went by I began to feel comfortable and was able to interact with others. I even enjoyed myself, learning from others and playing games.

The best moment started when I attended the No Means No classes. At first I did not think it would help, my first day was difficult because I was not comfortable with doing any activity but as time went by I started to enjoy the class. I learned more about assault and that no one deserves to be a victim of abuse, there is no excuse for abuse no matter what the situation might be, where you are or your behavior – ‘I never asked for it’.

I learnt that I am worth defending and I should not let people take advantage of me.

As I learned about self-defense in classes, I wish I knew about this at a younger age. Maybe things would have been different, learning that I should make peace with my past so that it does not disturb my future. My self-confidence was boosted and I was able to stand up for myself, now I know that no one should take advantage of me.

My sister also attended the classes, I encouraged her to attend. It is really amazing to experience change in my life.

When Childline was celebrating 16 Days of Activism, the highlight of the day was that I was the Programme Director of the event. For the first time in my life I was able to stand in front of people and speak with confidence, I was scared but I did it. From that day till today I am proud of myself.

Each and every story deserves a happy ending.

*Name changed

What is No Means No?

No Means No is a violence prevention programme that offers knowledge, skills and practical strategies that end the cycle of violence by teaching boys to respect and support women and girls, and by empowering girls to stand up for their rights. Created by No Means No Worldwide and currently being rolled out in South Africa by NACOSA, No Means No is a rigorously tested and proven intervention that targets boys and girls aged 10-20 through 12-hours of education and skill building training coupled with strong referrals and support for survivors of sexual violence.

What to do if you experience violence

Everybody has the right to be safe and live a life free from violence. Gender based violence can be physical, sexual (rape), mental or financial. Threats are a form of violence. Violence can be from people you know – friends, family or partners.

Violence is never ok and it is not your fault.

If you are experiencing violence, help is available:

  • Police 10111
  • Post-violence Care Services dial *134*334#
  • Lifeline 0861 322 322
  • Childline 116
  • GBV Helpline 0800 150 150
  • National Shelter Helpline 0800 001 005