If you or someone you know has been affected by gender-based violence in the form of domestic violence, sexual assault, harassment, or femicide, you are not alone. According to statistics, South Africa has some of the highest rates of gender-based violence in the world (seven times the global average), but help is available.

This ‘Lean on Me’ page is designed to provide information about the available resources in South Africa and how to access them. 

I or someone I know have been assaulted, now what?
Healing from gender-based violence is a process that looks different for everyone. It can be hard to talk about an experience with GBV, and sometimes it may feel most daunting to bring it up with people you are closest to, such as family, friends, or a romantic partner. Whether you choose to tell others straight away or years later, or prefer not to disclose it at all, is completely up to you. Talking about gender-based violence is never easy, but if you do choose to tell someone about your experiences, it can be helpful to have a plan about how you would like to do it.
What you choose to share about your story is completely up to you. If the person you’re telling does not know how to respond and is trying to think of something to say to you, they may end up asking for details of what happened. Just because they asked doesn’t mean you have to tell them. You can always say, “I wanted to tell you that this happened to me but I don’t feel comfortable sharing any more details about it right now.”
From what you know about the person you are planning to tell, do you think they will react in a supportive way? Have you heard them make unsupportive or judgmental remarks about sexual assault when it comes up in the news? Have they shared an experience they have had with sexual assault? Do they know the perpetrator, and if so, could this affect their reaction to your disclosure?
It will be best to have the full attention of the person you are disclosing to and also give them time to process what you’ve shared. If someone is about to go to sleep, leave the house, or is intoxicated, consider waiting for a better time to tell them.
If you feel safe with the person you are disclosing to, then it will probably be best to choose a private place to tell them about what happened. However, if you fear they might become angry or violent, a public location would be safer and you could ask someone you trust to come with you.
The way you choose to tell someone is about what will make you most comfortable. It can be in-person, over the phone, or in the form of a letter. There are positive and negative aspects to each of these ways of telling someone, but it all comes down to what is right for you. For instance, if you are worried about being interrupted or being asked too many questions, writing a letter could be helpful. No matter how you choose to tell someone, it is a good idea to set some ground rules first. You can say something like: “I’d like to tell you about something that’s hard for me to talk about and it would mean a lot to me if you would just listen and not ask any questions.”
Tips for dealing with unsupportive reactions
If someone in your life isn’t supportive, that doesn’t mean that others won’t be. However, while you determine to whom and whether you’ll share your story again, we recommend that you be kind to yourself and take care of your own needs as best as you can. Ask yourself what you are feeling and think of self-care activities that help to ground you and make you feel better. We also recommend speaking with someone who is trained to help through the resources listed below.
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Things to keep in mind

After experiencing gender-based violence, it’s hard to know how to react. You may be physically hurt, emotionally drained, or unsure what to do next. You may need medical attention or emotional support, or considering reporting to the police, but are unsure of where to start. Learning more about what steps you can take following a gender-based violence incident can help ground you in a difficult time.


Finding support

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence or relationship abuse, you are not alone and it was not your fault. Help is available 24/7.

National GBV Helpline

for reporting incidents of gender-based violence. Alternatively, you can send a please call me by dialing *120*7867# for counselling and other services, including shelter.

Domestic Violence Helpline

24/7 toll free helpline for reporting domestic violence including sexual, physical, emotional and financial abuse. The helpline is also accessible via WhatsApp.

National Counselling Line

This line operates 24/7 allowing callers to discuss a range of challenges from trauma and suicide to relationship issues.

Sonke Gender Justice

Sonke is a South African-based non-profit organisation working throughout Africa. They believe women and men, girls and boys can work together to resist patriarchy, advocate for gender justice and achieve gender transformation. Call 0800 333 059 or send an SMS to 33490

Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre

Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre (TLAC)’s purpose is to facilitate access to justice for women who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing GBV. Call 011 331 0088 or visit their website

Thuthuzela Care Centres

Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCCs) are one-stop facilities based in hospitals aimed to reduce secondary trauma. TCCs offer designated forensic and medical service available to rape survivors as an emergency service in the first 72 hours after a rape. There are TCCs across all 9 provinces in South Africa- below is a list of centers available in Gauteng.

Lenasia TCC

Lenasia Hospital, Lenasia South, Johannesburg

Mamelodi TCC

Mamelodi Day Hospital

Masakhane TCC

Tembisa Hospital, Tembisa

Sinakekelwe TCC

Natalspruit Hospital

Baragwanath/Nthabiseng TCC

Chris Hani Bara Hospital, Chris Hani Road, Diepkloof

Kopanong TCC

Kopanong Hospital, Duncanville, Vereeniging

Laudium TCC

Laudium Hospital & Community Health Centre