n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - Giving voice to the experiences of community-based crisis centre counsellors

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Epidemiological data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), indicates that certain stressors, which include crime victimisation, are prevalent in many international societies - also in South Africa. Moreover, crime statistics show that crime is not only commonplace in South Africa, but that it has become normative rather than extraordinary. Victims experience certain needs following crime victimisation, amongst others, the need for supportive social interaction. One way to address the needs of victims of crime and violence is through the establishment of community-based crisis centres, such as the Sinoville Crisis Centre (SCC). The purpose of this article is to report on a qualitative research study done at the SCC and it explores the SCC counsellors' thoughts, feelings and perspectives on aspects related to its crisis intervention services. The findings, which are founded upon theoretical conceptions described in the related literature, indicate that crisis centres are often unavailable in impoverished communities. Three master themes emerged from the research interviews, inter alia that there is a paradoxical relationship constituted of salutogenesis and pathogenesis; that the counselling paradox implies that there is a cost related to caring but that counsellors could also grow through experiencing the crises of others; and, finally, that a crisis intervention centre such as the Sinoville Crisis Centre displays both strengths and weaknesses. It will be indicated that the long-term prioritisation and provision of crisis intervention services, such as the Victim Empowerment Programme (VEP), should be regarded as a government-level responsibility, but that community-based crisis centres could contribute extensively to the empowerment initiative by engaging with and becoming involved in the VEP.


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