Victim Support Room’s door wide open

Sergeant Deidre Solomon of Kirstenhof police, far left, pictured with some of the stations counsellors in the Victim Support Room during the open day on Saturday December 3. They are, from left, Daphne McGivern, Alice Moll, Debra Wucherpfenning, Melissa Cupido and Melanie van Zyl.

The counsellors at Kirstenhof police station’s Victim Support Room consider themselves very lucky.

Despite the grim tales the flies on its walls have heard – stories about rape, domestic violence, theft and more – the counsellors say the room gets wonderful support from the community.

This means it is generally well-stocked with resources, such as rape kits, toiletries, clothing and toys.

The counsellors themselves are also well-stocked on knowledge.

Counsellor Debra Wucherpfenning said they are all well-trained. Of the 20 volunteers only a few are not professional counsellors, nevertheless the station does offer training for lay volunteers.

Every year, during the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, Kirstenhof police have an open day at their Victim Support Room.

This year it was held on Saturday December 3.

The room is open to any victims of crime, Sergeant Deidre Solomon, the communications officer at Kirstenhof police, said.

“And sometimes people just walk in off the street,” Debra said , explaining that on one occasion, a person confused by their sexual orientation walked into the room needing guidance and advice.

“People come here for literally everything,” she said.

“Because we are not always busy with crime – our police officers do very good crime prevention initiatives – so we do a lot of community outreach. The outreach was an initiative by Sergeant Solomon because she saw that the kids coming in needed help more than they needed a criminal record.”

As part of the intiative the counsellors go into schools to advise, talk to and motivate pupils.

“We teach children about the legal implications of doing the wrong things on social media and cyber bullying,” she said.

A team of counsellors also do ongoing counselling with pupils who have behavioural problems.

To the victims of crime that come to the station, the counsellors offer a valuable service. Using a random example, Debra said with a victim of domestic violence for instance: “We would give them a lot of advice, tell them what their options are. If a victim lays a charge we take them step by step through the court process.

“If a rape victim comes in we would then accompany them to Victoria Hospital. We would advise about the court process and go through it with them. It depends on the victim, it depends on how much they would like us to do.”