Facing abuse head-on

Wynbergs Mosaic supports women and men who face issues relating to abuse.

Mosaic’s 25th anniversary was two-fold as they celebrated the work they have done to change the lives of abused women and also launched a book by founder member Rolene Miller.

The NPO marked the occasion at their premises in Wynberg on Thursday November 15.

Dawn Fish, manager of Mosaic’s Court Support Programme, spoke about their beginnings.

“Mosaic opened its doors for the first time on July 17, 1995 in a room allocated by Ikamva Labantu (in their offices in Spin Street, Cape Town). Twelve women from all walks of life, different age groups, different cultures, were chosen through interviews by Ms Miller. The first year in Mosaic was dedicated to ‘healing the healer’ allowing the women to first deal with their own painful experiences and more. Then women were taught to counsel, assertiveness skills, facilitation/ presentation skills and workshop skills.”

Mosaic, whose motto is to support, heal and train, have helped many abused women and the worst cases Ms Fish has seen while working in the community and courts was where “clients were killed by their partners even while they were in possession of a protection order.”

Southern Mail spoke to one of the abused women from Retreat who shared how Mosaic “changed her life”.

After an eight-year abusive relationship with her former boyfriend, she finally “took control” of her life.

The woman said she met the man after her husband died and her two sons were fond of him. However, he exploited her sexually.

The constant abuse led her to being suicidal and admitted to Valkenberg hospital.

Eventually she broke up with him but out of desperation she called him to ask for money. When they met he hit her with his fist and when she threatened to go to police he choked her as he swore at her. She managed to get away and went to report him to the police.

“He was arrested but is apparently out on bail,” said the woman who was referred to Mosaic. She said Mosaic’s sessions encouraged her to become stronger. “I learnt a lot. I am not scared anymore as I have my dignity through faith in God.”

Ms Miller’s book, Womandla! Women Power! was launched in the run up to the 16 days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign, from Sunday November 25 to Monday December 10.

It took Ms Miller eight years to compile the book, which includes some success stories as well as how everyone at Mosaic has grown.

Mosaic has evolved from initially caring for women to now working with men and boys who need help.

“Thank you to all of you for your dedication which allows us to be one of the best organisations that serve abused and violated women, men and children in our society,” said Ms Miller.

“When I registered Mosaic I didn’t know if we would survive for 25 years and I’m so proud that we have survived and are flourishing today.

“In 10 days’ time on November 25, the 16 days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children campaign begins. This is an important time for Mosaic because we work significantly against violence and abuse of women.

“During the 16 Days we have to remind society that Mosaic exists and we have to focus attention on the work that our organisation accomplishes on a daily basis.”

Speaking about Womandla! Women Power! Ms Miller said: “We hope many readers in South Africa can learn important lessons about abuse and self-esteem that we all learnt through Mosaic.”

Ms Miller started writing the book about eight years ago but did alot of work over the last two years. She said her computer had a “strong magnet inside”, which drew her to it every day and all day.

“When I had something else to do I felt that it was an intrusion into my writing time.

“So I kept my nose to the grindstone and I drank many cups of hot chocolate and coffee to keep me going.”

Womandla Women Power! covers three busy and often unsettled years of their lives from 1995 to 1998 when they first started Mosaic.

“It is filled with both personal stories and practical stories from all of us involved in the new and innovative Mosaic and our services for abused women.”

This book also contains the personal stories of how Mosaic’s women arrived in class with their low self-confidence and then slowly became empowered to help abused women. “It was personally painful and emotional for me to write Womandla Women Power! I was overwhelmed with so many memories. I had to decide which memories I should write about and which I should discard.

“Which betrayals should I describe in the book that traumatised us in Mosaic and which I should leave out?

“Today as I launch Womandla I want to thank so many people who contributed to the creation of Mosaic,” said Ms Miller.

Call 021 761 7585 for more information about the book.