Safe house for LGBTQ+ survivors of abuse

Philisa Abafazi Bethu is set to open an emergency safe housefor LGBTQ+ survivors of abuse.

A safe house set to open in Kirstenhof next month will offer emergency refuge and care to people from gender-and-sexuality minority groups who have been physically or sexually abused.

Philisa Abafazi Bethu is a Steenberg-based non-profit that helps survivors of abuse. It plans to open the safe house for the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and others) community on November 25, the first day of the 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign.

The organisation will refer abuse survivors to the safe house for up to 72 hours of emergency shelter.

“We’re avoiding that thing of police having to drive around trying to find the right shelter for the person, and shelters are full, so they will be able to drop them off with us,” said Lucinda Evans, founder of Philisa Abafazi Bethu.

Ms Evans said that apart from the Pride shelter in Oranjezicht, there were very few other options for LGBTQ+ people in crisis.

“There are always cases reported, but there aren’t enough services. People don’t know where to go so we are trying to offer that first layer of services. That 72 hours after the incident has just happened, that’s what we will be working with.

There are shelters for women and children, and lesbians and trans people, but I noticed that there was a lack of services for gay men. But we didn’t want to just limit it to that, that’s why we decided to make it an LGBTQ+ safe house.”

The safe house’s exact location will be kept a secret to protect those sheltering there.

The organisation also has safe houses in Wynberg and Steenberg.

“We moved to Wynberg eight years ago, and we used to just help women and children, but in the last three years we opened up to the LGBTQ+ because we saw that there was a need.”

The Wynberg safe house will be closed to accommodate the move to Kirstenhof.

The organisation says it needs R350 000 for renovations at the house, including roofing, walkways and fencing.

Renovations had started in July with the Rotary Club of Newlands covering much of the costs so far, Ms Evans said.

Corrine Hudson, from the Rotary Club of Newlands, said they had supported Philisa Abafazi Bethu for over a decade and were happy to see how it had grown.

Philisa Abafazi Bethu was founded by Ms Evans in 2008 in Lavender Hill, with an initial focus on helping women and children in that community.

Ms Evans was inspired to start the organisation after seeing a man beating his wife in a Lavender Hill street while a crowd watched.

Philisa Abafazi Bethu also runs gender-based-violence, elder-persons, and after-school programmes, and it has a children’s centre, a women’s support group and a baby safe – a receptacle with an alarm for unwanted babies – at 69 Hillview Avenue in Lavender Hill.

Sindiswa Jikela, who lives on the street in Wynberg and identifies as lesbian, said a safe house would be very helpful for people like her.

“I’ve been on the street for over 11 years, and a lot of things happen to us. Someone is beaten or raped every other day, especially if you are gay. That’s the truth. I think (the safe house) is a good idea.”

For more information on Philisa Abafazi Bethu or if you need help, call or WhatsApp 084 521 2897 (all hours) or 081 746 9889 (office hours) or log onto www.philisaabafazi.org

To help with the renovations at the safe house, email Ms Hudson at corrine.hudson@gmail.com