Helping to build a positive image

NICCI MCDOUGALL
Last updated 05:00 12/10/2012

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Sitting around a warm, brightly-lit room at the Southland Rape and Abuse Support Centre in Invercargill yesterday, the bond shared by five bubbly young girls is obvious.

A week ago most of those young girls did not know each other, but the family and sexual violence survivors now share a special bond after a week-long programme aimed to build confidence and educate them.

Funded by the Ministry of Social Development, the programme, run by the Southland Rape and Abuse Support Centre, explored self-image and factors impacting on developing a healthy positive image and relationships.

Through activities such as a ropes course at Adventure Southland and visiting the Clifden Caves, the girls learned how to face fears and respect and look after themselves.

The girls said yesterday they had built up confidence, learnt how to deal with boyfriends, how to say no and how to get out of bad situations.

They also learned to ask for help when they needed it and their rights - "what's OK and what's not OK".

They had bonded and found it helpful to talk to each other. Southland Rape and Abuse Support Centre education facilitator Natalie Bennie said the girls were more open to discussion now than at the beginning of the week.

They had learned how to trust and the activities had helped them to bond.

The girls planned to keep in touch after the programme and said they would leave feeling much better about themselves.

Ms Bennie said one in four females and one in eight males were likely to experience sexual harm in their lifetime, mainly before they were 18. nicole.mcdougall@stl.co.nz

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