Exploring the composition of restorative environments conducive to post traumatic report and recovery processes in young women : towards an inner city support centre for young women in Durban.
Eneman, Julie Marie-Ange.
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This dissertation argues that research in Restorative Environments should begin to analyse situations in which restoration is actively promoted to treat specific conditions. The trauma of rape, sexual assault and abuse has been explored in this dissertation as a negative precursor, which requires physical, psychological, mental, and social restoration. By applying an understanding of this trauma, and its inherent constructs, the existing frameworks of Stress Recovery Theory (SRT) and Attention Restoration Theory (ART) have been redefined to meet the needs of the victims. Using a feminist standpoint, and a constructivist-grounded methodology, an analysis of the existing literature, several precedent studies, architectural case studies, and a series of in-depth interviews with victims advocates from a Non Profit and Non Government organisation based at several local Police Stations, the Department of Social Development Offices, and the Thuthuzela Care Centres, revealed several themes which formed the overall framework of the research argument, and its subsequent conclusions. (1) Refuge, in the form of a sense of safety and retreat are essential to disclosure. The integration of Perception Theory, particularly in terms of multi- sensory design, can create a sense of warmth and refuge in the built form. (2) Reflection, in terms of instoration, and cognitive and aesthetic distraction, can facilitate victim self-regulation. The use of Biophilic design principles, and particularly fractals, can promote reflection within the built form. (3) Reintegration, through a sense of belonging and normality promotes longer term recovery. The incorporation of the principles of Sense of Place can initiate longer term reintegration and restoration in the built form. Furthermore, through the fieldwork component of the research, this dissertation has concluded that although the functional medico-legal aspects of hospital crisis care environments and police report environments in Durban are reported to be generally well considered, an understanding of these experiential themes of Refuge, Reflect and Reintegrate, are not typically incorporated into these environments. Additionally, as a means to support the existing environments for report and recovery in Durban, there are several Non Profit and Non Government Organisations who have set up their own support facilities to meet the various longer term legal, psychological and medical needs of the victims. Unfortunately, their lack of infrastructure, funding and environmental connection to formal first response environments, such as hospitals and police stations, have resulted in a disconnect between points of first disclosure and continued recovery. This dissertation has concluded that this impedes the recovery of the victims and arguably reduces the number of cases reported. In the context of the ongoing stigma around cases of rape, sexual assault and abuse, the design of positive environments for tackling the layers of toxicity experienced by the victims- from the initial report stage, through the healing phases, and into the final stage of re-integration into society - is more important than ever. And as such, more research, and practical measures should be taken to understand how a single cohesive report and recovery environment can meet the many perceptions, experiences and needs of the victims - whether immediate or long term, physical or psychological, individual or group.