We want to be able to trust the people who are tasked with the responsibility of protecting us, but they can sometimes turn on us and hurt us.
TRUSTING THE WRONG PERSON
I was a 16-year-old Grade 11 learner when my mother was suddenly transferred to another town due to work and that’s when my life changed in more ways than one. My siblings and I travelled to my grandmother’s house after school until my mother came to fetch us.
I was introduced to her neighbour, Tumi, who was extremely friendly and sometimes bought me food when I came back from school, so I learned to trust him and thought he would never hurt me, but I was wrong.
THE DAY MY LIFE CHANGED
It was after a school trip that my life changed forever. I got injured during the trip and was healing at my grandmother’s house, where Tumi was given strict instructions to look after me. After buying something to eat, I did my homework and was watching TV when I heard a familiar voice calling my name.
I went outside only to be attacked by Tumi, who dragged me to his room. He played some music to muffle my screams as he raped me and once he was finished, he threatened to kill me if I said a word to anybody about what had happened. I ran out so fast I didn’t even notice that blood was dripping down my legs.
KEEPING IT ALL IN
I never said a word about the rape to anyone, but it affected my studies and I failed Grade 11. I repeated Grade 11 at another school, where I thrived and my marks were good. I even adjusted to life in a boarding school.
I then started dating someone, but I wouldn’t let him touch me besides holding my hand. One day my boyfriend surprised me with flowers and tried to kiss me on the cheek, but I lost it and ran all the way to the hostel.
LEARNING TO BE STRONG
I was referred to a psychologist and she diagnosed me with panic and anxiety disorder. After some time, I developed severe stomach cramps and was diagnosed with a peptic ulcer.
All these illnesses were more emotional and psychological than physical and were caused by keeping quiet about the rape. Once I opened up, I was freed. As time went on, I learnt to see myself as a rape survivor and not a victim.
Today, I am a strong, independent, motivated and driven woman. My past taught me not to be too trusting of people and to trust my instincts.
What you can do if someone you know has been raped
Statistics released in Parliament state that 41% of rapes which take place in South Africa are against children as reported by IOL.
According to Focus on a family, the most immediate things you can do for someone who has been raped are:
- Encourage her to seek medical assistance.
- Be supportive.
- Be patient.
- Provide unconditional support and comfort.
RAPE HELPLINE: 021 447 9762