I have the best siblings in the world – all thanks to my mother who taught them to love, respect and support each other no matter what happens. And that is exactly what they did.

NAUGHTY COUSINS

I am the second youngest of my six siblings. My mom passed away when I was three and my youngest brother and I went to live with my granny. Four years after the death of my mother, my aunt also passed on.

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Her two sons then came to live with us. My cousins were very naughty, especially the older one who was 12 years old at the time. One evening while we were watching TV, I fell asleep. I was woken up when I felt something touching me.

I realised it was my older cousin who forced himself on me. Even though I tried to scream for help, he wouldn’t stop raping me. He threatened me with violence if I told anyone. I was so afraid when he was around the house and avoided him at all cost.

PUNISHED FOR THE TRUTH

My grandmother had no idea what was happening until my younger brother told her. I remember her searching for my cousin in my room and when she couldn’t find him, she beat me up with a stick saying that I was a naughty girl. I was heartbroken.

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I felt like nobody loved me. My grandmother told my older sister about what was happening. But my sister only believed me when she saw my cousin forcing himself on me one night. My cousin then ran away from home. That night I moved to Pretoria with my brothers and sisters.

MOVING FORWARD

Healing was difficult for me. Talking about the incident was impossible because I didn’t know how to put it in words. I was in pain and the only way I knew how to react was with anger. I was frequently told that I had no respect; and that I was rude.

One day my older brother asked me what I would like to become when I grow up. I guess that gave me some hope for the future. From that day onwards we talked about everything. He was the only one I trusted. My older sister is a pastor and encouraged me to pray. We would pray together and just talk. Through prayer I found healing and forgiveness.

*Not her real name