Date: April 6, 2016
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I am Michelle and I am 39 years old. The reason why I am telling my story is to inspire and motivate others that a person can go through hell but through prayer and through loving and appreciating yourself you can come out a better person.

At the age of ten (10) I contracted vitiligo, a skin problem. All over my body white spots would appear. The children at school started teasing me and said that I was becoming a ‘missus’. Everyone looked at me with a ‘oh shame’ facial expression. I felt like a mistake and my dad use to shout at my mother saying that it’s because of her sleeping around that I looked the way I looked. He abused my mother a lot and when he left us my mother married another man. I began accepting myself and mostly concentrated on my schoolwork. I excelled on school.

At the age of 13 I was molested by my father in law. It was the most traumatic experiences of my life because I was even afraid of the dark because the ‘monster’ would come into my room at night in the dark. My issue was why couldn’t my mom stop it? She was supposed to be my mother. But she made as if she knew about nothing. I didn’t know if it was because she wanted to protect him because he married her with two (2) children or was it because he was the breadwinner. I even tried to commit suicide but she still sided with her husband and made as if I was the trouble maker and problem child.

At the age of 15 I met a guy. He was a drug merchant and much older than me but I entered into a relationship with him because he made me feel safe. He beat me a lot, so much that on many days I could not even go to school. My mom embarrassed and scold at me in the streets, she even approached the police but I was not bothered by her because where was she when her husband sneaked into my room at night. I thought why she was putting up a scene now. For three (3) years it continued like this and anything that my boyfriend would buy she would burn in the streets. This was very embarrassing for me as her child and this forced me deeper into drugs and I started experimenting with mandrax.

Then I fell pregnant at 16 years old, she started resenting me and I had to leave school. She was very disappointed because despite everything I was a clever child (academically) and she had many expectations for me. Then I think to myself can it be because this woman allowed her husband to harass me. I carried this hatred inside of me for many years. When my son was only seven (7) months his father was shot dead. This was very sad because as a teenager I had to raise my child alone.

I started working and always covered my arms and legs because I thought that if my employer saw the white spots on my body he would not allow me close to his fruits. One day visitors came and I was wearing a short sleeve t-shirt and standing at the sorting table when my supervisor called me urgently and said that I go to the canteen or toilet for a while until the visitors are gone because they were apparently a major client. On that day it wasn’t really an issue for me but today I realise that what she did to me was very wrong because she discriminated against me because of my skin but I let bygones be bygones.

At the age of 18 I went to visit my cousins in the City for the holidays. There we became part of a group doing drugs and drinking and I was raped by two men. I didn’t even tell my aunt or my cousins because they would say it was my own fault that these things happened to me so I just continued with life.

Back at home I started being reckless and didn’t care for anyone. I joined a gang and at 20 years old I fell pregnant again. My second child was not even one year old when I met my current husband. I felt that he was the love of my life and to my regret I told him everything, why entire past. One day I just exploded at home and shouted and told my mother everything I had hidden in my heart for all the years. She called me a liar who was is a failure and who now wants to make her life hell by accusing her husband of such things. She hit me with a glass against my forehead and threw my clothes out the house. I then went to live with my new boyfriend (a married man). He was a busy divorcing. Although her stood by me, whenever we had an argument he would remind me of my past. I had to endure the embarrassment because I had nowhere else to go.

At 24 years old we got married and a beautiful daughter was born in our marriage. At the age of 30 I did my matric with ABET and two years later I studied human resources part-time at Boland College. I was the best student in my class but could not complete my N6 because I was not by the means financially. In 2010 the work offered me a learnership on food processing, sorting and packaging and in 2012 I did a learnership in business management. Next year (2016) I am receiving a diploma from Stellenbosch University for business management. I attend many workshops in order to empower myself as a women with more knowledge.

I forgave my mom and stepfather, even my husband who still daily reminds me of my past but I decided that it is my life and my body. It is about what I make of it. It is important to believe in one self.

I received advice for my vitiligo and I am now busy with an opportunity to make my own ointment. Maybe in the future I will expand my business and even reach people in other places with these white spots. My dream is actually to make my own ointment, to market it and then export it.

Since the first day I was at the workshop and doing the I story I started accepting myself more and opening up. By talking about the molestation as well as the rapes. The workshops taught me how to handle the situation.

In my life I just accepted things as they are lived with the psychological and physical abuse. After the second phase I decided that enough is enough. I am not going to live in a box anymore. I had to get out. I started living my life as it suits me and started doing what makes me feel good. For my husband that was something new because he was so use to us just doing things his way. Nowadays it’s my way whether he scolds or stresses that’s his problem. I enjoy my life completely my way.

I also learned that if you love yourself and believe in yourself you can reach new heights. I don’t have a business plan yet, but I am busy with an idea. I learned about business plans, where to go for financial assistance as well as a few tips. As soon as I am ready to start my own business, I have all my information on how to produce it, market it so that my clients can be happy.

I believe that before 2030 I will have my own vitiligo chemist with personally prepared medication.