A survivor of sexual abuse speaks out

Date: January 1, 1970
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I have been trying to write, but still, finishing a single paragraph is difficult. However, I pray that today God will make me strong and write my ordeal to the very last end, especially because it is 23rd birthday.

I am a victim of rape.  My biological father has raped me for seven years. It all started when I was doing standard three in 1995, I was ten-years-old by then and staying with both my parents. My mother was a naturally short-tempered person (unelulaka) so I was very scared of her.  Each time I was in trouble with my mother, my father would stop her from beating me but I had to pay for it later when my mother was away at work. She would work four day shifts, be off for two days, then work four night shifts.
He started by telling me to share their bed with him, when mom was on night shift. I remember the first day; he started by telling me nice things. He asked me if I knew what my name means. I told him I did not know, and he told me he and mom prayed and asked for a baby girl and they had me.  He told me many stories until I fell asleep. I thought I was very safe because he said if someone broke into the house, they would not harm me since he will protect me. In the middle of the night, he forced himself in me. It was very painful. I cried and he said if I said anything to my mom, he would kill me and he promised to continue protecting me from my mom’s beating.
He continued doing that for years. It was hell. When I was in form three, my friends were telling stories about their boyfriends and how they lost their virginity. When my turn came, I created a story about a boyfriend who never existed.  I then decided to have many boyfriends to cover up my otherwise hellish life. Sometimes I would sit by the door of my bedroom to stop my dad from coming in; I would sit for the whole night. The only time I slept peacefully was when my mom was on day shift.
Then one day the deputy headmaster called me and really complained about my strange behaviour and about my schoolwork. With difficulty, I told her, she was shocked but she said she could not help me. She advised me to go to my grandmother. I did not take that advice. I started isolating myself; I continued my many relationships for comfort.  Those relationships saved my life because I was thinking of killing myself. I told one of my boyfriends my problem and he was very supportive.
Things did not change, I was in form five and counting six years since my father started his devilish acts. It was 2002. By then I had a strong relationship with my boyfriend (the one I told my problem to) but my dad was too violent against him or any other male who showed interest in me.  One day it came to my mind that I have suffered enough, and I was worried my dad will do the same thing to my younger sisters. So, after he had paid the last amount of school fees I decided to stand up and act.
I went to the same deputy head teacher I told the story to years back, and told her that my dad still rapes me every time my mom was on night shift.  She was shocked and blamed herself for not acting when I told her the same problem two years back.  She asked if I want to report him to the police but I told her that the only thing I am worried about is for him not to rape my little sister.  She promised this time she will do everything in her power to help me.  Indeed she did!
She wrote a note to my mum and asked her to report at the school the following day, which she did, and she told my mom the whole story from two years back when I told her my problem.  My mom almost fainted. She went straight home and asked my dad about the news.  He never denied a thing; he simply said he was very sorry.  “I was misled by the devil. I promise it will never happen again,” and that was the end of it. It was kept as “tibi tendlu” (a family issue) till today!
No one raised that topic again and no one took me for counseling. Whenever I think of the whole thing tears fill my eyes.  I have been trying to write about my experience for four years now but each time I take my pen and begin writing, I just break into uncontrollable tears. I thank the almighty God that after four years of trying to write about my ordeal, at least today He has given me the strength to write this for the first time since it happened.
I do not wish to see someone going through the hell I have been through and I advise parents to be very careful when raising female children.  My dad destroyed my future and he ruined my youth, he took my innocence!
This story is part of the “I” Stories series produced by the Gender and Media Southern Africa Network – Swaziland and Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence.

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