One man?s love eases the pain of another?s assault

Date: January 1, 1970
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My story is one of pain, but also of love. I am a 22 year old woman from Soweto who hardly knows her father and got separated from her mother at an early age. In a spurt of recklessness that I now truly regret I left a loving relationship with a caring boyfriend to go out with a man who ended up raping me.

As I write this story, I am living in a shelter where I am getting help to lay charges and pursue my case. Because this is a case of date rape, or rape by someone I know, I am getting very little co-operation from the police, who fail to understand how you can be raped by someone you know. Even though my rapist is well known, he has not been apprehended.
My main source of strength and support in these trying times is, ironically, from the very man I left for the man who raped me.
My story begins on 24 April 1984. I was raised by a single mother who, at an early age, gave me to my sister to take care of me after she moved in with my step father. My sister did not sleep at home all the time. Often I would be left alone in a four room house until my cousin came to stay with me.
He worked at a Vodacom shop while I went to school. When I was with him one day, my uncle came from jail after a very long time. He became ill and I had to care for him. No one in the family came to see him. My cousin and I took him to the hospital in the middle of the night. My uncle had passed away on my birthday in 2005.
My cousin hated my uncle for not being there for them when they needed him. My other uncle came to my uncle’s funeral. He told us that he was coming the week after the funeral. I said to him “I know you won’t come back, we will see you after five years.” He said, “I promise to come back.”
I became very ill with an unstable appendix. I had an operation surrounded by my family but without my father. I was hospitalized for over one month. My father came on the last day to take me home. I never saw him again.
I got involved in my first relationship with a man at age 13. The guy made me happy. I got involved with him for five years, until we got separated because he wanted a baby and I was a virgin and scared to have sex. I was still at school that time doing grade 10. I was not ready to be a mother the age of 17.
After separating with him, I got involved in another relationship and I am still in the relationship now. But things went awry when I cheated on him with several guys. He used to come to my place and when he could not find me, or when he asked where I was, I told him that it was none of his business or lied that I was at my mother’s place. He would never fight with me on even assault me but rather say something like: “Baby you know I am not violent person and I won’t do anything to hurt you.” He begged to think very carefully about what I want in life. I would not listen and went on being reckless.
I started dating another guy. After two weeks he started assaulting me for no reason. He took my cell phone. When he found messages from my boyfriend, he would read them and start assaulting me. He never wanted me to go home and asked me to cook for him. He would assault and kick me; when I cried he kicked me more and told me I made noise when I cry.
I remembered my boyfriend’s words and cried again because I regretted everything I had done. The man crashed my cell phone against the wall. I begged him to please let me go. He asked if I loved him. When I refused to answer, he assaulted me.  At abut 3 o’clock in the morning on 21 August 2006 my world came to a shattering halt when this man raped me. He locked me in the house and came after two hours. I was shocked and seriously injured.
His cousins would not help me because they were also scared of him. They tried to stop him, but he did not stop. He told them that they were not there when he met me. He kept telling me that he was going to burn me with petrol or shoot me and scratch my face with a razor blade.
He realised that I was seriously injured and told me that I would not go home until I got better. He locked me in the house again and came back drunk at 8 o’clock at night. He fell asleep with his keys in his pocket. After I had made sure that he was asleep, I took  the keys from his pocket, opened the door and ran away.
I jumped over the wall and kept on running. I became brave and scared at the same time but survived and went straight to the police station.
I arrived at the station at 10 o’clock at night. I opened a case of rape and assault. The police took me to the hospital to be examined by a doctor who wrote a report saying that I had been raped.
The police and I went to look for the rapist but he could not be found. The police took me to a shelter because I had no place to stay. I was scared that he would find me and kill me. The police are still investigating the case. They keep telling me that they cannot find the man. I cannot understand how this is so, since his whereabouts are well known. I know, from the comments they make, that they do not take my case seriously.
After all that had happened, I felt so alone, and plagued by guilt over the way I treated my boyfriend. One day at the shelter my world lit up when received a message from my boyfriend asking where I am. We spoke on the phone. I told him I had been raped. To my surprise he said: “Baby don’t cry, everything will be okay. I am sorry for not being there to protect you when you were raped.” I switched off the phone and cried.
He called in the morning and came during the day. He told me he is going to Venda but came back to see me in November. I take all the mistakes that I have made as a wake up call. I live in hope, that my case will be resolved and that I will pick up my life again. I am lucky to have the support of the shelter, my counselor and my boyfriend. I am finding the courage to make another go of my life.
(This story is part of the I Stories series produced by the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service for the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence). 

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