Breaking The Silence March 17, 2019 00:00
This week I read a story that made my heart leap into my mouth. Sexual abuse is never easy to hear about, but this story made my blood run cold. Perhaps because the abuse was repeated throughout her life by different people made it seem easy and commonplace.
Sexual assault and abuse can undermine so much in our lives. Besides the obvious effects with intimacy and relationships, there are so many subtler, more insidious consequences that are incredibly difficult to root out and overcome.
Here's her story.
I am a full time model, mother, brand builder, friend and promotor of love and kindness. I come from a financial background, however I gave that up to pursue my dreams.
My dad was in the military police, and as such we lived for a period in Rundu South West Africa, during the Angola civil war.
The first time was sexually abused was when I was more or less three. I do not remember the person, how, when or much at all.
It was traumatic enough for me to think of “sex” and “private parts” as bad things.
Years later we moved back to South Africa.
I was 15 years old in standard 8 (grade 10) when my best friend and I bunked school and met up with two boys from the technical boys school in our neighbourhood. I had such a crush on the one boy; and obsessed about him; so needless to say this day was exciting for me.
Another friend told us where and how to get into her parents’ property if we wanted alcohol; which we did. We all made our way to the pan close to my house and sat there getting belligerently drunk
I must have passed out as at some point I remember coming to and in excruciating pain between my legs.
No idea why I said this but I blurted out “But I told you that I’m a virgin”, after which I have a blank spot in memory. My next memory is of the police arriving and taking the others all back to school. I don’t know why I didn’t get picked up with them, but I somehow made it home.
When I got home, I immediately climbed into the shower. I tripped myself on the way to the bathroom. The shower was not sufficient. So I ran a bath and climbed into it. Dipping my whole bode into it time and time again.
Again, it was not adequate, so I jumped back into the shower.
At some point my mum arrived home. School had notified her of our antics. Bare in mind that at this point she’s a single parent of four; so being summoned home by my school principal would not have sat well.
I do not remember where she found me (shower, bath or in between) but I know she was livid. Then she saw my underwear. She started crying and shouting at the same time. I just remember telling her that I swore I just started my menstrual cycle.
I knew she didn’t believe me. I also know that she didn’t know what to do.
This was never reported or spoken of again.
A year later I went to a friend’s house where I slept over. She had her boyfriend and his friends over. I woke up in the middle of the night with a boy naked over me and his hands fumbling to get my underwear off. I kneed him between his legs. He scurried away once he was able to. I never spoke to him prior or after and never even saw his face.
A few years later, my relationship with my mum had deteriorated to the point that the only form of communication were arguments. We simply did not see eye to eye on anything. I was fresh out of school, and had a part time job at Health and Racquet after my day time job as a fitness instructor.
There I met a bunch of Lebanese boys that I became friends with. One particular guy paid me attention and I guess being called princess and treated as such in front of everyone made me fall for the guy. He was very much respected in his community as well as feared (in hindsight that should have led the alarm bells off).
Very soon into our relationship he took me out but said we needed to stop off at his place to get something. He started kissing me and eventually plucking at my clothes. I pushed him away and said that we should hurry or else we will be late. He would have none of that and continued groping and grabbing onto me. Eventually I had enough I told him that I wanted to leave.
This angered him to the point where he stripped me off my clothes, dragged me to his bed and threw me onto it. I realised then I was in trouble. First, I spoke to him gently telling him that I’m sorry for upsetting him but I knew how he felt about punctuality. After that didn’t work, I begged and cried. His massive frame crushed me and I do recall whimpering throughout “no, no, no, no, no….”
After what felt like an eternity he got up and went to his en suite. He called me second later furiously barking that I am dirty and made him dirty. He wanted me to clean my blood off of him.
He told me I was a disgrace and he would not be seen with someone that’s so fucked up.
I grabbed my torn clothes and quickly put it on. He dropped me off at home, in front of our main gate at 11 that night. He didn’t wait to see whether I got inside safe, or whether I even was safe.
I never reported it and never told anyone.
I saw him shortly afterwards in the circle that I was mixing with, with his new girlfriend. He would mock me by telling everyone how fantastic this new girl was in bed whilst smiling and looking me in the eyes.
I have kept all these stories to myself. I have never felt the need to share it. I have no problem telling anyone who asked; that I was sexually assaulted several times in my life. I know it wasn’t my fault. I never felt compelled or the need to give the above details. It’s a part of my life that I have tried to shut out alongside other incidences that were traumatic enough at the time.
My husband knows that I have gone through these experiences however I have never told him the details.
These events have had a strange or perhaps not so strange impact in my life. My mind is strong enough to have worked through these events knowing that whomever I loved was not going to hurt me like that.
I have however always had a challenge with intimacy.
I have come to realise at my age, that as much as I thought I was okay, I am not. I have to work through things. I have also realised that I have a severe case of PTSD and I need to work through that.
That and trust. Which is currently also a challenge. My biggest demon.
I’ve been toying with the idea of participating with the #metoo initiative for long now.
How does this affect my profession? It doesn’t at all. Ironically, I am in a profession where I bare so much of my body. To me this is an extension of myself. Me expressing myself. Me taking power back. Knowing that I am in full control and no one has a say over what I do. Me being daring and expressive. Me – regardless of my past – loving my human body.
When you meet me; you will know that I am a strong empowered woman. I will admit that seeking help is not a sign of weakness. However I will not – and never had – allowed any of this to hold me hostage.
That is one of my biggest triumphs.
I am still working on myself and will be receiving extra help, coaching, advising, counselling and will continue to work on myself.