It bothers me…I’m not sure exactly how however it is time to change things. To make a difference. After a sequence of several events over the past few weeks (months….years!), I’m feeling beat. It won’t last long considering the person I am, however, I am there now and I’m acknowledging this and try and remain present. I’ve come to realise that my “job” or life purpose have always been to help others. As it’s many of our life purposes.
Usually, you’d find someone who has been through some traumatic experiences; become either a beacon for others or the other end of the spectrum and face self-destruction. This does not make you weak or strong. Sometimes we are just not ready or just have had enough OR we feel tenacious about living and giving and changing and growing. Sometimes that would happen soon after trauma and other times it would take years and years. Why am I telling you this?
During my personal lifetime I was sexually abused and molested. I was physically and psychologically abused…as a child and as a partner and adult. I am part of the statistics.
DID YOU KNOW: It is estimated that over 40% of South African women will be raped in their lifetime and that only 1 in 9 rapes are reported. It is also estimated that 14% of perpetrators of rape are convicted in South Africa.
Sexual offences is a broad crime category that includes rape, compelled rape, sexual assault, incest, bestiality, statutory rape and the sexual grooming of children. The number of reported sexual offences increased to 52,420 in 2018/19 from 50,108 in 2017/18. Most of these were cases of rape. The sexual offences crime rate increased from 88.3 per 100,000 in 2017/18 to 90.9 in 2018/19.
South Africa’s legal definition of rape is broad. It includes the oral, anal or vaginal penetration of a person (male or female) with a genital organ, anal or vaginal penetration with any object and the penetration of a person’s mouth with the genital organs of an animal. The police recorded 41,583 rapes in 2018/19, up from 40,035 rapes in 2017/18. This means an average of 114 rapes were recorded by the police each day. The rape rate increased from 70.5 in 2017/18 to 72.1 in 2018/19. But the police’s rape statistics should not be viewed as an “accurate measure of either the extent or trend of this crime”.
THERE IS NO RECENT NATIONAL REPRESENTITAVE ESTIMATE HOW MANY WOMEN ARE RAPED IN SOUTH AFRICA EACH YEAR
With ALL of my sexual abuse; I never reported it. I did not reach out to anyone. I was afraid of being judged. Afraid that it was actually my fault. I should never have had alcohol that night, or should never have told him that I liked him. I should never have worn the type of clothes I wore. Maybe he didn’t hear my “no” loud enough. Maybe I didn’t scream “no”, it was, in fact, a thought in my mind. Maybe I was dirty like he told me I was.
My first sexual abuse I don’t remember much as I was three. My second rape was when I was 16 and was bunking school with my best girlfriend and two guys we knew from the boy’s technical school. We got alcohol from another friend and got absolutely wasted. I passed out at some point; the clearly remember screaming as it felt like a hot poker was being pushed up between my legs. The amount of blood was frightening. I had a crush on him… he was smart and kind, and incredibly gorgeous… he raped me. The police arrived and escorted everyone back to school where their parents were being called. I am not sure how or why but I went directly to my house. Where I alternated between bathing and showering. My mum got home and was beyond infuriated with me, however when she saw my knickers the shame that washed over me is still today unexplainable. She insisted that I told her what happened and I lied. I told her it was ‘that time of the month’.
When I was 19 I briefly dated a well-known individual who loved to parade me around in front of his peers, family and friends. He forced himself onto me within the first week of dating and forced me to wash him and his genitals after; as I was “disgusting”. I did not speak of this until years later when it dawned upon me that these events have left me questioning my self-worth.
This past week I have gone to our local police station to report suspicion of sexual abuse of a minor; yet was not only treated like I was the offender; I was told that if the mother did not want to take care of this, or know about it, then I should not get involved. That I should keep my nose out their business. This same week a friend of mine had to report the theft of her intellectual property used and distributed without her say-so or knowledge. She was helped by a female police officer that insisted she shares the private information verbally whilst she was surrounded by men at the station. She insisted that the friend must share the intellectual property by printing it off.
I am fortunate enough to have met incredible people who are able to assist us with and opening cases and investigating these crimes, however how about all the hundreds of thousands young girls and women who do not have the contacts we have??? Nevermind the silent men?? How do you explain to your children that the police station is not really the place to go to (unless you need an affidavit drawn up, stamped and signed). That they are not really the folks that will assist and protect you. Our system is so severely flawed that you look at some of the stats and think “no wonder”. There’s a handful of people out there that are incredibly passionate about what they do and will go out on a limb to assist; however, to get to those people seems to be the challenge.
It’s time for a change, and amidst all that is going on; there are women and children currently at home who have NO-ONE to talk to, turn to or get help from. Though I can assist only so much; I have decided that I want to be that beacon of hope. That one person that will not only not judge; but also help where ever and whenever. Being in the position that I am; become a spokesperson for those who do not have voices, and guide and teach as many women (and men) as possible about your rights, your safety and your plan for healing and/or escaping.
Should you know someone or of someone that needs help please contact me. Let us stop the silence and combat sexual abuse.