by Abigail Radebe
A gentle, yet rough grab on the throat accompanied by a push towards the wall. Panicking, not sure whether to scream or not. Questioning myself about what could happen next. To be precise, my body turned cold and numb as I watched my so-called boyfriend force himself on me. The consistent whispering on my ear saying…’ I won’t hurt you, relax you’ll be fine’. My body turned from cold to freezing. Do I run downstairs to inform his family of this imposition? Do I fist up and fight back against this violation? I am 19, dating someone I thought I can trust.
How do I look my mother in the eye and tell her that I am sexually active? I am afraid to engage my mother in such conversations. The 19-year-old girl in me became detached, cold and untrusting because of what one guy did. Would you like to take a bath, a sandwich and when are you getting dressed? Words of a man who just took advantage a vulnerable girl (An affirmation; that a perpetrator admits no wrong, turns not the other cheek to his shame but rather believes in his innocent as part of the community but it is our responsibility to mend this plague out of society ).
The problem with such situations is that once you let one guy get away with it, you allow others to do the same thing until it develops into a pattern. I reminisce, wrestling “What-If’s” and wondering whether the events of the day could’ve unfolded differently if I had screamed when I had the chance. This is the day that was supposed to be my birthday. The day I get to celebrate life and growth. This day was supposed to be added into those memories I create each and every year when I turn a year older but unfortunately it’s one of those years I live to regret. Visiting old age homes, orphanages and other organizations on my birthday is merely an escape that flushes out that memory.
4 years later I find myself in the same predicament again but this time around it’s someone close to me. Slight comments passed before a pat on the back that is followed by a disgusting giggle. This person is supposed to be on my side but he rather would rather violate me instead. What did I do to give them such an impression (Why should we be asked what we did to give the perpetrator that thought of raping us as if we begged for it?) I won’t be censored anymore. I spoke out and I am proud of myself for standing up to hypocrisy.
Study shows that 1 in 4 women are raped by their partners on a daily basis but can’t report it because apparently not all reported cases are classified as rape. How do we then date men we are scared of saying no to? ‘Lebitso lebe ke seroma’ African proverb that means a child acts according to their name either be it that the name means something good or bad. My father named me ‘Dimakatso’ (meaning surprises) my mother named me Abigail (means father’s joy). Everything I’ve been doing has surprised the family. From my career choice to the everyday life choices I’ve made.
As a woman, I believe there’ll always be that one guy that chooses to force himself on you and when that happens always remember that you are not the problem, You didn’t ask for it. Stand your ground and fight it. Report the matter if you have to. Just do something rather just stand watching him do as he pleases. Someone asked me why is it that when I speak, I speak like but I’m not heard. I raise my voice and I repeat myself as if the person listening isn’t hearing me. After being raped by my boyfriend and having my uncle attempt to rape on me too I always acknowledge the need to speak from a position where I feel like I’m heard and most importantly a position where I am understood.
If you are violated in any way please report it, seek help from different organisations and help get the perpetrator punished for their actions. The sooner women and children understand that it’s not their fault to get raped, more victims will come forth. Women actually standing their ground to fight this disgusting social ill should encourage others to do so. Rape is an act irresponsibility and lust, not the women’s fault.