It has been a week since the act but I cannot even walk properly. Every step I take is pure agony for my lower pelvis area. “How did it get to this, and how can I put an end to it?” these are the questions running through my mind as my eyes fill with tears. I was now my own abuser, how did I let this happen to me? Who can I tell about this, who will believe me? “How can I be so dump and yet so intelligent?” I wonder.
It had started way back when it was just harmless children playing house. My cousin who was one and a half years younger than me and my friend had introduced acts of having “sex” whenever we were playing the role of “parents” in our frequent plays. So whenever one was nominated the parent that day it was now a normal routine for us even though we were just children. It was not shameful neither was it taboo, if only we knew better. Whenever we got the chance it was now a regular act that we just had to do, be it when sharing a bed or even sharing a bath. None of our parents ever knew this was going on.
My cousin later moved with his parents, and this led to the seizure of these unmentioned acts but they had left prints behind. This move destroyed our friendship and I was left to grow up in my own world. Years went on by and everything was normal until I got to that stage where the “alone time” had been long enough. With no technique on how to go about searching for friends, anyone was a right candidate.
It started with my bursar at school. Now that I was now in high school and had a phone at my disposal communication was easy. I do not know how we got to exchange numbers but before I knew it we had set up a meeting. All I wanted to do was to get myself a friend, little did I know he was married and had children. To him he had found an “extra serving” that would satisfy his desires whenever he felt like. On our unusual meet he started drawing near, everything changed as all he wanted was to grab and fondle at anything he could reach. I had to get free as everything felt wrong but the damage to my inner self had been done. But how could I get the word out there about such a character being in the public system that served children. How many had been victimized by him? I could not report him for I believed I had brought this on myself. All I could do was hope to never come across such people in my search for friends, little did I know the worst was on its way.
The introduction of the internet by network service providers brought the whole wide world at the tip of our fingers. For me, it also brought traps for my vulnerable self. I managed to create accounts with all the social media platforms I could come across. All this done to find friends. I sent friend requests and chatted with diverse individuals. Some would send me explicit content in a matter of minutes that’s still fresh on my mind. In such instances I was in control since I would unfriend them as soon as they did that. But since I had seen some of the pictures I began to Google explicit content whenever I felt lonely or needed something to occupy my mind. From the internet I found pictures and stories that made me more vulnerable.
From one of the accounts I came across a guy almost my age, and same level at school. He learnt and resided in Mutare. We exchanged contacts, continued to chat over time, regularly spoke over the phone, and it was all good. We even got to discuss sex. I had told him my limits which included no kissing, hugging and making out, the list was endless. He always ensured that it was a regular topic we would discuss, and he tried by all means to convince me to at least try making out with him. But to me it was now a taboo for I was now grown up and knew the consequences.
Finally, exams were over and he had visited his relatives in Harare and I was at home with my sister who was barely available. I just had to meet him, to at least put a face to this virtual friend. The day he arrived, we managed to meet. It was great to finally see him and so we arranged to meet another day. I visited him on the next meeting. He led me to a secluded place and I just thought maybe he just wanted some place where we could sit and talk. We settled down and started talking but there was not much to talk about, we were basically strangers. He drew close to me and started kissing, fondling me. He forced his fingers into my private parts and before I knew it he pulled his penis out and forced me to touch and handle it. I tried to free myself to no avail, told him to stop but all he wanted was to relieve himself. No matter how much pain he was subjecting me to, he didn’t stop. He just had to make sure that he had fulfilled his wish. What had I brought on myself? Who would I tell about this experience?
The point is, these are just some situations where children are subjected to violence and they cannot say anything. It starts at home, and before we know it we have moulded children who are capable of abusing others in some cases, and in others children who are accepting of abuse. If my relatives had known that their sexual acts were embedded in my cousin’s mind and that he was now experimenting them they would have found help for him. They had subjected him to psychological abuse and to him it was a normal activity. This led to him being the abuser and leaving a chain of victims behind him.
From my story I have realised the need for counselling services in schools and our communities. The government should ensure that counselling sessions are compulsory for students and that they should address issues that are faced by each and every student. Children need to be empowered from early age to be individuals who can individually take control of their own lives. These sessions should aim to teach and inform students about their rights so that they are not abused in places where they should be safe. We need to teach our children to be sufficient on their own and also be free to report such cases where their rights are not respected.
Parents also need to be taught to empower their children. With the rise in teenage pregnancies and sexual abuse, there is a great need for the next generation to be given the chance to learn more about their rights, how to keep themselves safe and how to avoid such situations in their lives. All parents need proper guidance on how they can protect their children from future threats of abuse. Children are the future, let us make sure that they are the ‘right people’ to manage the future by giving them proper foundations.
Finally with the rise in technology it has become easy for our children to be exposed to all kinds of materials that can lead to them being perpetrators or victims of gender based violence. As parents and communities let us make sure that we monitor content that our children access. It is our responsibility to teach children morals and teach them the pros and cons of explicit material to them. Let us listen to them and be the problem solvers in their lives. It is our role not to leave room for strangers to be there for them.
Article written by ‘Concerned Survivor’
Main image taken from www.odishasuntimes.com