This article may be sensitive for certain readers. Please take notice of this. It contains content regarding sexual assault.
Whilst Growing Up
When I was younger, I was always an extremely reserved and introverted kid who felt comfortable in her own skin. I grew up in a sheltered household that was full of love and free of any kind of abuse. I was happy and I will admit – I was fortunate enough to grow up knowing that I was secure and well cared for.
I was raised by my grandparents and single mother – however, despite the fact that my father was absent. I never really took notice of his absence in my life. My grandparents were my role models. They surely, modelled what a healthy relationship looks like and feels like.
My Senior University Years
I was extremely excited and happy at university as one should be – as one would expect someone who is venturing on a new adventure. My world came crushing down when I had my first ever bullying experience during my sophmore year in college. I was spit at by my peers, called all sorts of names because of my Bipolar Mood disorder. And to make matters worse I have always been a socially awkward kid because of my ASD (Autistic Spectrum disorder). I was severely bullied into a depressive and manic episode. Yes, that sounds a bit overwhelming. But I had to soldier on through all of that. I was psychotic too; and started hallucinating because of the constant chatter that was around me. Being constantly ridiculed by how weird I am, how they didn’t understand my behavior and personality.
The Sexual Assault
I had a friend at university whom I used to go to for emotional support. Our friendship was amazing and was smooth sailing. This led me to trust him. And I felt comfortable around him. I constantly went to his apartment, but he respected me and my space – my body too. Despite me being around him and in his space most of the time. Things turned for the worst when I went to his apartment after finishing my finals. I got tied up and sexually assaulted by him. I spent the entire night and morning thinking; contemplating what just happened that night. I felt as though I was being groomed by him so that he could manipulate me. I spent so long being in denial about what happened that night. I refused to acknowledge that I was a victim, that I was raped. By my very own friend. The one guy I trusted.
It took me a year to use the words “I was violated, I was raped“. I felt like my suffering was diminished by a number. I became a statistic, amongst so many young women and men across the country. I felt especially violated when I had to file for a case. I had the PEP kit done to obtain the evidence, as the police officials would say. I cried myself to sleep after that night.
Mind you, I was a virgin before the assault. I had never been physical with anybody. I spent about two years in therapy to help me move on. I felt betrayed. I felt manipulated and humiliated. I felt as though the words rape victim were written across my forehead when I walked down the streets. My shoulders started dropping. My speech got hazy. I lost my voice. I was never able to speak for years. I lost myself. I lost my hopes and dreams.
Why was he able to move on as if nothing happened? Why was I burdened with these scars that he left me with – for me to heal? Why did I have to fall behind in this game called Life, when he continued to live and graduate? Why did I have to have a mental breakdown before I could complete my studies? Why did I have to cry myself to sleep? Will I ever be able to form a healthy relationship? Will I ever date? These are some of the few questions I had. Questions I felt I couldn’t answer. I could barely even hug my friends. I could barely even smile, to save myself. I had lost my mind, I lost my own sanity. I lost who I was. And I contemplated suicide for those two years. I had manic and depressive episodes all in a span of two years. My body was a wreck. My body became wrecked with so many illness, too many for me to even count. Burdened and hopeless. I lost my faith in achieving my dreams.
Rape is a heinous crime. All rape is not to be justified. All sexual assault and rape is painful. Sexual assault is horrible. It makes the survivor feel inhumane.
My healing process and psychosomatic symptoms will be discussed in part two and three.
Thank you for being with me. Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.
If any of you need help after a sexual assault please dial these numbers and visit these websites.
Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust: 021 447 9762 and Rape Crisis Blog.
Tears Foundation Trust: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Tears Foundation.