I was raped at four years old by an “uncle”.
(It was only many years later that I found out he wasn’t even a relation!) I never mentioned it to anyone, at that age I wasn’t even sure what had happened. I developed a severe speech impediment as a result and was painfully shy all through my childhood and teens. When I went to family functions and he was there I would hide in a room with a book until he had left or it was time for us to leave. I told my younger sister when I was fifteen, have never told my mother and only my closest friends know about it. It has affected my whole life, to the extent that at 43 I’ve never had consensual sex and refer to myself as a ‘virgin’.
Should I have reported it? Probably yes, but in those days (the early 70’s) there weren’t the resources that there are now for victims of sex crimes and it would have destroyed an entire family.
Even now, I don’t feel that it would achieve anything by telling my mother about it. The man who raped me is now dead and buried and I sometimes pretend to myself that it never happened.
If you are rape survivor based in South Africa and need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to call the ‘Stop Gender Violence‘ helpline at 0800 150 150.
Note: Rape myths abound after virtually every case of rape or sexual violence is brought to light. These myths hurt all rape survivors – and if you ever experience sexual violence, these myths will hurt you too. The most common myth I’ve seen is the fallacy that if you don’t report to the police, it didn’t happen. These stories aim to dispel that myth.
If you would like to include your story in this conversation, please fill in the form below or email me directly at michelle[at]journoactivist.com. I will assume anonymity for all submissions unless specified otherwise.