RELIVING THE TRAUMA: TIME FOR INTROSPECTION
By Lerato Motlhabi
In this captivating piece, UNITAID Blog Competition winner Lerato Motlhabi highlights the traumas of sexual violence and victim-blaming. She questions the causes and actions of perpetrators, urging men to introspect. Trigger Warning: Sexual violence, victim-blaming, abuse, toxicity
It has been years and years since I have been blamed for being raped by ubhuti John (Brother John). Apparently, I was too thick and my skirt was too short. Growing up, I was a pretty chubby child, I did not take note of what I was wearing and whether it would be offensive to grown men to an extent that they would want to take advantage of my chubby body.
Majita (men) how do you get an erection over your niece’s body? How are you able to forcefully open her thighs and not feel any guilt? Why are you so cold-hearted that you still have no remorse of the rape and blame it on her little body?
The victim blaming that I have experienced has even made me blame myself. Each and every night when I lay my head on my pillow tears roll down my cheeks. I have constant questions in my mind. I ask myself if being a chubby child is a sin that rape is a fit punishment for. I ask myself if I had not gone out on that fateful day would the abuse still had followed me in my home. I ask myself if being a chubby girl child is a curse that grown men feel entitled to my body.
Ekse majita (hey men) would you appreciate if your body was violated by someone who overpowers you? Would you heal from the experience if you were raped and had no say in the whole encounter?
I can safely say that my life is ruined, ubhuti John (brother John) made me lose myself in the whole process. I now fear being alone with my own father in the room, I now ask a friend to accompany me to the Principal’s office, because he’s a man and I fear men.
How do you still pump on her body while you see tears coming down her cheeks? How do you still get the pleasure when you see her bleeding?
You broke her.
You broke her spirit.
If you were affected by the above piece, reach out for help fam:
- The Gender-Based Violence Command 24/7 Centre
Emergency Line: 0800 428 428.
Send a Please Call Me to *120*7867#
- South African Male Survivors of Sexual Violence:
Send them a query
Tel: +27 71 280 9918
- The South African Depression and Anxiety Group:
Chat to them here
Mental Health Tel: 011 234 4837
Suicide prevention Tel: 0800 567 567
Send a please-call-me to 083 323 1023
Please speak out about the abuse, it is not your fault. It will never be your fault. There are resources in place and there are people who are willing to help. Keeping quiet will not make the abuse go away. YOU ARE NOT IN THIS ALONE.
MESSAGE TO MEN REGARDING GENDER BASED VIOLENCE AND ASSAULT:
Dear men, understand that a woman’s body is not an object. It is not an invitation for you to do whatever you desire with it. RESPECT women. NO means NO, it does not mean you should try harder. Also study the behavior, if a woman seems to be uncomfortable, LEAVE HER ALONE. If you see another man abusing a woman DON’T TURN A BLIND EYE, intervene and help the poor woman, also educate your fellow brothers that what they are doing is WRONG and they should never raise a hand on a woman nor sexually assault women.
How do you think we can involve men more in the GBV and sexual abuse conversation?