The events of the night of my assault to date still re play very clearly in my mind, how the man touched me, how he pushed me into the bushes, how he wreaked of alcohol and cigarette smoke, how dry and dirty my mouth felt as he forced his tongue down my throat, and how I pleaded with him to stop, but he did not listen; and though I was drunk, every single part of this moments of violation I can remember.
I recall how tormenting it was for me to sit besides my mother in the hospital waiting room because I could feel her sense of remorse, guilt and deep pain as she kept asking me why I had to drink but I remember at that exact moment I was having an out of body experience mostly staring at the floor in a daze of shame and disbelief fighting hard to come to terms with the reality that was, I had been raped.
My recovery journey has truly been what I have come to call the fight of my life. The truth of the matter is that no one can ever fully understand or relate to what you are going through after you are violated in the form of rape, especially if it is your first time as in my case, but you want to know something else? Silence will not help either.
It has taken me more than 4 years to fully come to terms with the reality of what happened to me and I am still struggling to be open and communicative with people about my incident For so long I always thought I was alone however I have been very perplexed by the feedback I have recieved from a number of women who say that they have been through a rape but never revealed it due to the shame and trauma associated with it. The truth of the matter is that your Body Is your Right, not any other persons and as long as you do not agree to something, it is wrong and you need to be given the justice you deserve.
In Kenya where I am from, sexual violence is rampant. Based on the records presented by the Nairobi Women’s hospital to the Kenya National Commission of Human Rights in 2006, a woman is raped every 30 minutes and for most of these women it is their first sexual experience .
The Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya state that women’s access to post-rape health care is largely affected by lack of education about the services, limited resources to pay for them and stigma by communities and people towards victims of sexual violence.
According to UN Women, an astounding one in three women have experienced physical or sexual violence in their lifetime and unlike an illness the perpetrators and even entire societies make a choice to commit violence and can choose to stop. Violence is not inevitable. It can be prevented. But it’s not as straightforward as eradicating a virus. There is no vaccine, medication or cure. And there is no one single reason for why it happens. As such, prevention strategies should be comprehensive, with multiple interventions undertaken in parallel in order to have long-lasting and permanent effects.
Of late, I run an empowerment program for young girls and boys within slums and I am amazed at how many young girls open up and speak of rape and the fact that it is a reality they are almost being forced to accept as a norm, or a synonymous to living within the slums.
The girls always talk of having no avenues to communicate and having no one to share with and this is the gap I am trying to fill. I am no expert but my experience is my guide and I hope to keep using it, and you can do the same. There are many girls out there who need a reason to keep going, have the courage and braveness to be able to live a normal life and you are that voice and reason.
I chose to work with boys too because for so long the fight against violence of women has been centred around women however the truth is men should be involved too because it affects their lives too.
For you having a hard time dealing with your rape, just know it gets better always, It is not easy but you will get there; I went through a downward spiral and resorted to living a life of bitterness trying to fill my void with alcohol, anger and meaningless relationships but it only made me worse. I was existing but not living and most days I just broke down.
The truth of the fact is that I will never have an amazing first time story and I may always have a hard time connecting with men, but I have to move on. My rapist is out there living his life and I may never know who he is and probably he will never face the consequences of his actions, this is all due to my decision to not report the case out of fear, and I can only imagine how many more girls are at risk of facing him yet sadly he is moving on with his life, and for so long I have not.
I had to forgive him to allow my healing process to begin and that was the most freeing day of my life. With women such as Charlotte Campbell-Stephen who fought for close to 7 years just to have her rape case settled, I have however promised myself that I will be a voice of change and I pray to get the strength to keep going because it is a healing process every step of the way.
Use your voice as your weapon, not silence. Let’s speak out against violence of women.