yesterday i got a call from a journalist. she wanted my opinion about rene burger (springbok rugby player, schalk burger’s sister) revealing her identity in the wake of her rape ordeal a few weeks ago, seeing that i, too, went public a few years ago about my experience. she wanted to know if i’ve had any reason to regret revealing the fact that i’d been raped.
i regret being raped. of course. but i don’t for a moment regret standing up and identifying myself as a survivor of someone else’s attempt to make me a victim. unlike rene, it took me years to reveal that information to the public, but if i had to make the choice again, i’d make the same one. and i think she did the right thing by pre-empting the media. i remember when my rapist went on trial. the media obviously could not reveal my identity, but one journalist subtly hinted by describing my friend and i as i sat waiting to testify outside the courtroom – “two women quietly sitting smoking (can you blame me for smoking back then?), one white, one coloured.” it was a kind of signaling and i think rene probably just wanted an end to the speculation and the subtle hinting as to her identity.
we did not have a choice about what happened to us, but we do have a choice as to how we react. i think the only worthwhile thing which can come out of being a rape or incest survivor, is to be there for the next woman it happens to. because there will always be another woman it happens to. unfortunately. there will always be numbers to add to the statistics.
i went public in order to show other survivors that it is possible to overcome this experience. that even going through most women’s worst nightmare, does not mean that the world comes to an end. i went public in order to show that it can happen to anybody. that you can survive. that you can get through just about anything. that life goes on. oh, most of the platitudes you can think of, i am an example that they’re not just that. i am a woman who has been, more than once, through no choice of my own, to the dark side, and come out into the light. i don’t think rene has come through the dark yet, but she knows where she’s headed and i commend her and wish her well on her journey.
i would like to wish her as much dark as she needs in which to cocoon and heal and abundant light to keep at bay the monsters of memory that live in the recesses of the dark. as i like to say, “even a single pixel of bright, defeats the dark.”
p.s. i have a website i created for survivors.
it hosts some of my poems and images as well as online resources and phone numbers where survivors can get support.