letter to a survivor

when i first moved back to johannesburg to act in the soap i’m now working on, it felt like there was a much bigger reason for my return.  i decided that i would go public about being a rape and incest survivor. i felt like i’d been running for so long and that i’d finally turned around, faced the demon and gone, “BOO!” i did a number of interviews, set up a website with resources for survivors, called phoenix flying and though i’d really rather not be the poster girl for rape and incest survivors (there’s so much else that defines me), from time to time i am contacted by women who make me realize that there will always be a huge need for someone like me. i got a letter from someone on face book and this was my response to her.

thank you so much for sharing your story with me. you know, i tend to think that the only use for experiences like you and i have gone through, is to be there for the next woman it happens to, to be an example, to say, “you’ll be ok. you can survive this.”

i too fled johannesburg after what happened to me – 10 000 miles away, to be exact and it took me 12 years before i was strong enough to come back here. i’m amazed that it’s taken you so little time to get to this point where you can say that you’re over it. it took me much longer, but the path of healing is one we walk our entire lives and we go through different stages on our journey.

you say you’re trying to make sense of what happened to you. i can tell you, what happened to us makes no sense. it’s not something you or i deserved, it’s not because of something you or i did wrong. we were victims of someone else’s lack of morality and lack of humanity, but the thing that sets us apart is that we can choose to be SURVIVORS and not victims. 

how are you and your family after this? did your husband cope? and your child – does he have any idea what happened and how are they dealing with it? 

you say you want to help other women – the best way is to make sure that you’re ok first. you know, all we can do is be there for the women who come after us in whatever situation we come across each other. 

Sunlight in Knowth's western passage on the Equinoxi went public with my story because i thought it was important for people to know that this can happen to anyone. i thought it was important for other “victims” to see that we can survive anything. that we can transcend the dark night and come out into the light and that’s all i can hope for any of us, to come out of that long dark tunnel and out into nurturing sunlight.

by the way, after 3 years back in johannesburg, i’ve revised my perception of my return. instead of turning round, facing the demon and saying, “BOO!”, i’ve clasped my hands together, bowed and said “namaste”.  

i’m making peace with it.

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