16 days… a lifetime

i was 4. auntie kay’s sons held me down and rubbed up against me in the pantry, threatening to tell everybody what my stepfather was doing to me if i told anyone.

at 8, my favorite cousin jacques did the same thing in the potato field above my grandfather’s house. another secret to add to the BIG SECRET i was already spending all my energy guarding…

at 9, dulcet-toned uncle arthur told me he’d give me 5c if i opened my mouth when he kissed me goodnight.

i was in the principal’s office for career counselling when i was 12, when he nonchalantly stepped behind me and slid both his hands inside my shirt and over my breasts while telling me that i was smart enough to be a doctor.

around 14, the dirty old man who was my piano teacher, forever made me toss aside any aspirations of music… and my mother never could understand why.

and then there were the countless perverts i stupidly exposed myself to, hitching to and from school each day. all of this in addition to what was happening when my stepfather could get me alone…

we’re nearly at the end of the 16 days of activism for no violence against women and children campaign. a campaign which always leaves me ambivalent, seeing that i think 16 days is an arbitrary and somewhat ineffectual amount of time! this needs to be a year-round campaign.

after working on the slutwalk for so long this past year, i was a little exhausted and had to just take a moment to step back. however, 2 nights ago an hour long interview i recorded months ago about being a survivor, went out on kyknet and ever since, i’ve been overwhelmed by messages in my inbox from women and men who are walking the same path. so, the reality is, there are still too many of us. the statistics are still too high – and in my opinion, if it stood at 1, it would still be too high. there are still too few of us reporting, speaking out, realizing that no matter what we were doing, wearing, saying, sexual assault is never our fault.

if you’re a survivor, report, find someone safe and trusted to speak to, carry your head high and realize it’s not your fault. and know that YOU CAN SURVIVE THIS. if you’re someone who wants to know how to help, there are many organisations which work with survivors. buy a heart on the rape crisis website or make a rape care handbag for rape crisis or the jes foord foundation. 

during last year’s 16 days akona ndungane of akmosaic and i were motivated to start a website called i said no, a place where survivors can break the silence and tell their stories, anonymously or otherwise. there are also links to resources. if you have a story to tell, why not start here?

p.s. despite those incidents listed above, i would like to thank the many wonderful men i have met in my life who have proven to me that not all men are monsters…

9 thoughts on “16 days… a lifetime

  1. Once again, I’m so proud of you, my friend, for having not only overcome so many challenges, but committed yourself to awareness, activism and making a difference in any way you can. Lovely, eloquent, heartbreaking post.

  2. Wow. Thank you for this. My neice has been being abused by her “stepdad” and I want to be able to help her know that it wasn’t anything she did. He was put in jail. But the damage he caused cannot be undone. Do you think you can give me some advice on how to get her talking? She tells me everything since she was in diapers. Haven’t seen her in 12yrs. So I could use any help I can get to be there to help her through this.


  3. Thank you for being so brave and sharing your story. I’m trying to do the same thing. It takes strength. You’re an inspiration for survivors 🙂

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