Reality of a matric rave

2008-12-17 00:00

I have a story to tell which is not my own experience but that of a person who shall remain anonymous. I am sure that there are hundreds of stories like it.

To set the scene, it is the end of the year and the matrics have just finished a tough year of hard work and extreme pressure. So, to let off a little steam from an incarcerated year, a week away at Ballito or Umhlanga, the event commonly known as “matric rage” or “rave” gives these teens the opportunity to be free from parental control and school discipline at last.

Eighteen-year-olds and even some 17-year-old boys and girls use this week to do everything they have been prevented or restricted from doing by their school, parents, guardians etc. They use the opportunity and freedom to push beyond boundaries by experimenting with alcohol and even drugs. Alcohol is the main ingredient for this beach mayhem. It is a time for girls to let their hair down and (I am sorry to say) for boys to let their pants down. Obviously this does not apply to everyone; however, it is the reality of the majority of teens at the matric rage. I know this because I was once there participating in the tequila downings and knocking back those alcohol shots one after the other after the other. It was a form of escape and celebration from the stressful year that had just ended. Besides, everyone else was doing it, so why couldn’t I? I drank my world to oblivion and everything became a blur of alcohol, vomit and boys. Not a pretty picture. But it does get worse.

Most teens walk into this land of freedom and make alcohol their best friend for a week. However, they are unaware of the consequences and dangers. Everything becomes more jovial after every shot glass so why on Earth would you want to stop!? The reality is that life is full of cruelties that one only realises when it is too late.

This rage-rave week is the first week of complete independence. These teens are no longer sheltered by mum or dad. They walk blindly on with their other blind mates egging them on. They approach the darkness unprepared and armed with alcohol making their decisions. Drunk, young, naïve, innocent, and especially female, is a bad recipe — real-life preys on this combination.

Now that I have set the scene of the happenings during matric rave I can move on with this familiar story that happened not more than two days ago and that is still most probably occurring at this very moment to many other innocent teenage girls. To briefly sum up the events (I have eradicated most details so as to save the identity of the party), girl is influenced by friends to drink excessive amounts of alcohol, girl then becomes well on her way to inebriation, girl then goes to the clubs to have a good time. The story does not end where mum or dad picks her up and she is tucked away by 1.30 am.

There are no parents, no rules, no restrictions. Alcohol becomes the substitute parent guiding her actions and making her decisions. Power and authority have changed hands from parent to teen and then to alcohol. Until, finally, power falls in the hands of a third party, a bouncer or any similar sort of male. Girl finds herself in a dangerous situation where she succumbs to the actions that are led by the third party. She submits to these actions willingly due to her unstable state of mind influenced more by alcohol. Girl is pushed to do things she would not normally do under sober circumstances. She is completely taken advantage of.

Girl wakes up the next morning feeling shame, guilt, mental and physical pain and with a blur of memory of what had happened to her in that dodgy room in the club or any similar setting. Girl has been robbed of her innocence and her purity. She blames herself, for who else should she blame? She cannot speak of this to anyone, she is alone. Great start to the journey of adulthood. She did not put up a fight to prevent it, so it was her fault. Or was it? Submission is not equal to consent. It is rape. Girls are exposed to this danger every time they take a sip of Brutal Fruit, Smirnoff Storm, tequila, Apple Sours, you name it. The ignorance of the danger of the effects of alcohol in teens is becoming a problem and we as a society need to protect these young adults, especially at events such as a matric rage.

If you are a victim speak up, if you are a witness you also have a duty to speak up. Nothing is solved by brushing things under the carpet. Let’s resolve the problem rather than dissolve it. It could be your daughter or son next.

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