These were the words of a 2nd World War Veteran that I read in a novel a few days ago. They had a profound effect on me.
Today is my birthday, 8 February 2013. I am 58 years old. I am of that “fooling about” era.
Radio 702 is sounding a horrific bleep every 4 minutes to signify the moment that a woman is raped in South Africa.
One in three women in South Africa will be raped at sometime during their life. This means that one third of women have the badge already ...... or will do before they die.
In those days “fooling around” was acceptable and accepted by polite society. This attitude is why so many people are only speaking about their abuse many years later.
It is precisely because of this veil of secrecy that this abuse has been allowed to continue unabated.
When you are abused it destroys your life and those around you.
You may not become an abuser yourself but you accept abuse as the norm and frequently cover it up to protect those that you love.
You allow people to walk over you, bully you; hurt you; manipulate you whether it is at home, at school, at church or in the workplace. You have no sense of self worth. “If I let someone have their way with me, they are paying me attention and they must therefore like me.” There are no boundaries.
In South Africa it is so easy to blame culture, drugs, alcohol, unemployment, apartheid etc for our horrific crime and abuse statistics. Yet the same abuse has been going for generations in “nice middle and upper class” families, the church; our schools whether elite or state.
The more money you have, the harder you have to work at covering it up to maintain your place in society. You also have the means to make "the problem" go away.
Women being the “fairer (weaker) sex” get most publicity especially when the abuse is sexual. Boys and Men are also sexually abused and it is no less difficult for them. It is so often their role models who let them down.
What about all the other forms of abuse that each of us (yes me included) is guilty of?• We smack our children to teach them a lesson. What lesson? That they must not hurt others???• We humiliate our spouses by belittling them. What is the message we are sending to our children?• Principals and Teachers who allow bullying and encourage initiation by seniors to keep the younger children in line.• Principals and Teachers who still use corporate punishment or humiliation as a way of regulating behaviour.• We judge others and make assumptions without knowing the background. Our religion or beliefs supposedly gives us this right.• We treat our staff and fellow workers with disrespect. • We drink and drive and endanger our own lives and those of others.• We tacitly support corruption when we turn a blind eye.
They say sticks and stones may break your bones and words may never harm. What a load of hogwash!
Internal scars never heal.
So what is my birthday wish?
My wish is that every single person who reads this article makes a commitment to re-evaluating how they treat loved ones, friends and strangers.
This is not about women and children.
What legacy do you want to leave?
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