After my mother passed away in 2009, I lived with my stepfather and his son. I was 16 years old at the time and my stepbrother was 11.
Not long after my mother was buried, my stepfather started molesting me. I spoke to my aunts about this, but they didn’t believe me.
I was raped on a regular basis and it started affecting my schooling. I got through to Grade 12, however, “My stepfather raped me and gave me HIV” failed my final year and never went back to school.
One day, in 2012, my friends and I were passing a voluntary HIV testing and counselling station and I suggested we all get tested. To my shock, I was diagnosed HIV positive. I was broken but I pulled myself together and started ARV treatment.
During this time, I had a steady boyfriend and I fell pregnant with his child. The baby was ill and every time I asked my stepfather for money to go to the hospital, he raped me. Sadly, my baby passed on when he was 15 months.
The rapes continued until I was old enough to look for work. I ended up working for an NGO earning a stipend of R1 500. In 2016, I met a lady who used to work with my stepfather. He was her supervisor and she told me she’d also been raped by him on numerous occasions.
He threatened to get her fired if she didn’t do what he said. She discovered she was HIV positive after going for testing when she heard about my mom’s death.
In 2017, I finally met my biological dad, thanks to a friend of my mother’s who introduced us. He explained that he was married and he cheated on his wife with my mother.
After I was conceived, he decided not to pursue a relationship with us because he didn’t want to ruin his marriage. The same year, I met the man of my dreams at church.
We became friends before we started dating and I was so comfortable with him that I told him everything about my life. He told me he loved me and that he wanted to start a life with me. We now have a four-month- old baby and he has started the lobola process.
I’m now 26 years old, I’m happy and I know God can heal every pain. I’ve forgiven my stepfather. However, my stepbrother stopped talking to me when I told him about the rape. But I feel blessed to have a relationship with my biological father.
*Not her real name.