I was seven years old when my biological parents broke up. I was an only child and had to live with my mother, according to their custody agreement. I remember every time I asked my mom about her relationship with my father, she would say my dad found a new woman.
I was still young but felt the pain of my father leaving and the pain of him starting a new family with someone else. Our lives were difficult. My mother was employed as a domestic worker but did not earn much. We received child maintenance from my father, but that too never felt like enough.
THE GOOD LIFE: A few years on, my mother met a new man. They were both single and ready to settle down.Soon, they were together every day, spending all their free time with each other. Nine months after meeting, they got married and immediately after, we moved into his house.
It was exciting. I was enrolled in a new school – a private school! Suddenly, I had new clothes and we even went on holidays. My mother also had lots of new, expensive clothes; weaves; and make-up. We were both spoilt as her new husband had a decent job.
HOW HE CHANGED: Soon after they got married, my stepdad would get mad at everything. He complained about how my mother “acted like a queen” and how my expensive my school fees were. One night, my mother went out with friends to escape from his drama.
I was in my bedroom when he sneaked up on me. At first, he pretended that he was checking up on me but after a few minutes he started touching me. I was uncomfortable but he made his move. He raped me. I tried to scream and run away but he was physically very strong.
The next morning, he gave me a lot of money and made me promise not to say a word. I was terrified and did not know what to do. I was 13 years old.
THE TRUTH: I become terrified all the time. One of my teachers at school must have noticed. She told the principal I did not seem okay and they called in my mother and asocial worker. I decided to tell them everything that happened to me.
My mother was so heartbroken and angry at the man she married. We opened a case with the police but, unfortunately, we lost because of my stepfather’s highly qualified lawyer. But at least I felt loved and special that my mother supported me.
MY FUTURE: My mother divorced him, and we moved into a new place. She continued with her domestic jobs to put food on the table and we never saw that monster again. I am now in Grade 12. I want to study and become a therapist.
I want to publish a book and start a campaign for women and children against abuse. My advice for girls and women who went through the same situation is take action. Keeping quite is never a good idea.