Landisa: My grandmother's boyfriend sexually assaulted me when I was two. It changed me forever

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I grew up in a very Christian household; it was quite strict. When I was about two years old my parents left me with my grandmother and her boyfriend for the afternoon. When they got home, they found that he had sexually assaulted me. I didn’t know about it until much later in my life when my grandmother wanted to come back into our lives and I overheard my parents telling her that they’ll never let her back into our lives after that. 

Skip ahead a few years to my primary school years. I’ve always struggled with the way I look and how people see me – the most difficult part was being in school. Before class, we used to line up in front of the classroom until the teacher allowed us in. While we waited, a group of boys would line us up from prettiest to ugliest. I had bad teeth, and because my parents were strict, I didn’t shave my legs until Grade 8. I was chubby, and I didn’t fit in well with anyone. I was always either second last or last in the prettiest to the ugliest lineup. 

After a while, I would hide in the bathroom and get scolded by the teacher for being late, but it felt better than being called ugly.

In Grade 9, we moved from Johannesburg to a small town in Cape Town. My braces came off, I lost a lot of weight and I started getting a lot of attention from boys. I would lie if I said it didn’t feel good. I didn’t want the attention to stop, so to keep them staring and paying attention I started pulling up my dresses, wearing shorter shorts, and keeping my body “in shape”. I used to flirt with anyone willing to give me that attention. I started getting paranoid when I picked up a kilogram or if I saw a roll on my tummy. (I weighed 49kg in matric.)

That lead to exercising at the local primary school’s rugby field until late at night. I would eat as little as possible, or I would eat and feel the food turning into fat so I would go throw up as soon as I could. I used to visit a friend often at his house after school and we would watch Glee and he always fed me so much (sometimes I felt he knew) but I couldn’t go back to the girl last in the line.

I used to get into fights with girls because I would draw attention to myself. My best friend wouldn’t stand up for me when people spoke behind my back, because she would accuse me of flirting with someone she liked – even though I wouldn’t do that. I still struggle with the way I looked and what people thought of me, and I would go into this deep depression where I would smile and act happy, but I would hate everything about me. I would never want to go out. 

In previous relationships, I used to cheat just so that I would feel pretty and wanted. I wanted that affirmation from someone other than my boyfriend just so I could feel good about myself. 

I know everyone will say that self love starts with yourself, but I’ve never actually seen myself as pretty because I still feel like that girl last in line.

Today, I still struggle with the way I look and most of the time I associate love with sex. I’ve only recently found that writing down my past and the way you felt, your present, and the way you want to feel in the future helps me deal with my insecurities.

I am my mind, my heart, my thoughts, my strengths and my weaknesses. What is seen as my weaknesses doesn't make me weak.

* A pseudonym was used to protect the identity of the author.

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