Collateral Beauty.

Collateral Beauty.

It was May 2015, I do not remember whether it was the 20th or the 27th, I just know that is was on a Wednesday. Pretoria was hot that day, even though it was the beginning of winter, all I remember about the day was that nothing was going my way, the details are all still blurry… I guess I tried so hard to flush out the memory that I partially succeeded. I was in town and I left a bit late, since it was Wednesday it meant I had a cell group meeting that afternoon at 6pm- I decided to get off where we have our meetings instead of going home first. The meetings are between 6pm – 7pm, I am not sure what time we left but it was after 7pm, the weather had changed by then. The meetings were held at a different section from mine because we didn’t have enough members in our section to start our own group, so there were usually two of us attending the meetings from my section I was with a brother from church, we’ll call him Henry. Henry and I said our goodbyes after the meeting and left, we didn’t stay far so we walked. It was during winter so you know how dark it is by 7pm. We were walking and arguing like always, Henry and I hardly ever saw eye to eye on anything, we literally argued about everything; it was weirder for us to agree on anything than it was to disagree and everyone was now used to it. There is a bridge that divides these two sections and on the sides of the bridge were human sized thick weeds, everyone knew how unsafe crossing that bridge by foot at night was, but we were so used to walking there that at times we’d even have our phones in our hands and have loud conversations, we hardly bumped into people at that time of the night on the bridge. On this particular day though we had company, as we were about to reach the end of the bridge two guys appeared in front of us, we were not alarmed. They came from the direction of a shortcut that everyone knows not to use at night when I think about it now, that should’ve been a warning sign. They appeared to be innocent passers-by since they walked straight past us – well, that was until Henry decided to look back and he started running. It is human nature to start running when you see someone else running especially with us blacks LOL, Caucasians want to investigate first, but we don’t even look back. When asked why he ran, he said that when he looked back he saw a gun and his first instinct was to run. When I saw him running I immediately knew that something was wrong and as I was about to run one of guys had already grabbed my bag and the other one was now in front of me, I saw the gun and I froze.

Let me give you a quick description of these guys, the one who was in front of me was my height which automatically qualifies him as short, he was dark and well built not skinny not fat (nor chubby) and he was carrying the gun. The one who grabbed my bag was tall, dark and skinny, he looked sick (which was later confirmed to be true), he was rougher than his short friend, he had red eyes, he was wearing a cap and he didn’t have a jersey as cold as it was; he was carrying a panga knife (those long knives they use to cut grass). They demanded my money and cell phone, I told them everything is in my bag, I was carrying a yellow Adidas backpack and mind you my phone was in my hands. I was using the first Huawei small phones we had in SA so they didn’t see it, they took my bag and they ran towards the other side of the bridge. Now in that moment I was shaking and my body went cold but my head was just heating up, in simple terms, disoriented. In that dizzy moment and being scared for my life, I just wanted to see myself home, which resulted in me making the worst decision of my life. Instead of running towards the direction that Henry took (which was the main road), I took the shot cut that they came from… remember the weeds. I started running, but my brain kept on heating up, the sides beating louder than the drums played during a ritual, my knees being weak, I couldn’t run anymore, I thought I’d faint. I started feeling faint and I started walking in a hurry instead, I looked back and I saw a figure approaching me. Given the current emotional state I was in and having eye sight problems, my vision was blurred I think that was also caused by the tears that were forming. It looked like there was fog all around me which made the figure look angel-like. I continued walking fast, not minding the figure actually my brain hadn’t even comprehended that there was someone approaching me; only when I looked back the third time did I realize that it was the tall guy with the panga knife. It was too late for me to run because he was already 5 steps further than I was, he grabbed me by my ponytail and dragged me to the darkest part. I assumed that he realized that my phone wasn’t in the bag and he wanted it, that was until he told me that he wants sex.

When he said those words I almost laughed because this is a joke right? Like Leon Schuster will appear somewhere in the grass with his hidden cameras and shout, “you’ve been schuks” then we’ll all laugh about it and go home. Realization quickly set in that there are no hidden cameras and that someone is about to force himself on me- even though I was aware of the present situation, my mind refused to label it; I was not about to be a statistic. I felt my throat heat up and I struggled to breath, it felt like there was a ball shoved down my throat, I wanted to cry but I was not about to give him that pleasure. I kept on saying “God no no no no”, and he told me to shut up. He pulled me a part that looked like a hole but it wasn’t deep enough that you couldn’t walk in, pulled me down by my hair and he kneeled down in front of me, ironically that’s one position I always found to be the most sincere and strongest. A man on his knees as society perceives it, is a man who’s about to confess his sins and pour out his heart’s desires to God- pray for me while you’re at it would you. I started pouring my own heart out to God- on my back and not knees, I made the sincerest prayer in my whole life, I do not remember the words but I remember the vulnerability I felt. If you thought King David really poured out his heart when writing the Psalms, then you have never heard the prayer of a woman on her back at the mercy of man with a heart made of steel and hands covered with blood; his breath smelled like death and I realized there and then that God wasn’t going to descend anytime soon. Desperation hit and I told the guy I was on my periods, the male species is disgusted by the thought of blood pouring out of a woman’s vagina right? But thinking of the number of woman that have bled in his arms, what are periods to him? He said he’ll see for himself (unfortunately I wasn’t). He paid no mind to my lies and continued to take off my shoes and pants. Then suddenly he got up and looked around like he heard something, I had a glimmer of hope, I honestly thought someone was coming- either for me or it was a passer-by and I was going to be rescued. I sat in silence, my ears searching for a sound of footsteps but instead I was welcomed by his heavy breathing and my pounding heart. He started panicking and felt unsafe, he pulled me up and dragged me towards a river that was close to where we were, he ripped off my panty and he got on top of me, my whole body went tense. He tried to penetrate but the walls were in self-defense mode and that pissed him off, he shouted at me to open up but my brain and body were not in agreement. I wanted to get this over and done with but my walls were not having it. Eventually he encroached and had his way with me, with every thrust I found myself sinking deeper into the earth. Everything still seemed so surreal, while everything was happening I was having a conversation with God in my mind. I was facing the sky so I pictured Him sitting in His throne of glory, high and mighty with His angels surrounding Him and He just watched while this man brutalized me, “did you not say that the devil could have his way with Job but not touch his soul? Yet You let a man touch my soul, he ripped it out. I lost my being” The deeper I sunk, the further He became; this became our relationship for the longest time after the incident, He just became a distant figure in my life that had His own ‘special people’. I lost every bit of strength and hope I had inside me and prepared myself for whatever will come after this- I expected death, this already felt like death either way, what’s the worst that could happen after this.

I looked on my left side and saw the panga knife laying there, I was about to grab on it until I realized that he had it tied around his wrist and grabbing it decreased my chances of survival yes I still had hope that I’ll go home after this, I think that’s one of the most absurd traits of the human behavior, even in deadly situations you still see life. I don’t know how long he took because I zoned out, I just heard the sound of a man who had just released all the frustrations inside of him and I found myself relax a little as I knew it was over. What now? I wondered to myself, he looked around and made sure he was still safe then told me that if I ever came after him he’d kill me, I looked him straight in the eye, I am one person who finds it hard to look someone straight in the eye but I guess the fact that he had just ripped out my soul made it easier for me to stare inside my ‘soul bearer’. I saw death, his eyes were red but at that moment I think I saw the pit of hell, I saw souls screaming inside of him and I knew he had no problem with killing anyone. He lay next to me, relaxed and I put on my clothes, he told me to lay low and I did. I am not sure how long we lay there but it felt longer than it probably was. Funny because when you picture two people who just had sexual intercourse, laying under the stars, side by side gives you a romantic picture right? “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, I could never find beauty in this picture.

He asked me where he could find taxis this time of the night to Diepsloot and I told him where but I wasn’t sure if they were still available that time of the night. He started shivering and I don’t know why but I took off my jersey, my bloody favourite navy blue fleece jersey and I gave him since he was feeling cold- bastard didn’t even say thank you. I asked him why he does what he does and he told me that he has no place to stay, during the day he sleeps wherever he’d find a place and at night they go around terrorising people just so they can have something to eat the following day. After he said this he got up, told me not to move until he crossed the river and he sped off, I didn’t even wait for him to cross that God forsaken river; the moment he turned his back I ran for my life. The place had so many ditches, I remember every time I tried to run I would fall into one but I would continue running like nothing happened; when I look at the ditches today I still ask myself how I managed to run through them. I ran and eventually I saw the road and in the distance I saw my father’s car, the neighbour’s car and a police van passing; they almost missed me by a second. I ran straight to my mother and I started crying, that was my first and last time crying about the incident.

I was put at the back of the police van and the police ordered my father and the neighbour to go look for the guys while they take me to the police station; what nonsense. I was with my mother at the back of the van and she just wrapped me around her arms crying. We got to the police station and I ‘had to’ write a statement, I was taken to the kitchen with a female officer. I didn’t want to talk to anyone, I just wanted to be home, drink coffee and sleep- I love coffee, but no they told me it’s a must. I told her what happened and she told me I had to go in detail, when I told her he took off my panty she’d ask, “How did he take it off?” Did he rip it off or did you take it off? Now remember this, this whole incident happened a few minutes ago, I was traumatized and you’re forcing me to relive the whole experience again… I didn’t want to talk about it, I didn’t want to be here. Being questioned in that police station felt so wrong, it was wrong because it made everything a reality, the whole talk about the court and writing statements made me a statistic… I didn’t want that. The lady became agitated and started shouting at me, she told me that my case will be useless if I don’t give her the information she needed, I wanted it to be useless so I stopped talking. She walked out and told my mother that her ‘stubborn’ daughter refuses to talk and that she doesn’t have time for this. How in the world can a woman be so insensitive about rape, no I do not expect you to understand but where is the sympathy. It is always said that women are born with motherly instincts but experience has taught me otherwise, I hated that officer, actually it’s not her that I hated, I hated that she made me feel like I just witnessed a robbery and they needed their evidence to look like they actually do their work. My mother had called almost everyone, that pissed me off to the last bit because I’m a very private person, I hate people knowing my business and being in my space unless I let them- it felt like I had my privacy invaded twice that night when I saw her church mates at the police station. She sent her pastor to come convince me to give the police what they want, the place was now getting too crowded for me so I decided to give them whatever they wanted so I could get the hell out of there and go have coffee and sleep. We finished writing the statement and the detective who was on duty took me to the clinic, I forgot his name because well I haven’t spoken to him since 2015. We got to the clinic and I was invaded again, the whole process of having to take off my clothes again and open my legs so that the doctor can examine me, my blood was also taken in for testing. This guy did not only rape me but he forced me to undergo all of this- I hate hospitals, doctors, needles, blood, this guy kept on making my night worse and worse. I was given anti-viruses to take and I was also scheduled for counselling, oh I hate therapy as well. Remember earlier I mentioned the guy was actually sick? Well I found out he had some sort of STI, I forgot the name, and to be honest I didn’t care at the time: the antibiotics were to assist my body to reject the STI and other undetected viruses he could have. We did everything and it was now time to go home, remember earlier how I spoke about wanting to be home and having coffee? I should be excited right? No. The moment it dawned on me that I had to go back to the very same place where everything happened felt like torture, it was like being asked to relive the experience, I couldn’t go. I told my mother that I’m not going back home and she asked me where will I sleep, I didn’t care, I could sleep at that bench that I was sitting on if I had to but I was not going back. My mother decided to call my pastor and told her that I wouldn’t leave, honestly speaking when I heard that she was talking to my pastor I got excited because I thought she’d offer me a place to sleep; she didn’t, she told me to go home and we’ll talk tomorrow and that was it. I wanted to cry, I wanted to roll on the floor and just scream my lungs out if I could. I was so hurt, to be honest it still hurts today when I think about it, I felt deserted, nobody cared that I just got raped. I went home feeling more defeated than I was when I walked in the hospital and I slept, I didn’t even have that bloody coffee, I just slept.

I didn’t want to talk to anyone after that, I locked myself in the room the whole day. I hardly ate and I slept a lot. Visitors came to see me, I didn’t want to see them. I remember one visitor who came to see me and I was glad to see her, she’s the only one I spoke to during the period, we were close friends then and even thinking about that day still brings a smile to my face today. Busisiwe Mabena, we are still friends but not as close as before and I’ll forever be grateful for her being there for me, she brought me an orange and it felt like the best gift; I don’t know why but I guess it was never about the orange but about the person who brought it. Her aura was just warm and full of love, it still is… I laughed for the first time after so long.

As time went on, I tried my best to stop thinking about that night, it didn’t take much because of the drama I found myself in a few weeks after. I found myself in the midst of church politics. Coming from a family that’s already broken, I had no support… I needed to feel loved and protected and I expected to get that from church but instead I was side lined because of rumours. My stepfather was there for me but he’s a man who shows no emotion, affection Is not his thing and I knew that; I knew he was trying his best, I thought I’d get the affection and protection from my Bishop but he chose to focus on the rumours. I may not know his feelings and intentions back then on the whole matter but I honestly expected more from a supposed “father figure”- I guess the mistake I made was to ignore the instructions of God that never put your trust on a man. My biological father never contacted me, I thought he was not aware, I found out nearly a year later that he knew all along. All these things broke me, I needed to feel the protection and affection of a father, I couldn’t even feel the presence of God, it felt like He was the first father figure to desert me and the others followed. I’ve never felt so alone in my life. I couldn’t find affection from my mother because she made the rape about her and my spiritual mother (one of the junior pastors) was also in the midst of the whole drama, I trusted no one. In case you’re wondering why support from the church meant so much to me was because my childhood years I spent taking care of my siblings because my mother had her own issues to deal with, going to church made me feel like a child again, I found refuge from my reality and I had ‘parents’ I could bother, for once I had people to take care of me, for a short while that is.

Everything happened so fast all in one year, I had more suicidal thoughts during those few months left in 2015 than I did my entire life. When December came it became worse and I thought it was the end, I would kill myself. Fortunately enough I was given a chance to attend a youth camp- Youth Link where I met Mama Aggie and for the first time in months I spoke to someone, I opened up about my rape and everything else going on in church and we just spoke, it was a normal conversation and it was very therapeutic. The camp lasted for 5 days and I had to go back home, I was doing well for the first few weeks after that, the mistake I made was to think that 5 days of camp could cure depression. Nearly a year after the incident I went into a frenzy, I had a total breakdown and I needed to numb the pain. That’s one of the least proud moments of my life, but I needed the experience.

In late 2016 my vagina started getting itchy, it would burn when I peed and I had this white, thick discharge on my underwear every time; I thought I had an STI. I didn’t want to tell anyone but it got worse so I had to seek guidance. I told my pastor (yes the one mentioned earlier), she advised me to seek medical help and gave me transport money- because well I was down and out in every way possible. I went to the clinic and found a male doctor, I thought of running out. He seemed like a nice guy, but is there such a thing as a nice guy? I didn’t care whether he was a professional or not, fact remained that he’s a man and what made it worse was where the actual problem was at that moment- my vagina. I was not about to have another man have his way with me, why does this keep on happening? As I was about to walk out, something told me to sit and listen to what he has to say first; honestly the thought of being alone in a room with this man, or any man for that matter left me feeling uneasy. I sat down either way, he asked me what was wrong and I told him, guess what? There was no need for him to check anything, I think he must’ve noticed my whole body relax because I was literally like a shell. He told me I had a vaginal yeast infection. What? Please not an STI, but I had antibiotics for this, I almost cried. Well it turned out that it is not an STI but a type of fungi, it is a result of an increase in the fungi on your vagina I could not find a clearer definition. Turns out it can also occur on women who aren’t sexually active and is caused by a number of factors, mine was caused by those bloody antibiotics that were supposedly my ‘saviors’. Some of the symptoms include: a discharge that is typically thick, odorless and whitish-grey in color, intense itching of the vaginal or genital area, irritation and burning, pain during sexual intercourse, pain or burning during urination and redness, irritation, or soreness of the vaginal or vulva in woman; swelling of the vaginal (Doctor Google). Each day I felt like I had to relive the night because I constantly had to deal with issues that were birthed that night, looks like there was a seed that no medication could counter effect after all.

It took me two years to realize that healing will only come from me accepting what happened and not being ashamed about it. I wore the rape every day, I let it define me, I let him define me. I saw him in every guy I met, I judged every situation based on that night… everything was just about that night. My whole life, my entire existence was changed and defined by one evening, actually it was defined by 30 minutes, a lousy 30 minutes because I don’t believe I was there longer than that. I could not speak about the rape, just saying that I was raped felt like me admitting to being weak, damaged, broken, unworthy, and useless. I could never tell anyone because I was afraid of how they’d look at me. One day I had an epiphany, it hit me so hard I literally felt my whole brain shift, I realised that I had no reason to be ashamed, I did nothing wrong and I’m still the same girl that I was before I was dragged into those woods; just a little older and wiser. I refused to let an action taken by someone else define who I am, I refused to have 30 minutes change my entire existence and perspective on life, I couldn’t let the evil hearts of men destroy my relationship with God. It was never an easy process and I do not believe that one fully recovers from rape but one can be amended, yes the scars will always be there but they do not define who I am; they serve as a testimony and a witness to my statement when I say I’m a bloody warrior. I am a queen and my crown may tilt but it will never fall off.

22 Replies to “Collateral Beauty.”

  1. Wow… This just literally brought tears to my eyes. My dear lady you are strong & for you to open up about something so personal just shows how brave you are. I pray that you heal, find peace & remain a beautiful soul that you are despite any adversities you may face in this messed up world. Wow…😢

  2. Yoh!!! You went through a terrible ordeal with someone who was sick even! Could have turned worse! But I like how you actually came to terms with the fact that what he did to you wasn’t your fault. And firm thereon you saw yourself again in the mirror. You are a soldier! A warrior! Those scars may not fade but may they not kill you. I wish you love and light upon your life… May you find happiness within and outside. ❤

  3. The part about you giving him your jacket because he was cold & he simply took it, kind of summarizes it for me. I wasn’t raped but I have had my soul molested by a man.
    I am glad you found your way back to God. I’m still in the process.
    Please don’t ever stop writing. Sending you healing light and love 💐

  4. Wow! This world we live in is full of sick people! Hardest part is not being infected my their negativity. You are one brave human being and I commend u for having made it this far, I belive greatness will follow u.

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