Trigger warning: sexual content
In my previous blog post I mentioned that I was a speaker at one of the South African Depression and Anxiety Group’s talks about Bipolar Awareness. I also mentioned that I was molested at a young age. I didn’t want to labour on the point, but I do believe it deserved a separate blogpost to highlight the important conversations around sexual abuse that need to happen.
My abuser was a family friend. Someone I trusted. Someone my parents trusted. He was supposed to look after myself and my sister for the day while my parents were at work. I can’t remember where the maid was.
I wrote about the actual scene in my memoir and at first I was reluctant to share it but I believe it’s a worthy share.
See excerpt below:
“The air was bitter cold and provided the setting for his warm, fat fingers to find their way to mine. With my fingers entwined in his, he straddled himself slowly while I watched. He towered over ,e in the purple and black one seater couch my parents had just bought for our home. I sat there, on the floor while my sister and innocently watched cartoons. He had my hand in his, pleasuring himself. I looked back to see a bulged shine through his sweat dark blue pants. His after shave smelt familiar and trusting, so I didn’t fear him when he placed his sausage-like index finger on his darkened smoker’s lips. “Shh,” he motioned me to keep this quiet, keep it sacred. He always smelt of smoke masked by cheap aftershave or aftershave masked by cheap cigarettes. By the age of 7, I couldn’t tell the difference.
I caught the white of his eyes wink at mine. I turned away his face, shy, not knowing what to do next. I was pleasuring him. I made him happy, I thought to myself. My eyes darted from my younger sister sitting barely a meter away. She watched the Teletubbies intently as I pleased him.
I sat there clouded by guilt and drowning in confusion. This didn’t feel right. Maybe it was in the way he shushed me, or maybe it was in the way his leather like skin felt against mine.
He paused and whispered,” Is it nice?” Did I lie? “Yes”, I answered softly. I didn’t want my innocence to hear me. And with that, he called my sister. My instinct jumped in and when she looked at me to see what the fuss was about, I sweetly told her it’s fine, she can watch TV. With no hesitation she turned her face, blind to the activities before her. She continued to watch her show. I looked up at his ugly brown eyes and shook my head to gesture for him to leave her out of it. He got the picture and continued. We sat there quietly while he pleasured his manhood and me proud that I saved her life.
He was a close family friend who used to tag along when his sister-in-law travelled around the country. The two of them would stay over at our home in the Free State, where we were isolated from family, friends and help. I remember praying with his sister-in-law, exploring the Islam religion with her, the warmth and inviting nature of the prayers still lingered with me while he caressed my cheek as he reached his climax.
Later that same day he created some games the three of us could play. These games were to be played under the covers, unfortunately. And I was scared as hell. After a five minute tickle session, he breathed heavily and asked, “Do you want more?” My heart raced a little faster. “Maybe your sister also wants to play.”
“No!” my innocence grew dim. Did I know what he meant? No, but I knew what he asked me left me feeling dirty, guilty and uneasy.
Milliseconds passed as the front door opened and his sister-in-law entered with a happy hello totally oblivious to the filthy games being played. My sister jumped up with excitement and rushed to greet her. He whispered his final goodbyes in my ear and I lay there, a frozen seven year scarred but saved from further sin. His words were heavy on my heart and haunted me from that day forward. He told me the usual lies that my family would break all ties with him if I had to tell them- and it would be my fault. He cornered me with guilt.
In my mind I scrambled for ways and reasons to tell my parents about this monster but I was left empty, and empty inside.
He took my innocence with him and left me with fear by my side.
That night, I lay in my bed, facing an open door; I waited for him to come back for more of me. While my eyes were adjusted to the darkness, I watched his room door across mine. I waited and waited, not giving in to sleep. My eyes burned from fear and insomnia. I lay there, not moving a muscle, waiting, not being able to process what had happened earlier that day. In the dark, confusion and guilt ate me alive. How could I sleep? Every one of his whispers, sat etched in my mind. I was overwhelmed by nausea at the sight of darkened lips and the smell of his smoky breath.
As I cried myself to sleep, images of a translucent Casper the friendly ghost appeared from my open door. He and his trio of ugly uncle ghosts chased one another around my room. They frolicked around the ceiling and sang songs from the movie.
How lucky was I to have them around when Sin was so close to being inside me.
Were they there to protect me? In my isolated mind, yes they were. They took me away from that swollen face and his half shaven beard, a roughness I hated from all the inappropriate greeting kisses. They flew across the room, round and round and entertained me for hours on end. Every so often, I’d glance back at his room door to check if he was sneaking towards me. Casper would make his way towards me and make me laugh just to settle my nerves. I didn’t sleep. I didn’t need sleep. I could be detached from the real world for protection. The real world became a dangerous place and isolating myself became the only option.
If I detached myself, nobody could hurt me, no one could penetrate my new world.
Unfortunately bed wetting and me nagging for a light to be left on became a frequent occurrence in my house, but nobody could understand my cries for help. ”
Copyright Yvette Hess 2016
Now I you’re thinking, “oh wow, did she have to share that?”
Yes. Yes, I did.
My reason is two fold. The first reason being simply that it is in my nature to share.
Two: abuse is one of those taboo subjects that are not spoken about enough. Those who know me are well aware that I speak up for those who cannot or who are afraid to share. This doesn’t make me weak. The fact that I was abused does not make me weak either, no does it make me “damaged goods”.
I remember being asked if I wanted to lay a charge against this man who violated me. All that was going through my mind was “I’m going to embarrass my family”; “it was probably my fault to begin with” and “I’ve let down my family”. I was seven years old and too afraid to be bold, to be strong, to put this man away so that he couldn’t hurt any more girls. Apparently, I wasn’t the first. That saddens me even more to this day. I hate that I couldn’t speak out. I hate that I wasn’t strong enough to fight him.
But not anymore. I’m speaking up about the scars he left me with.
Ps I’ve decided to continue writing my memoir. What do you think?
Keep flying. Keeping soaring.