“Know that we do not tell our stories to restore ourselves. We do not tell them to compare scars. We tell our stories because now we can…We tell our stories to repave the path, because we are our sister’s keeper.”- Danielle Conibear
I am 6 and I remember.
I remember watching the movie; The God’s Must Be Crazy with siblings and an uncle.
I remember he always role played the ‘bushman’ in front of the whole family with me on his back. Piggyback.
I remember his two fingers would be in my vagina as he danced around.
I remember him pressing his hard penis on me when lights went out.
I remember confiding in a family member.
I remember reporting.
I remember nothing being done about it.
I remember resolving that it was ok. It was my fault.
I remember a couple of more years, same routine.
I am 16 and I remember.
I remember the first ‘serious’ boyfriend, first year at University.
I remember saying no again and again but knowing I was physically helpless.
I remember the pain of an intrusion into my vagina.
I remember being left there in the morning, feeling violated.
I remember hating my body. Screaming inside. The shame…god, the shame and the physical burden of it every day after that
I am 20 and I remember.
I remember his face.
I remember his office when I went to drop my CV.
I remember his hand on my thigh,
“We will work well together “.
I remember thinking; it will never end.
I remember seeing his hand on my thigh in my mind even after many baths.
I am 30 and I remember.
I remember everything so vividly.
I remember every time I get up in the middle of the night crying and screaming.
I remember seeking help from a pastor in my church, after all I grew up in church.
I remember being asked to forgive. Forgiveness.
I remember the words, “forgive them even if they aren’t sorry. It is for you. More importantly, God demands it. Also don’t question God. Obey.”
I remember feeling like vomiting.
I remember thinking something is wrong with me for feeling only disgust and not forgiveness.
I remember that I don’t owe forgiveness to my abusers.
I remember that ‘I survived although survival didn’t look like much.’
I remember to put down the burden of shame.
It is not mine.
By an African feminist who wishes to remain anonymous as they break the silence. Feature photo by UN Women