I think one of the hardest parts of my journey is that I am by nature an open soul. I wear my heart on my sleeve. This is not necessarily a bad trait, it is just that a lot of my lessons play out in public. Most of my ugly healing work I try to keep out the public eye, but every once in a while one of my demons attacks me in public, for all of black twitter to see.
A few months ago the newspapers reported that I relived my rape experience on Twitter. When the media started calling me, I turned off my phone for weeks. I got very defensive and literally screamed at some poor dude from Tru Fm. He later sent an email to apologise. I couldn’t even respond to him. I was in a deep and scary space. I felt attacked and lashed out at journalists. What the world did not know was that my Twitter Rape moment caught me off guard too. I had never owned up to being raped. It was a deep secret I kept buried away, so far away that I had chosen to forget it. One minute I was happily tweeting, and the next thing: words on my twitter updates going back to that night. I had no control in that moment, I have concluded that my secret just wanted out. A truth came out of me that even I was not ready for. The truth came out and it was splashed out in the media and I had to suck it in. Most importantly, I had to tell myself the truth about that night.
I have been doing my Masters Degree in the Arts at Rhodes University this year and my thesis is a memoir. This meant that I had to confront the events of that night and write my story. We are currently speaking about the subject of violence against women in our country and I think many women have stories to tell. Today I was talking about my rape on twitter and as usual not many people believe me. I have taken an excerpt from my thesis that tells my story. The only part that is not true is my one line at the end. I did not say that….I just wish I had. Here is my story, you may not believe me and it is hard for me to believe it myself. Here is my story, I am freeing myself from the shame and the pain. This rape no longer has any power over me. It happened. I survived. I am healthy and I am healing. I hope some sister who reads this blog will tell her story too and join me on this journey of healing. I am not hear to prove myself, I am here to heal.
(oh and I changed his name)
I closed my eyes and remembered: a dark night with me pinned up against the wall with a skinny dude, who was strong and aggressive, suffocating me. His whole arm was across my chest and his other hand dragged my short denim skirt up to my waist. My heart was in my mouth. I couldn’t kick him. I was trying to keep my legs closed. He held me up against the wall and I didn’t scream. I couldn’t believe what was happening. What was Siphiwe doing? Panic blazed in my chest. “I told you that I don’t want to have sex.” My soft voice whispered. “Wena uyisifebe sami.”
I felt ugly every time he called me that but I didn’t know how to tell him. He called me that every time we had sex. It made me feel like a “dirty” fuck. It wasn’t sex, I didn’t want it. It was scary and I couldn’t breathe. I shifted my body to get a bit of air. We were outside in the garden but no neighbours could see: no one to save me. I tried to push him off me but my “No” kept turning him on. His breath was heavy and fast. He smelt like soap. He pulled down his tracksuit pants and pried my legs apart. I hit the back of my head against the wall. He was stronger than I. I made it easier: I wasn’t wearing panties when he ripped inside of me. He “won.” Breathlessly he thrust into me, his “locs” [dreadlocks] hit my face. My arms limp at my sides as I looked over his shoulder into the dark garden, his arm still across my chest. We were outside. I should have screamed. During that “round,” I didn’t fight him off. He was too heavy. My eyes couldn’t meet his.
When he was “done” he backed off to attend to his weapon. He didn’t wear a condom. My heart sank. I pulled my skirt as far down as I could. I walked inside the house with a straight back and my nose turned up. I sat on the couch and watched TV like nothing had happened. When he walked in he tied his “locs” into a ponytail and went to the bathroom. My mind was confused. My eyes watched the screen but my mind was confused. I wasn’t sure what had just happened? Was that just rough sex? Why didn’t I fight harder? Why didn’t I scream? I was so relieved when I heard laughing voices entering the house, Siphiwe’s friend were back and he reappeared.
Wayne and the others had gone out to get a few things from the shop. They did not know what had happened. We were all going to a birthday party that night but Siphiwe turned to me and said he had decided to change the plans and take me home early. HE had decided? HE had decided yet again what I wanted. I remained silent and fetched my bag. We all walked out the house, his friends still laughing and talking loudly. They discussed which car to use. I walked alone behind Siphiwe towards his car breathing sparks with every step I took. When we both got near his car, I blew with all my might. I thundered at Siphiwe and screamed with my fists. I kept punching his face, his stomach, anywhere I could. I had never ever been in a fight before; he covered his face with the same arms he used on me. I thought I heard shouting, I kept punching. Next thing I was lifted off the ground, arms were around my stomach. Wayne pulled me off Siphiwe, but I was still trying to grab at him. It took three of them to stand in front of me, to keep me in my corner, they kept telling me to calm down. Three men blocked me and the others were around Siphiwe asking him if he was “ok”, every now and then they glared across at me. They all thought I was crazy and I was screaming:
“This motherfucker just raped me!”
I opened my eyes again. It is not something I like to think about.
– NONTSIKELELO MAZWAI, HOMECOMING