My sister and I grew up separately; that’s why we were so different. At age 13 I went to go live with my parents and that’s when I discovered who they really were. I came to know and understand that my mother was an aggressive and heartless woman. She was full of lies and abused me whenever the opportunity presented itself. My father on the other hand, was a kind, shy and intelligent man. He was a straight talker, an honest working man whom I admired and adored.

Before I went to go live with my parents and sister, I used to be happy and full of life. I was happy with them, but to an extent. I enjoyed our times together as a family but because they were so different from each other, they fought a lot. My emotions were torn between the two of them. I loved both of them but they made me feel that I had to choose a side whenever they fought or argued. I always chose my mom over my father, even at times when she was wrong.

The pain of sleepless nights, while my parents waged a war of their own within our home, was difficult to bear. I cried most of the time. But I knew that God had a plan. A couple of months later my parents separated. When my dad left his words to me were, “my child things will never be the same”. I was so young and naïve at the time that I didn’t understand what he meant.

After my parent’s separation, my dad and I continued to have a loving and understanding connection. I still stayed with my mother and younger sister, but communicated with my dad whenever I wanted to. My mom struggled to cope on her own after my dad left, being a single parent, she suffered from stress. I thought that she would feel better if she had someone to talk to. I gave her my shoulder to cry on.

With time, she slowly became her normal self again. Then a few weeks later she and my sister had a big argument which sent my mom off the deep end once more. It seemed like the end of our little family. By then I was 14-years-old and needed someone too; I had no friends, except my mother and sister. That’s when I started dating then my life went downhill from there.

One evening the guy I was dating came to fetch me, but I didn’t want to go with him. He then slapped my across my face, and threw me over his shoulder. I was stunned and disorientated that I couldn’t even scream. He took me to his house, locked the doors, beat me a little more and raped me. I loved him and couldn’t believe or accept that he did that to me. After he was finished he threw me out and told me to go home.

I told no one what he did to me; I told myself that I was a survivor. I knew what he had done to me and what that meant. I remembered the pain I felt and recalled every word he said while he defiled me. He left me feeling used and empty. I struggled to cope, to live a normal life. I turned to drugs to ease my pain and suffering, to help me forget.

I was tired, I’d been through so much in my young life. It was tough but eventually I picked myself up again. My mom was still alive but she had stopped living, she had given up on life. My younger sister encouraged me and listened whenever I wanted to talk about things that bothered me. Because of her, I had the belief to follow my dreams, to be what I wanted to be in this life.

You should not give up on your dreams or your aspiration to live a better life. Your life isn’t determined by the mistakes you make, but by how you handle the aftermath or fall out of those mistakes. I survived.