I was a young, ambitious girl until the worst happened to me, until they turned on me, and he took away my liberty. I am Uhlelinami and this is my story.

I grew up in a small town. I lived with both my mother and father and I was an only child. People adored me everywhere because I was friendly and they all melted when I smiled. I had everything a girl could ever pray for but I never took it for granted. Yes, I was up but I didn’t look down on anyone. So why did this happen to me?

It all started when I was sixteen. My parents got divorced, all because of my father’s cheating ways. And not to mention how he used to beat my mother up when he got drunk. But on the outside life looked cosy and people envied us. I had to smile when I was in pain and suddenly what I had didn’t matter compared to everything else.

When my mother left him he forced me to stay behind. I didn’t want to and my mother had no choice but to leave me behind. He said he would end me if she didn’t leave without me so I was left behind in hell. He was my father but he didn’t care about me. He always used to say that every day.

Why couldn’t she take me with? Why didn’t she turn around? I know she was scared but still, to leave me with a monster!

After she left the emotional abuse continued and it progressed to something worse. He raped me. Because he loved me, he said, he raped me, his own daughter, and told me not to tell a soul. I carried the shame, the guilt, thinking it was my fault. Why me?

I thought I had real friends, only to find out that when it counts they were nowhere around. They were just in it for the perks. “Oh girl there’s a party and I don’t have money but you do, so let’s go party.” It’s true that when there is no light in my days the will be less friends trying to remove me from darkness. I tried to tell them about what had happened. Guess what my so called friend Mandisa said. “You’re overreacting. That’s crazy. You are crazy to think that. You can’t be serious!”

Strange that this happens every day in this world but no one is talking. I thought they would have my back but they called me mentally ill for speaking the truth and asking for help.

Even when I was vomiting and fainting no one cared. I was pregnant because my dirty father didn’t use a condom. Nobody wanted to help me, they said I was wild in my imagination. How can I imagine something so cynical? They told me at the clinic when I went there to abort this shameful thing of mine, instead of offering me help. They told me to get out and never come back because I was a disgrace.

My mother, she too said that’s the last thing he would ever do to me. “He loves you,” she said. My own mother didn’t believe me. He did say if I ever told it would be his word against mine and so he won.

I went to the police deciding I have heard enough. I was tired. I didn’t want to abort my child even though they called her names. The police offered me help. With my big belly showing and tears never seeming to end, the policeman said that a lot of these cases go unreported. But the fact that I came forward would help other people. I had broken the silence. It made feel safe again even though I was being called many names of shame. I was called a liar, how can I betray my own flesh? They asked.

How could he take something so precious when he was supposed to protect me, guide me, and not mistreat me misuse me? I was angry. I was disappointed but mostly ashamed to even talk about this ordeal because it was unspeakable.

He got arrested and pleaded not guilty. But the law was on my side. I had all sorts of proof that nobody knew I did because I wanted him behind bars.

Funny thing is, I never got to ask him why he did me wrong. But all is well because I got the help I needed. I’m doing much better now but no one can make me understand why. I’m raising my child with my husband. It has been thirty years since it all happened. I have achieved all that I wanted to achieve.

I’m close with my mother but sadly my friend Mandisa was never able to forgive herself, she didn’t make it to my friend list.