Shame. Guilt. Remorse and regret. These are just a few of the emotions a sexually assaulted victim experiences. The shame of being in that position. The guilt of feeling like it’s your fault. The remorse and the regret of everything.

I was 19, young and naïve when I met the very experienced good looking, playboy musician. I had absolutely no experience with men or boys at all. He knew that very well and he exposed me to so many things I don’t think I could ever erase from my memory. That innocent girl, forever changed. He was 7 years older and way ahead of me. I got to know him for months and he gained my trust. Little did I know, I was in for the worst nightmare of my life.

One afternoon in December, that musician with beautiful hazel eyes took the one thing I had hoped to save – he never asked for it, he simply took it. Yes, I was raped. Raped at 19 by the one person I thought wouldn’t do that.

I instantly cried. I instantly thought it was my fault. I blamed myself for months and I felt deep regret and remorse for being in that position. I never told anyone about it. How do I start? I didn’t even know it was wrong to begin with, because he was someone I was seeing. How could it be rape, I thought. But it was, because I was tiny, he was stronger, I said no, he said please and I …gave in. It was rape, because it was done without my consent. Six years later, I can tell you, I’ve healed from that experience.

Firstly, let me be clear with you: THE MOMENT YOU SAY NO AND HE DOESN’T GO, IT’S RAPE. It is considered rape or sexual assault whenever you did not consent.

This goes as far as saying anything that makes you feel uncomfortable sexually is an assault. A friend shared with me that she was kissing her then boyfriend and things got heated, he wanted more but she stopped him, he then began fighting her for more, she spent 30 minutes fighting him off, luckily her cousin came in time and he suddenly acted as if nothing had happened. This, my friends, is what you call a potential rapist. She was in a very dangerous position, the scariest part is that it was someone she trusted! This happens way too often, please sis, if your significant other is forceful in any way at all, run for the hills!

What is rape?

According to rape is defined as “unlawful sexual intercourse or any other sexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim.”
Rape is a serious crime of violence and domination in which one person forces or manipulates another person to have sex. The most common types are:

Date rape – this is forced sex within a dating relationship, in other words someone you are in a relationship with. Nearly two-thirds of all victims ages 18 to 29 report a prior relationship with their attacker.
Date rape drugs or alcohol – Alcohol is the No. 1 drug used in sexual assaults, and on college campuses, alcohol is a factor in 90 percent of rapes.
Statutory rape is sexual intercourse between a person who is under the age of 16 and a person who is 3 or more years older, with or without consent.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is any unwanted sexual behaviour or pressure that embarrasses, humiliates or intimidates an individual. Sexual harassment can be physical, verbal and non-verbal and visual, such as staring or gestures that are suggestive or sexual.

What are the signs of rape or sexual assault?

We’re going to look at some of the signs of sexual assault:
– Unwanted touching
– Actual physical rape
– Forcing or manipulating you into doing unwanted, painful or degrading acts
– Taking advantage of you when you’re not sober or in your right mind
– Saying no to contraception or protection
– Taking any kind of pictures or recording you during sex without your permission, this includes forcing you to perform in front of a camera or for money
– Threatening to leave you or break up with you if you don’t give them sex

How can you help a victim?

If someone opens up to you about being sexually assaulted, it is a very brave and bold step because often victims tend to shy away and feel too guilty to speak up. It is important that you be that support system that they need.

– Believe what they are saying, without passing judgement.
– Reassure them that it is NOT their fault. It is important NOT to ask questions like, “why were you there” etc. this will automatically put the blame on the victim.
– Be a good listener, let them know you are there for them, when they do not want to talk about it fully, give them the time they need to open up.
– Do not suggest that the victim/survivor “move on” with their life and forget about the rape. The victim/survivor needs the opportunity to work through the trauma of the assault and begin the healing process.

If you have been a victim of sexual violation, please do not feel ashamed. It is NOT your fault. It can happen to anyone: men, women and children of all ages. It is your choice to report this to the police or not. Should you report it, you can save the next person who the attacker might target. If you are being sexually assaulted at school or work, report it to the school principal and HR, always talk to someone you trust, if that person does not believe you, tell someone else, but do not keep it to yourself. Your healing is important.

Stay safe out there, sis!

Tell us: How can you help someone who has been sexually assulted?

Read about dealing with insecurity here.

For professional help and counselling call one of these numbers:

Childline: You may call the Helpline 24X7 on 116 (Free from all networks) OR you can visit the Online Counselling chatrooms (a D/deaf Friendly Service) Monday-Friday, 11am-1pm & 2-6pm to chat to a counsellor

Lifeline: 0861 322 322
Rape Crisis: 021 447 9762
SADAG (The South African Depression and Anxiety Group) 0800567567