“I need you!” her heart screamed.
“I’m dying, I need help!” it cried out.
But it went unheard, drowned by other voices;
“My husband is a monster; he hit me every chance he got.” one said.
“My parents don’t want anything to do with me and the man who impregnated me denied it…” another lamented.
It hurt her that those voices were considered before hers, but she could still understand. She was hurt, not apathetic.
“I cannot comprehend how I and my parents do not get along, my parents don’t understand me.”
Those voices she could never understand, not when she was still with her parents. She did not get along with them more than half of the time and she sure did not understand how they could not see she was drowning, but she was still in the house.
Her parents were both lawyers, human rights activists, and for some reason, they dealt with youths and women. This probably explains why there was always someone in the house who needed help more than their own children.
It amazed her for years that she was her mother’s first born and they were not close. All her friends in school were close to their mums.
And she probably would have gotten past it if she didn’t see the way her mum was with others.
Others were more important than she and her brother, that was how she saw it.
She was about seven when the abuse started. And yes, it started right under her mother’s nose, with one of her wounded guests.
Then, they grew in number.
Some of them gave her gifts, some threatened her with the death of her parents.
She wasn’t close to her parents, but she definitely didn’t want them to die.
By the time she was twelve, it became a norm. For years, she couldn’t explain what these men did to her. She just knew they were touching her and somehow, she knew it was wrong. But she also knew she was sworn to secrecy.
When she was fifteen and finally raped, she didn’t even struggle. It was normal.
These men liked to touch her and so they were free. Her mum didn’t see the hurt in her eyes so why should she even care? She just felt it was too late to do anything besides to let it continue.
She was already destroyed, or so she thought.
It took her about ten years to finally begin to heal and know that she was not a piece of property to be used by men. It took her close to a decade to understand that she could pick herself up again and fight for her future.
She still didn’t tell her parents.
Somehow, she dealt with it herself. As far as she was concerned, they lost their chance. They weren’t there when she needed them.
Oh, how she cried for her mum those nights when strange men would come to her bed to violate her!
How she screamed for her dad when they cornered her after school and stole away her childhood!
How she longed for their soothing words when she became sexually dysfunctional. Oh, how she wanted to just be a child and not have to deal with it!
She came out stronger from it. She could imagine many who didn’t. She could imagine many children like her who are screaming silently, children who have been substituted for cares of life, children who have been traded for just causes.
The first ministry of parents is their children. Children are crying because many of them are victims of pedophiia and child sexual assault. When are we going to heed their cries?
This post was originally published in Teakisi, The Voice of African Women.