Sunday, February 19, 2012

In the words of a woman who was raped as a child

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 11 February 2012)

‘I would just like to tell you a little story, my mom committed suicide when I was six years old, I’m the only girl and youngest of three kids. My older brother, who was loving, caring, and protective of me being the little girl, took advantage and raped me at age seven. Then I had a cousin who did the same thing. He claimed he loved me; I was so naive. Anyway, I never told anyone, I grew up with this pain and today I realize the damage it caused me psychologically, and psychically.’

These words are from a Guyanese woman who is very concerned about the fact that so many children and women are being raped. She wanted to share her story, anonymously, so people can understand what happens to the lives of these children who are being raped.

In short, the lives of rape victims are shattered. It is difficult to ever be normal again or to have a normal relationship. When a child is raped, the effects of this traumatic event linger on for the rest of his/her life – physically, mentally and psychologically. It touches every part of his/her life and nothing good is left untainted by rape.

In a letter to the Editor of Stabroek News on February 9 entitled, ‘Two months into 2012 and there is little change’, the women’s advocacy group, Red Thread, said “2012 is not yet 2 months old and we are already looking at reports indicating that more than 23 children have been either sexually molested, physically assaulted by teachers, or missing from home.”

And that number seems to grow each day. This is cause for great alarm and there is a great amount of distress from the citizens of the nation. Yet it seems that alarm has yet to find its way into the veins of those who lead the country.

Rape is the vilest of acts. It rips away all feeling of security, self-worth and confidence of the good in others. It takes years of proper counselling, something sorely missing in Guyana, to ever function as a normal person again.

Here is how my friend who was raped as a little girl put it, “I also want you to know when a child is raped or molested at a very young age it’s hard to trust men, to keep relationships. I’m very insecure, not sexually motivated and I isolate myself and most of all a great deal of depression goes with it. I also watch my daughter with extra eyes. I once was seeing someone who loved my daughter, as you know at age three she is attracted to the opposite sex parent or figure around, and one day I told him I didn’t like the way he loved my daughter and that I did not trust him with her, and he took it very offensive, and the relationship ended. So Stella, there is so much that goes on that automatically destroys that individual.”

She continued, “Because I was so vulnerable I got married at age 20 and got two kids right after. However, my husband left my two babies and me for another woman. I have since hated men, I despise them in every way. I’m living with this hurt and pain everyday wishing it will go away and I find it difficult to stay in relationships.

“I see a brilliant, innocent girl’s life being snatched. This is like carrying an entire mountain within me, tall and hard as anything can be. My desire is to use my story to help at least one woman or young girl, but I’m ashamed to do it.”

Yes, shame is another significant facet of rape. Yet the rapist – the one who should feel shame – seldom seems to be ashamed of what he has done to the child or the woman. He doesn’t seem to care that he has shattered a life just to sate his sexual appetite. What a sick animal!

That such atrocities can be committed against the children of the human race is barbaric. Yet it is. And it is just as treacherous when society sits idle and does little or nothing to protect these little ones or help them once they have been raped.

How can the leaders of the country go on with their day-to-day activities like nothing is happening when the lives so many of Guyana’s children are being shattered into tiny bits that will never fit back together properly?

What will these victims be when they grow up? Will they be the next predators and continue the cycle? Or will they be like my friend who is unable to have a trusting relationship with a man? Neither of these scenarios – or the many others that are possible for victims of rape – is desirable for the healthy development of the nation.

Some leaders might express their horror at the brutal rapes that have so far plagued 2012, but without any viable ideas for solutions or steps taken to help the victims, their feigned “horror” is absolutely meaningless. Sadly, too many of those in leadership positions are calloused to this issue because they, too, are perpetrators or are friends to perpetrators. Again, sick animals!

It has not escaped my notice that ordinary citizens are having far more productive discussions on Facebook about how to address the issue of rape and violence against women and children than any of the politicians have presented.

This is what one woman said on Facebook, “Until we as a nation are able to call a spade a spade, rape and violence against women will remain legalised, idolised and glorified.” In other words, we cannot simply turn a blind eye to this atrocity and pretend it doesn’t exist.

A movement has started amongst the people and they are ready to protect the nation’s children even if the elected leaders will not. Also, there is a candlelight vigil planned at Port Mourant this Wednesday at 6.30 pm to demonstrate community solidarity against the animals who would rape women and children.

There are many alleged perpetrators facing their day in court in the next few weeks; including the nation’s top cop and a Muslim scholar. It would send a strong message to other would be rapists if those guilty of rape were sentenced to stiff penalties for shattering the lives of women and children.

I will be watching closely to see the outcome of these matters and so will many, many others. Justice must prevail.

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