Speaking out has helped this survivor

Nhlanhla was only two when her uncle raped her. More rapes followed when she was five and continued until she was an adult. Last year she broke the silence.

Nhlanhla was only two when her uncle raped her. More rapes followed when she was five and continued until she was an adult. Last year she broke the silence.

Nhlanhla, who is now 40, says: "He threatened to kill me if I told anyone. I was scared. I thought people would blame me.

"When I was 16 I was raped again and fell pregnant. Two years later I was raped and fell pregnant again. I hated and blamed myself.

"I was raped again in 1992, 1994 and in 1998, this time by a white man. I hated myself even more. I kept asking what it was that attracts rapists to me. Was it because I am ugly? I tried to commit suicide. I couldn't take it anymore.

"At home things were also difficult. There was no support. I couldn't tell them. I felt unwanted. At school no one wanted to be my friend. I thought it was because of what happened to me. They teased me and said hurtful things like I smelled badly.

"As I grew up I withdrew from society. I spent most of the time alone. I tried several times to kill myself. I just wanted to end it all.

"My children, aged 21 and 23, don't know. One of them sometimes asks about her father. I don't want to destroy their lives, so I can't tell them the truth.

"Last year I told my mom. I said I wanted to lay a rape charge against my uncle. She was hurt but there was nothing she could do. I tried to get help but didn't have the strength to go through with it.

"I went to Powa this year because I could feel my life slipping away. I have lived with this anger and hatred for 38 years. I wanted to get help for my children's sake.

"Counselling helped. I'm beginning to reclaim my life. I lived in anger because I was afraid but it doesn't have to be like that."

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