I’m in my sixties and I have never revealed my story. The first time I was raped by my husband happened about a month after we were married. I was tired, coming down with flu, and the last thing I felt like was sex. He would not accept no for an answer and pinned me down and forced himself on me. He said it was my duty to always give him sex and that it was his “right” because we were married. He told me this as I hung over the toilet, vomiting. That was the start. It happened frequently after that during the 19 years we were married.
Why did I tolerate it? I truly did not know any better. I did broach the subject with my mother. Her advice was to accept it and to “try to be a better wife”. She warned me that there are no divorces in our family. I had made my bed and had to lie in it. I was afraid of my husband. For 19 years I allowed his physical and emotional abuse (and believe me, forced sex is both). I still do not know how I got the courage to walk away after almost two decades.
I now am free and happy but I have not had any sexual relationships since. I have no confidence about my sexuality. That part of me was murdered, over and over again every time he raped me.
If you are rape survivor and need someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to call the ‘Stop Gender Violence‘ helpline at 0800 150 150.
Note: Rape myths abound after the Vavi rape accusation was brought to light. These myths hurt all rape survivors – and if you ever experience sexual violence, these myths will hurt you too. The most common myth I’ve seen is the fallacy that if you don’t report to the police, it didn’t happen. (See here.) I put out a call on Twitter for survivors who didn’t report to send me their story. To follow the series, see here.