I met the mother of my son in the early 1980’s during the height of all the apartheid nastiness and bullshit.
A few years earlier as a teenager she had gone on a date with a guy she knew who was back from national service in Angola. He raped her. The district surgeon who examined her said that the injuries to her vagina were the most severe he had ever seen. The public prosecutor advised her parents that pressing charges was a bad idea as the rapist would be perceived as a “war hero” and she had consented to go on a date with him after all. So the matter was left unresolved.
She started to suffer from depression. Self harming and substance abuse followed. This progressed until she was a full blown addict. Looking back now I recognize POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER.
I met her a month after she came out of a rehabilitation programme. She was bright, confident and happy. We fell head over heels in love. We conceived a child together. We were happy and positive about the future.
Our boy was born and things started to change. The birth experience triggered rape memories. She started to use drugs again. Our intimacy disappeared. She had an affair with my best friend.
We separated and I was granted custody of our two year old boy. I worked and parented wondering what the fuck had gone wrong. She died of an overdose about a year later.
Our boy had to face his own demons as a teenager when he started dealing with abandonment. He drugged heavily for a while and there were times when I did not think he would make it.
He is now 28 and happy and doing well. He is an awesome human being.
If due process had been followed, if she had been offered the support that she needed and deserved I believe that the outcome would would have been very different.
I eventually found out who her rapist was and I went looking for him. I wanted revenge for the pain he had caused. I wanted to put him into a wheel chair for the rest of his life. I found this washed out broken pathetic human being.
I walked away.
Rest in peace you crazy Diamond. I will always have a huge place in my heart for you. Your boy is doing so well and thank you for trusting me with his custody back then.
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.