26/01/2018 15:25 SAST | Updated 26/01/2018 15:25 SAST

The Horror Of My Childhood: How I Was Molested

Trigger Warning. It has not always been easy for men to speak about issues relating to abuse they have encountered...

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It has not always been easy for men to speak on issues relating to abuses they have encountered. I relate very well to this, because I am one of those who has suffered humiliation at the hands of a woman.

Sexual violence doesn't only happen in prisons, but also in our comfortable homes where nobody thinks it can happen.

And the fact that patriarchy paints a picture of male hegemony in the society doesn't mean that men are immune to sexual violence, or its only perpetrators. These incidents are often not spoken about due to fear of stigmatisation.

The recent #MenAreTrash campaign evoked mixed emotions characterised by anger, helplessness and memories of the abuse that I was subjected to as a child. But moreover, it made me realise that society is oblivious to some of the injustices men face.

Men, including myself, are to blame for this, because we are so concerned with protecting our masculine facade that we ignore the pain inflicted on us by women. Although I know for a fact that not all women are abusive, and most of them are actually victims of abuse at the hands of men – my argument must not be confused with rape- or intimate-partner-violence apologists.

Every individual, man or woman, who abuses others must be brought to book. It was #MenAreTrash that pressed me to speak out – not just for the men with similar experiences, but for all the children, men and women who have been victimised by these inhumane acts.

The fact that violence against men is rare does not mean that our rights are always protected from vultures.

At the age of seven, I was molested by a female family member who was probably fifteen years older than me.

Somewhere deep within my heart, I hid a secret, and I still can't figure out why the secret had been locked so deep within.

It couldn't be fear – I mean, I am Thabo Makwakwa, one of the few confident people I know. So why would I have been so discreet about something that has bothered me for two decades?

Perhaps it is that I was raised in an environment where men were generally superior to women, where it made no sense for men to be victims of sexual violence by a female perpetrator. How could it happen to me?

I always knew in my head what happened and how it happened, but all I wanted was to bury those hurtful and humiliating thoughts. I didn't want to be dragged back into that horrific scene – and I didn't think anybody could believe me anyway.

Trauma, shock and confusion are what I have lived with for twenty years. What is painful is that it is not a stranger who destroyed my childhood – it was the person who was meant to protect me that turned out to be my worst nightmare.

At the age of seven, I was molested by a female family member, who was probably fifteen years older than me. Her family's background was far better than mine, which made it easier for her to do as she pleased with me.

There was nothing I could do to stop her, because I knew the impact it would have on me as a child, and I didn't think my family would believe me at all.

Her strong breath, pounding heart, heavy body and the movement of my flesh still haunt my memories. I recall lying on the bed wondering what was happening to me.

I felt nothing – no pleasure, no pain. It was a dull moment of confusion – it was the first time that this had happened, and I could not tell anybody about it.

Men and women who are victims of any form of abuse must speak out. Fear must not overcome us, but we must overcome it.

I have never shared this with anybody; not my mum or my late dad. It was only after having studied a module on sexual trauma in varsity that I was able to share my secret with my half-brother – who showed no interest at all.

I was torn at the reaction from my own half-brother. He did not take my story seriously – in fact, he laughed and went on about other things, dismissing me like there was nothing serious in what I had just said.

With everything that happened to me that night, it is only now that I am able to connect the unpleasant dots of my past – it is apparent why my life had been so dramatic. At some point in my life, I would be at loggerheads with women older than me. I had lost respect for women in general.

I mean, I had been forced inside a female person at the age of seven, and it took one night for my life to change instantly. There was little respect left in me for any woman out there; my innocent childhood was stolen when I was turned into a sex object.

I grew up with trust issues. Every person trying to get close to me would be pushed away.

Men and women who are victims of any form of abuse must speak out. Fear must not overcome us, but we must overcome it.

Think of every child that has been molested; all the boys and girls who are sexually abused by the people who should provide care and protection for them. We must all be the voices of the abused – let's speak out against all forms of violence.