#IAmASurvivor are stories from women of all walks of life, telling their stories of survival. Everybody is a survivor and all stories deserve to be told. These stories are all in their own words.
I was born raised in Johannesburg, Eldorado Park. My story starts as a five-year-old witnessing endless domestic violence. My dad was jealous and abusive; he would beat my mom every other day. He died when I was six-year-old of a heart disease. When I was thirteen years old, I started developing as a young lady; I was sexually abused by a family member. At fourteen I was sexually molested by our school caretaker. At fifteen I was raped by a family member in our home, in my room on my bed. At sixteen I was molested by a stranger in a taxi at gun point. Later that year I was molested again by another stranger on a train. At this point I despised men and myself too. I hated the mere sight of myself, could not bear looking at myself. At twenty-one I was raped by my than boyfriend.
Things started spiraling out of control for me on every dimension of my life.
I blamed myself every encounter. I believed it was my fault. Maybe if I was not in my night dress when I was thirteen, maybe my family member would not have violated me. Maybe if I wasn’t wearing that jeans that night in the taxi or the train I would not have been violated. But I said no, I said no six times; repeatedly. These men were all older and stronger than me. One threatened to kill my grandmother. Surely, I count not speak out, I must be quiet of my granny dies. I was a rebellious, bitter teenager walking around with resentment and unforgivingness. I was a walking time bomb. One day I had a black out in a doctor’s room, woke up in hospital and was told I would never conceive a child.
That was the last straw. I felt God abandoned me.
I could not understand how the God my mom introduced me to could be so amazing an allow all this to happen to me. How can I describe Him as amazing and loving? There was lots of talk on forgiveness. Everyone kept telling me I had to forgive. I couldn’t. In fact, I refused to forgive. Forgiving them meant I was okay with what they did to me. I could not bring myself to forgive.
I started reading books to take away the war in my head and the bitter coal taste in my mouth. When I read Joyce Meyer’s Beauty For Ashes, I realized it is time to forgive. I started praying for this every day (difficult at first), after a while it became my reality, praying for them, asking God to help me forgive them, release them also forgive myself. I had to find myself, love myself and grow to a point of understanding that being violated had nothing to do with me, it was about these individuals who were all sick and poured it out on me. I then set up meetings with those I knew and could reach. Letting them know that I forgive them. Some were dismissive and flabbergasted that I called them out. One conversation went better than I expected. When I told one man "I forgive you," his response was:”how could you forgive me?” And I said:” Raping me was about you but forgiving you is not just about me. It is about me, my future husband, my unborn children (even though they say I can’t have any), their children and most importantly it is about every women I will encounter in my walk of life. Everyone who I will have to steer through this same dark tunnel I have been through.”
He sobbed like a baby.
Forgiveness became my way of life, my beacon of hope because I realized by forgiving I gave myself a gift by releasing them, I set myself free. My healing started, the war in my mind has come to an end; the bitter coal taste in my mouth has gone. I felt free, looking at myself I saw beauty. I traded my ashes for beauty.
Years later I met an amazing man, we got married and we’re celebrating sixteen years of marriage. God restored my womb and blessed me with four amazing children; I call them my arrows.
I once was broken but I am restored. I was a victim, but I am a survivor. I survived for myself, my husband, my children, their children and for you (yes you). I could not give up, I had to push through, I had more to lose than anyone other rape victim; I had to survive for them. If I did not forgive I would not have been healed.
Forgiveness made me whole.
I am Leading Lady Leyonie, I am not ashamed of my scar, it is a reflection of God’s Grace.