“Deep down I know it was me. There is nobody else to blame …”
Jane* is an entrepreneur, selling her pieces of artwork in a boutique. She used to be a dancer in a gospel dance crew. Now with a 3-year old daughter
“He was a gentleman, a guy I had known for several years. In fact he introduced me to dancing and helped me choreograph my early steps. I owe my dancing prowess to him.”
And within the next few years the two became pretty close, with even friends assuming they were a couple.
“I had a boyfriend at that time. He was cool with my relationship with Billy*. At first he was a bit apprehensive and I had to reassure him over and over until he gave me his blessings.”
His jealousy turned into support, especially when Jane explained how much dancing meant to her
“My dance crew was making waves, getting invitations to perform in various events all over the region. Billy and I were top in our game, developing new routines each time we had a new gig, inspiring our team mates to do better. We were the perfect BFFs.”
And then it happened
“I was changing after a long day. My teammates had already left and we were all alone in our usual dance rehearsal venue. I didn’t hear him. And I don’t know how long he had stood there, watching me. The next thing I knew his hands were all over my body. I pushed him away and I still remember the look of surprise on his face…”
Jane’s life changed after that.
“I felt dirty. I sat there on the cold floor, tears refusing to drop. I kept blaming myself every second, feeling like I had brought all this to myself.”
She did not report to anyone
“Why would anyone believe in me? They all assumed we were lovers. It would make little or no difference to them. I did not tell my boyfriend. He was the supportive kind of person, always being there for me, giving me a shoulder to lean on. Every single time. But on this one, I just could not.”
As sudden as her dream to dance had started, it died. And she stopped attending practice. Changed her number. Stopped attending church.
“My boyfriend didn’t ask many questions. He knew something had happened. And he was there for me, giving me enough space. He kept on telling me to talk to him when I felt I was ready.”
After several months, Jane could not hold it any longer
“I remember that evening. I was apprehensive all day, pacing up and down, feeling nervous. And when he walked in carrying my favorite bottle of yoghurt, I just couldn’t. It was too much for me.”
But it was do or die.
“Should I tell him I had been abused or should I tell him I was expectant?”
For the 2 years they had dated Jane had pictured how he would react to the news. He had always wanted to be a father. They had discussed about colors, about baby names, about doing a simple church wedding
“And I had betrayed him. I had failed him. I felt like a wretch.”
Jane quietly packed her stuff and walked away without goodbye. She left town. Changed her number again and has never seen or talked to her boyfriend again
“I always ask myself what he goes through. Does he miss me? Would he have forgiven me? Would he have accepted the baby? Would he have understood my pain? Every time I looked at the baby, a raging anger would slash my heart…and I stopped breastfeeding her. I stayed with my aunt, a wise woman who quietly saw my pain.”
Jane suffered from post-partum depression for several months.
“The nurses at the dispensary did not understand my dilemma. They judged me. I felt their accusing eyes all over me every time I took the baby for check-up. At some point I thought about leaving the baby at the clinic and just walk away. I was pretty good at walking away.”
Jane has never moved on
“I see Billy every time I watch a movie with people dancing. I saw him in church the one time I attended a service. I saw him walking past my aunt’s house, laughing with his friends. I see him every day.”
And she can’t control her guilt
“I blame myself. I feel I should have seen it coming. But then he was my BFF, how could I? Had I sent him wrong signals? Had I said yes without actually speaking the words? What did I do wrong?”
Her life has started all over again. She sells her art work in an open market. Her aunt is supportive.
“I’m not sure what I feel for my baby. I know people should love their babies. Maybe I will. But right now, she reminds me of my past. She is the only connection with my ugly past.”
Jane desperately wants to move on. Start afresh.
“Telling my story is my first step to healing. I have bottled things inside for so many nights. I want to laugh again. I want to love again. I look at couples walking hand in hand and I feel like I need a second chance. But I’m so messed up. I feel like I can’t look someone in the eye and tell them I love them. I’m a broken piece of garbage.”
The mirror is her worst nightmare
“Every time I look in the mirror I see the devil. Not worthy of forgiveness. I have broken a few mirrors, willing to change my story. Change the face of the devil. But I guess I will need to break many more mirrors to achieve this.”
Jane is currently taking part in her self-discovery journey with the Unplugged project. Meeting other survivors of sexual violence, telling their stories to each other, finding inspiration in each other’s journey. Finding help with therapy sessions and learning to love herself again