The first step is always the hardest yet the bravest.
Tina is a student, actor, influencer and a survivor of sexual assault
‘’After being assaulted, you might be physically hurt, emotionally scarred or mentally traumatized. You feel like it’s the end of time. You feel like people around you are breathing but you are drowning. You feel so drained, you don’t know what to do, well, the first step I took was the beginning of healing. And Sometimes the scars might be too deep to heal all at once. Some people may take long while others not so long, but there is no timetable in the healing process. Once you take the first step, no matter how small, it makes a big difference, it’s a nice way to start. Share. Trust me, it works wonders. It gives you some sort of therapeutic sensation and it is the best feeling after going to hell and surviving.’’
“I always loved acting ever since I was in high school. It made me feel safe and it boosted my confidence. Finally, something I could do right and be accepted for it. After I joined campus, I signed up for a few acting clubs and I loved every minute of it. I starred in a few films and everyone in my school liked it. After just two years in campus, some big production company in Nairobi had seen some of my films and contacted me. I was so excited to go for the audition the following week.’’
Tina packed her bags and went for the audition. Her big break
‘’I turned up for the audition very early, did my bit and gave it my all. I went home and crossed my fingers to get the call of a life time. After a few days, they finally called and told me I got the part. I was so happy I felt like glitter was exploding inside me. They gave me the script and the shooting schedule for the film.’’
She moved to Nairobi and to the apartment she was given by the production company and started shooting the film right away.
After a few days there, I went to change. The producer walked in. I only had a bra on so I tried to cover myself up with a lesso. He came closer and closer telling me how he would make me a star and a big part in all his films.’’
Tina didn’t know what she had to do in return.
“It was like in the movies – having an instance to make a do or die decision. He tried to touch my breasts. I slapped him so hard.”
Tina fought for herself and what she believed in. Was it enough though?
“He locked the door and grabbed me forcefully. I fought, I screamed. I kicked and slapped him repeatedly. But he was too strong.’’
Tina went to the authorities after that incident, but the officer just laughed and “told me to go and sort my issue with my boyfriend…”
‘’I went back to school. All my friends telling me I must be stupid to quit such a big production. I became depressed for weeks. I did not eat anything; I did not speak to anyone. He had ruined acting for me. But the saddest part of it all is, I blamed myself for what happened. I hated myself and asked my inner self the ’what ifs’ – what if I fought a little harder to break free? What if I screamed a little louder? What if I said no a little firmer?
But the questions were simply endless, with Tina hoping all the voices would be silent but she was not even safe in her own skin.
‘’I woke up one day and saw some articles in a magazine about sexual assaults. I knew I was not alone. I knew that there are people out there who understand what I am going through and I saw a glimpse of hope.’’
Tina got some help from the school counselor and felt some change. ‘’I took my first step to get better and I never looked back.’’
The sexual violence does not define Tina and she won’t deny that for a fact it changed her.
‘‘I have to admit that it was the worst time for me. The peak of my acting yet the worst trauma anyone could ever go through. But speaking up and telling my story gives me hope of overcoming what I went through, that finally all the scars I had will eventually heal, no matter how long it might take and helping a person or two in the process. Right now, I’m learning to own the trauma attached to the awful experience. And it starts by accepting and making peace with the fact that it was never my fault.”
In time, Tina regained her unbreakable spirit after sharing the story and empowering other girls with the unplugged project. Now they help change the life of the survivors of sexual violence.