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This is a hashtag that has got many mothers trembling in their boots. In a thread on Facebook, one woman’s story of abuse, at the hands of her relative no less, opened doors for other women to open up about experiences they have been forced to keep secret for years.
Pearl is a woman who was molested by her uncle when she was in what is now Grade Four. “I didn’t realise I was defiled until I grew up,” she confesses. “I lost mine [virginity] to my uncle. My Mum’s brother. He was older than me.
“I mean, how were you going to say that Uncle Nick* alikufanya tabia mbaya?”
Many women joined the conversation, describing heinous acts they endured at the hands of people who are traditionally meant to protect them: brothers, cousins, uncles, close family friends.
“I was raped by my cousins (two brothers) who were older than me by far,” a second woman confessed.
A third wrote, “I lost my virginity to my brothers. I was the only girl. Mum never mentored/guided me on my way up as a girl. I found my own way…at some point, I thought whatever was happening was alright and that’s how it should be.
Reading down the thread, your heart breaks at the innocence that was stolen from these little girls. What makes it worse is that they felt ashamed and afraid to speak up against the crimes being committed against them.
“When I was nine, the neighbour’s watchman raped me. I was little. I was confused about what to do. I never told my mum,” one woman commented. “I thought I would be beaten.”
“He [an uncle] was in campus and you know by then parents thought campus was a small heaven. So he would pretend he is helping me with homework or books then do it. If I tried to resist or cry, he would say I don’t want to study and you know how parents were so you will end up being beaten,” another wrote.
Child molestation, one woman pointed out, is not exclusive to baby girls only. It also happens to the boys.
This sort of action always leaves a mark. Many victims of abuse grow up to be troubled adults. Habits such as bed-wetting until the child is their teens could be a sign of trauma that happened during childhood.
“I wet my bed until I was 13!” one admitted.
A second: “Trusting anyone now is hard”
“My esteem… There’s something in me that has never been the same. I have a hard time with relationships… Sex too,” another user confessed.
“My marriage is a mess,” a fourth added.
They called on parents to create an environment which makes it easier for their little ones to speak up especially when there is something they are going through that troubles them.
“As mothers, let’s be actively involved in our kids’ lives. Let’s make them our best friends. Let’s teach them that it’s okay for them to tell us anything no matter how stupid it may sound. The moment you try to suppress anything they are saying, to them it might appear that you don’t want them to tell you anything…they will not open up…” one mother urged.
“Trust your kids. If they don’t like a certain person do not force them,” another said.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Evewoman.co.ke