I heard the children scream, “Uuwi, daddy usituue!” (father please don’t kill us!). This was too much for me and I gathered my energy to save them....
Three men attacked me on my way to church, raped and left me to die
Tell us a bit about your background.
I was born in Mpeketoni, Lamu County, and raised by my grandparents. Later when I was in class five, I came to Nairobi to live with my mother. After completing high school, I started hustling to make a living in Kiserian.
What happened on the day you were sexually assaulted?
On that fateful day, I was on my way home in the afternoon after a church service. I was in a hurry, as I wanted to prepare for the evening revival meeting that was to be held in our church.
At around 6:30pm on my way back to the church, three masked men accosted me. They raped me in turns and left me unconscious in a bush. When I regained consciousness, I found myself in a Good Samaritan’s house.
What did you do next?
I was devastated. I went to my house, took a shower and headed to the church to talk to my pastor about the incident. Unfortunately, he instead blamed me for the incident saying that I knew what I was doing with those men. I felt bad and couldn’t believe that the person I was seeking help from was castigating me.
Did you report to the police?
Yes. When I went to report to the police station, I was told that there was nothing that could be done because 72 hours had already lapsed. I was young and didn’t know the procedure to follow after a sexual assault. Besides that, my mind was really messed up because of the horrifying ordeal. I was so afraid of being judged wrongly by the society and people close to me.
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When did you learn you were pregnant?
It was some weeks after the rape ordeal. People judged me a lot because at the time I was a church girl and head girl at school. My dreams of becoming a doctor had been cut short by the criminals who robbed me my innocence away.
How did you cope with the new calamity?
It was difficult to cope. I contemplated suicide and blamed God for abandoning me. There were days when I slept hungry in the streets yet I was heavily pregnant. Soon afterwards, I gave birth and I remember people persuading me to give out my child for adoption. But I declined because I loved my baby.
How did you survive?
After giving birth, I started washing people’s clothes in the neighbourhood so that I could get some money to feed my child. I also opened a small grocery stall on the roadside. What I didn’t know is that things would get worse for me.
After some time, I started getting sick. At first, I didn’t take the sickness seriously because I thought they were stress-related symptoms. I started losing weight and at this point, a close friend advised me to see a doctor. When I visited the hospital, I got the shock of my life because I was told that I had contracted a sexually transmitted disease. My worst fear was confirmed. I left the place without talking to anyone and locked myself in the house for three days. My friend encouraged me a lot and became my pillar.
Did you give up?
No, I took a long time soul-searching and healing. My friend assisted me to get a job at a bus company where I worked as a conductor for four years and later got a promotion. I kept soldiering on and prayed God to give me and my son strength. Getting back on my feet was very hard because people were not ready to accept me but I’m happy that God guided me.
How did the experience impact you?
At first, it affected me a lot because I was still hurting and relating with males was very difficult. I became so bitter that anyone who attempted to come close to me became a suspect. I have been able to face stigma head on because I realised that hiding was not going to help and depression would kill me. I always see this incident as a springboard to give hope to the hopeless.
What challenges did you face?
Stigma and labelling made me feel unwanted but with time I got over it with help from my friend. I took a short course in trauma counseling and I was able to heal and also to help other victims.
What can be done to make it safer for survivors to come forward?
People should stop oppressing victims of sexual violence. Oppression is one of the major reasons they fear to ask for help.
You now run a community organisation…
Yes, it is called Shalom Youth Network. It was birthed after I realized that many young people need a platform to share their experiences, feel wanted and accommodated. We major on healing and coping with psychological and emotional trauma.
Do you have regrets?
No I don’t. I am totally healed and I appreciate the woman I have become from that experience.