Rakeal: Stress and Depression caused by Rape.
I AM A SURVIVOR
I am Rakeal, 23 years of age and a strong typical African lady, 2016 was the year I always regretted. I had finished high school waiting for placement in one of the universities, I remember this Friday like it was yesterday. Woke up early and cleaned my room and our compound as usual. I was to attend my computer classes and then later deliver a letter to the church youth leader. The youth leader lived in town, and my computer classes also took place in town, I was the most reliable sender to deliver the letter.
INTO THE WORLD
I got to town finished my classes and called Solomon, who was the youth leader to pick up his letter. He was not around, so he asked me to drop it at the apartment gate where he stays. I reached the gate and knocked, but there was no response. I opened it since it was not locked and proceeded to a young lady who was lighting a jiko. I said hi to her and asked for Solomon's house, she pointed to room 03, I could see a padlock at the door so I decided to leave the letter with the lady. In a span of a minute, Solomon's presence engulfed my vicinity. We shook hands, and he offered me a kind request of joining him for lunch at his house. I tried to resist, but the hunger couldn't let me. I shyly gave in and followed him to his room. He turned on his woofer and played gospel music as he started cooking. He quickly prepared rice with stew and served us, we enjoyed the lunch as we chatted and tried to catch up.
THE DARK SIDE
It was time for me to leave after thanking him for his kindness, He asked me to wait as he got out and came back about three minutes later, but this time he closed the door and locked it. I was confused……He started asking me questions that confused me even more. He asked why I didn't greet him with a hug. He told me how good I looked and how he'd been eyeing me with love and lust, he held my hands pulled me up and forcefully hugged me so tight and this instilled even more fear in me, I realized everything was not okay. The woofer was now playing music on full blast, I tried to scream and yell at him but my voice was overpowered by the music.
Fast forward, Solomon forcefully broke my virginity and took away my innocence. This was the beginning of my depression, I remember going home with a torn skirt as a result of me resistance, I left my blood-stained underwear at his place, this broke me wholly into pieces. I got home tired, confused and hopeless. I freshened up and went straight to bed. The scenes were recurring in my mind like a movie, I cried till my eyes were sore, days went by and I started becoming weak and sickly. My dad insisted that I go the doctor and that my mother should accompany me, we got to the hospital where thorough tests were done to me. I remember the name and appearance of the nurse who called me to the consultation room, she asked me if I was aware that I was pregnant, I loudly broke down out of disbelief, she calmed me down and requested me to tell her what happened and I painfully narrated my encounter with Solomon. It still hit me hard, having to narrate and remember all the gory details. I could not imagine being a mom at 17. I had to report Solomon and justice took its due course. I had to attend guidance and counselling sessions for me to come into terms with the whole issue. Depression and anxiety broke me down completely, I was getting weaker and more often contemplated suicide, I could not imagine what the world would have thought of me. One fateful night, I had a bad dream, I woke up to a pool of blood in my bed, I found myself in the hospital the next morning, my pregnancy was no more. I had a miscarriage. That hit me harder. I felt like it was a dead end for me. I gave up on everything and everyone.
I am grateful to God, my parents and the counsellors who tried hard to bring me back to my senses. I am a fighter and survivor of gender-based violence and am doing this to the end. No one should undergo GBV of any form. I am a supporter of mental healthcare and emotional support, I'm certain that after this story you will find strength and inspiration to fight whatever comes your way. To all that have faced GBV, let not your past define you. I pray you to come out of it stronger than before.