01 Jul My Story The Little Girl in The Black Dress
Trigger warning: please note -the following stories contain sensitive material about sexual and dating violence and may cause physiological and psychological symptoms for people with anxiety disorders including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
These are first-hand experiences as told by women affected by gender-based violence. It is unedited and published with their full consent. Please read these stories with empathy and know that these women are survivors.
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Let me start from the very beginning, I was born in Peninsula Maternity Hospital. 26 of March 1971, just three months before my mother got a house in Hanover Park. I was raised in this house and in this house, I have so many memories, good ones and bad ones. I love dancing, so that is one of the good memories. I remember my mother being a Western Province Umpire, she loved her sport, Netball, it was part of our daily lives, and it came before everything else, partner, children and even church. Mother had her own netball club called Hanover Eagles, and we were all netball players. I remember as an adult I would get these flashbacks of her leaving the house at night in her Western Province tracksuit, off to some meeting and I would always erase that memory. Why? Because whenever she would leave, fear gripped my heart, I knew he was going to come for me, with his quality street chocolates. He would put a chocolate in my mouth just before he penetrated me, and it would be so painful at times that I wanted to cry but the chocolate in my mouth caused me to choke and then he still placed his hand over my mouth because there were more people in the house. Then I had a memory of a little girl in a black dress with the white stain on the seam of her dress. I suppressed all these memories for years until I had my first boyfriend who told me, “I’m not your first”. I cried for two days and my friends thought we had broken our relationship, so they cried with me, they didn’t understand. He just opened the lid of something that was buried deep down for some years. I then deliberately got pregnant, why? I have always been a hard worker, so I was working while I was at school and in grade 11 I decided to work full time, so I became the breadwinner as they call it. Mother was struggling as there was no income. So when I got pregnant, my mother wasn’t happy at all, but back to my story. Having a baby didn’t help me as I was still not satisfied and there was this void on the inside of me, the longing to belong. And of course the haunting memories of the little girl in the black dress.
After having two girls from two different relationships I finally married the love of my life, this guy has loved me since I was at high school but never made a move. Even though my husband physically abused me in the early years of our marriage, I still saw the best in him and he loved all of me. Yes, even the crazy me, the moody me and the angry me. We decided to get married in 1998 and because we both had two children we decided to have only one child. After one year of marriage, I gave birth to our son, oh, he is really God’s gift to me. My son was born in the year 2000 and on his first birthday in 2001 and became so sick and the doctor said they don’t know what it was. After celebrating my son’s first birthday I was scheduled to have an operation at Heideveld Day Hospital for sterilization, but something inside of me was telling me to go to the clinic instead. I got out of the Athlone taxi and went straight to the Local Clinic for a pregnancy test. And there it was, I was pregnant, terrified of my hubby’s reaction, yet excited for this miracle baby. My husband, was upset that night when I told him I was pregnant, he said we will have to abort it, or I must go back to my mother. In 2006 my son got very sick and almost died and I asked God to save him and to forgive me for aborting my baby and God did and I
gave my heart to Jesus. Then God opened up doors to my past which I have kept closed for years. First door He opened was the door where the little girl in the black dress with the white stain lived. I said no lord, this is too much. I was taken to a scene where this little girl was sitting at the feet of her mother and her mother was saying “jys ougat’ gaan saam met jou pa” I knew he was going to take me into the bushes, as he so often did whenever she (my mother) was craving for fish and chips from Snoek Wholesalers. When we came back she noticed this white stain on the seam of my dress and she asked me, “What is this stain? And she answered her own question.
“Oh, its candle wax (kersvet). I then realized why I was so angry towards my mother and why I got pregnant deliberately. I blamed her because she was either suspicious he was doing something to me or she knew and allowed this. Another scene was played like a video, in this scene I was taken to live with a relative of my mom, who had a daughter that was the same age as I was. This was my cousin and her daughter would whisper in my ear many times to remind me where I was coming from. We had no electricity in at home, so I was used to taking cold showers and baths. So many nights we didn’t have supper, she would remind me of that whenever I was laughing or just having fun. She was whispering in my ear, don’t forget. I was brought back home, only to find my daddy has moved out and I was taken to the local clinic for vitamins and nutrients as I was neglected and underweight. I had to adhere to a strict diet.
One thing was missing and I asked God, where is the memory of the first time he did this to me, as I had no memory. Girls talk and they always tell each other of their first sexual experience, how painful it was and how they felt. I however had no memory of my first sexual encounter even though it was rape. One evening in church the presence of God was heavily upon me and God showed me the scene. As I was laying down, I felt the painfulful penetration of his penis and I grabbed his arm. It was the arm of a baby of nine month old baby girl grabbing this hairy arm of a grown man. Now my daddy was a very hairy man that is why they called him “Apie”I cried out loud, I was just a baby. Then it hit me, my mother always used to say that I was her weakest baby. All her children were walking at the age of nine to ten months but when she said “When she put me down I would just drop.” I couldn’t stand alone or walk while holding on to the couches like other babies would do at the age of nine months. Even my younger daughter started walking at the age of nine months. I always had health issues with my womb and with my fourth pregnancy I felt like I was going to miscarry but I had an abortion scheduled so it didn’t happen because I had the abortion.
It finally made sense that my daddy wasn’t my biological father. Why? My daddy was a fisherman and he would leave home for many months and every time he left, my mother was pregnant and when he returned the baby was born, but the time of my conception, daddy brought home a friend who needed a place to stay. So this man stayed behind and daddy went again, so according to my mom his sister said I wasn’t his child. My daddy sexually abused all his girl children and don’t know about the boys, but I was the only one that he started with as a baby, according to my knowledge.
How this affected my marriage
Well, my husband had extra material affairs and I didn’t understand why he was doing it. I just know that whenever I saw a movie where a child was raped I would close up completely and my husband was not getting sex from me for a while. What happens is, a woman opens up like a flower when her husband is penetrating, and there is no struggle for him, but when she has been violated before marriage she cannot open up like a flower until she is healed and until she has recovered.
When I became a teenager my mother always called me her Gouwsblom