Victims who blame themselves for the sexual abuse they suffer can become psychologically and emotionally exhausted and create a huge obstacle to their own healing from the trauma.
Babalwa blamed herself after she was sexually abused and impregnated by someone she knew and trusted in 1998.
In the same year that she was raped, Babalwa started dating a man whom she married. At that time, she did not know that she was already pregnant from the rape.
“I only learnt this 14 years later when we were divorcing. He refused to support us and I took him to court. Paternity tests were conducted and proved that the child was not his.
The news left me a broken woman. I lost hope in life and ended up losing my job. I was admitted to a mental hospital for depression. I asked myself, how am I supposed to deal with this anger and violation of self? I reacted with hate, bitterness, fear, insecurity and confusion. I couldn’t say the word rape, I harboured resentment. I was humiliated and infuriated. I told the nurses that I was not mentally sick and there was no need for me to be there.
To make matters worse, my son did not take the news well. He started using cocaine and all sorts of drugs,” said Babalwa
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depression is an illness, as real and serious as heart disease or cancer.
“Because I was unable to deal with my situation, I ended up going to Groote Schuur for treatment, but after some time I stopped when I thought I had dealt with my emotional pain. The situation got worse because I kept this problem a secret. I was later admitted to a mental institution and spent five months there.
I revolted against this situation and took part in the Self Awareness meetings every Tuesday. In one of the meetings I realised I had not dealt with my anger. I decided to open up about my past and forgive my attacker. I understood the only way to free myself from my situation was to look him in the eye and tell him I forgave him for what he had done to me.
I now have immeasurable peace within me. I would really like to encourage everyone who has internal issues to start attending the Self Awareness meetings as these will help them discover all the hidden agendas within their hearts,” said Babalwa.