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Suicide and forced silence: Rape survivor speaks out

LIMPOPO – Raped at the age of 23 by her uncle in 2015, partially-sighted Tebogo Nkwana (26) was told to keep quiet about the ordeal to protect the family.

Nkwana, who lives in Burgersfort, said she attempted suicide several times as just thinking about the whole experience made her angry about life.

Now a Media Studies student at the University of Limpopo, Nkwana only received counselling last year when she tested HIV positive. She believes she contracted the virus when she was raped.

Nkwana has now dedicated her time to helping other young women who might be going through similar experiences. She wants to help them to speak out and seek help before they end up killing themselves.

Counselling

“When I found out that I was also HIV positive I then joined a support group for people living with HIV which I believe helped me to accept the situation. That was the only time I received counselling because when the abuse happened I was told to keep quiet and nothing was done. I received counselling after almost two years of suffering in silence. Before the counselling, I was always angry, and it also affected me academically,” said Nkwana.

Nkwana has found the courage to talk about her ordeal and be open about her HIV status as she believes that many other women go through the same experience daily – but they too are stopped from talking.

“When I was raped I did not know what to do, and it affected me emotionally and academically. I had to repeat several modules as I couldn’t cope at all and I was confused. I tried several times to commit suicide, but I was not successful,” she said.

Suffer in silence

Many people in rural villages still protect family members who commit sexual assaults in fear of separating families. The victims are left to suffer in silence.

“Around the campus since, I became open about my status many other students have been encouraged to go for an HIV test. They are now free to talk about HIV related issues and their statuses. I believe it’s better for one to know their status by going for regular tests. The important thing is living, and we should accept any situation and seek help before it’s too late,” she said.

Nkwana said she will continue doing motivational talks throughout the province to encourage people to speak out against abuse and go for regular HIV tests. – Health-e News.

Dial *134*334# to access a free and anonymous list of services in five languages for survivors of sexual violence, or visit our map to view and rate facilities across the country.

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