My name is Mpho and I am a 17-year-old girl from the township of Soweto. I grew up with just my mother in the home, until at 11 she married my step-father. The first year of their marriage was great - he was really nice to me and my mom. He used to spoil us by taking us on holidays and to fancy restaurants.
He lost his job two years later, and then he started drinking a lot. I was so young and I could not understand why. He used to come home from drinking with his friends in the early hours of the morning and start screaming about every little thing he could find.
When I didn’t get out of my bed to pay attention to him because I had school in the next few hours, he would pull me out of my bed and act aggressively towards me. I ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼would scream and cry for my mother, but she was scared and didn’t know what she could do to stop my step-dad..
Because I was so young, I felt I must have deserved it because there is no way your own parents would harm you for nothing. I cried in the school bathroom every day.
One day my friend saw my bruises. She asked me what happened and I told her. The shock and sadness in her eyes just triggered all the pain I was holding inside and I began to tell her everything that’d been happening to me. My friend really supported me and I could not be more grateful for the support and comfort she gave to me when I was feeling down. While she stood by my side, she also recommended that I call childline for professional help and that I tell a trusted adult.
I decided to get help from a relative of mine, Aunt Busi. She was upset that I was dealing with all of this pain by myself and that my mother was not doing anything, but she didn’t want to cause a fight in the family. My aunt spoke to my mother and they came up with a plan for my mom and I to live with my grandmother.
It has taken a long time but I am much happier since speaking to someone about this, even though the pain of the past can hurt a lot sometimes. To deal with that pain, I have been going to counselling at school, where my school counsellor has taught me about how drawing can help me deal with trauma. ￼￼￼￼ If you are dealing with abuse at home or anywhere else, here are a few things you can do.
Consider talking to a trusted adult, like an older relative, parent, guardian, teacher or school counsellor, depending on who is making you feel unsafe. You can also call Childline’s toll-free number on 0800 555 for confidential advice.
Make sure you have an emergency number you can call if you ever feel like you are is in danger. The emergency contact should be someone who you feel can attend to you as soon as possible
Remember Springsters, dealing with abuse and violence is never easy, but know that abuse is never your fault and you should not blame yourself for someone else’s behaviour. No one deserves to be harmed, no matter the reason.
NOTE: The girl featured in this photograph is a model and has no relation to the content of the article.