I've put the rape behind me
Posted Wednesday, April 25 2012 at 00:00
- Three years ago, 32-year-old Lilian Kirabo* was raped. She talks about her struggle to overcome the trauma and her struggle to accept and love the child she bore as a result of the attack.
I resisted taking an HIV test and only gave in when I was booked for delivery after it was explained to me that I needed it so that I could protect my child from contracting the virus in case I tested positive.
When I got the results, I was relieved to know that I was free of the virus.
I finally gave birth to a baby boy. He did not resemble me and I resented him. My mother decided to call him Blessing. She took it upon herself to show him love when I could not.
This gradually changed my attitude towards him. Mother encouraged me to breastfeed him and, to my surprise, I found myself getting attached to him. She also talked me out of placing Blessing for adoption, and promised to look after my son as if she were her own, if I could not bring myself to do it.
Learning to love Blessing
It has taken time, it has been emotionally and psychologically taxing, but I have learnt to disconnect my son from the rape. I now love him regardless of how he came into my life.
Blessing is now two-and-a-half years old and I love him with all my heart. He is a loving boy who enjoys football and building blocks. He is talkative and observant. He gets me talking whenever he notices that there is something bothering me. He does not hesitate to ask, “Mum, ni nini?” (What is it?)
An important lesson this experience has taught me is that it does not matter how old you are, or how you are dressed. A rapist will always find a reason to attack you.
On the day I was attacked, I wearing a long flowing skirt suit since I was going for a job interview. Why would anyone argue that rape victims invite the attack because they dress indecently? If this is true, what about children? We have heard of grown men raping two-year-old children.
This experience has also motivated me to speak against sexual abuse. Thanks to the training I have received at the Kenyatta National Hospital’s GVRC, I know a lot about such attacks.
I visit schools in Nairobi at least once every week to speak to pupils and students about rape and other forms of sexual assault.
My interaction with these young people has taught me that sexual abuse among children is common. In most cases, the attackers are relatives and other adults in whose care they are entrusted.
My colleagues and I teach these children how to spot a potential perpetrator and when to report to their guardians and other people they trust of suspicious friendships.
I urge parents to talk to their children about sexual abuse and caution them about getting involved in inappropriate friendships with adults. It is something I do with my daughter all the time. A candid talk will equip them with survival skills that they can apply even as adults, skills that could keep them safe from sexual attacks.