Close this search box.

Dive In

Latest Articles

Business people in a video call meeting
Entrepreneurship & Tips
Notebook with Let's talk Sex and condoms on pink background
African American woman looking at a map travel and explore concept
Lifestyle & Travel

Supporting victims: A way to overcome assault

201712wrd kenya sv 0

Sexual assault is a difficult subject to discuss, primarily because no one can understand fully the victim’s experience and trauma; the only thing to say is that there is nothing we cannot overcome.

I’d like to tell you about Muhimpundu [only the last name will be mentioned]. This young girl never imagined she would live such a traumatic life. She became a victim of sexual assault/ rape and became pregnant as a result of the unfortunate event.

She never imagined having a child at such a young age, let alone giving birth to a child whose father she did not know, and she certainly never imagined leaving her hometown because of the mistreatment she was subjected to.

She had no choice; she was a victim. We had the opportunity to speak with her, and her story is heartbreaking.

The wedding that started it all

Muhimpundu and some of her other friends were invited to a wedding of a friend. They prepared themselves to enjoy the day.

She and her friends did not consume alcohol on that particular day because their religion forbids it.

As the hours passed. She began to feel dizzy and eventually asked for a place to lie down, thinking she was probably just tired.

“I don’t know, maybe there was something in the soda [Fanta], because when they gave it to me, the cap was already open,” she explained, “I have no recollection of what occurred because when I awoke, I was covered in blood and felt as if someone had forced themselves on me.”

“I looked over and it looked like I’d just had sex but all I could remember was falling asleep. I was terrified because I knew it wasn’t my period. When I asked my friends what happened, they said they didn’t know,” she went on.

Muhimpundu believes her friends may have played a role in the situation; she recalls certain men being present and that when she awoke, all of them had vanished.

She was afraid to talk about it for fear that people would mock her, and she didn’t even tell her family for fear that they would not understand, which is exactly what happened.

Her family became hostile to her, so she decided to leave her hometown and start a new life elsewhere.

The aftermath

When her belly began to show and her family continued to be hostile to her, she decided to leave her hometown and join her elder sister in the Eastern province.

“I would have been mocked by people because they knew I prayed a lot,” she explained, adding that “even though they actually got to know that I was pregnant, I did not care because I was no longer there.”

She lived in the East, waiting to give birth; her life was difficult; she would have to rely on what her sister brought home to survive.

“You see, it was a difficult life for me because I finished school without a job,” she explained.

“The fact that I was pregnant and had been raped by someone I didn’t know added to my misery. I had a tailoring machine, but finding clients was difficult. My mental health was in shambles.”

She stated that she found it difficult to overcome her traumas because she couldn’t see the future clearly.

She eventually gave birth to a six-month-old daughter. Accepting the baby was difficult at first, but she claims that things are improving and that she is coming to terms with what happened.

Her most important lesson is that one should have trustworthy friends, because some friends, in her opinion, can ruin one’s life. So you have to “be wise”.

For the time being, she is focused on moving on with her life and growing both personally and professionally.

Victims have to help victims

Trauma from rape and assault, as well as serious illness, can be serious consequences of these situations.

According to Nzabonimpa Emmanuel, a researcher at the Community Based Socio-Therapy, CBS Rwand, while the country has made efforts to establish various laws to punish those who have done this, the role of various organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, is still required.

This researcher stated at a conference organized by the Clinical Psychology Students Association of Rwanda (CPSAR) that among the problems that young people face are assault and rape, which cause trauma to the victims.

He explains that the first step is to gather these victims and assist them in finding the strength within themselves to discuss their own experiences and regain hope through healing.

“Victims must reach a point where they can talk about it and share their experiences with other victims; this helps them feel like their lives are not over and that there are others who have survived the trauma,” he said.

“At Mvura Nkuvure, we have a program called ‘New Vision of Life,’ where we help people go beyond what they think about the future.”

A three-year study conducted by the Rwanda Investigation Bureau, RIB, in 2021 revealed that 13,646 children were sexually abused, mostly girls, with 392 boys constituting 2.9% of those raped by their peers.

This study also revealed that the majority of these sexually abused children are young people between the ages of 18 and 24.

Straight out of Twitter