Tag Archives: WOUNDS HEAL

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE IN NAIROBI: A SURVIVOR’S STORY

I can’t believe I’m finally ready to write this post.

Shit. Fucking hell.

Here goes.

I was at a funeral last Friday. Another one.

Christ, I’ve seen so many families cry this year. Remember my January posts, this one, this one, and this one?

And, this post I wrote about my friend’s passing?

It’s like every month of this year, someone around me died or lost someone they loved.

The month of May was not spared the touch of death either.

My favourite cousin’s father died this month after a short illness, and our whole extended family traveled upcountry on Friday last week to pay our last respects and lay him to rest.

The funeral service was packed, we couldn’t even get inside the church to listen to the sermon. So many of us had to stand outside and listen to the proceedings from the blaring speakers.

He was a pastor, and you could tell that he had impacted a great number of lives while he was still amongst us. It was truly humbling to see that many people come to pay their last respects to a wonderful man.

My baby brother and I were outside during the service, busy chatting with the wife to one of my other cousins. We were just catching up, making jokes. We’d missed her after months of not being together.

And then, out of the blue, with the conversation between my brother, my cousin’s wife, and I getting funnier and louder, I saw him.

He had just walked into the compound, and he was probably looking for a familiar face when our eyes met.

My heart froze. I just looked at him, into his eyes, willing him, nay, daring him, not to come and say hallo.

He quickly looked away as he walked past us, but, I kept my eyes on him for five more seconds.

I was transfixed. I didn’t want to be the first to look away because a part of me wanted to show him I wasn’t scared any more.

Another part was just trying to comprehend if this really was the man that I remembered from so many years ago.

The other part was just trying to mess with his head. ‘Boy, I see you! Run!’

But, I needed to look away because every extra second was becoming unbearable for the little girl inside.

I was a bit frazzled after that, and I remember telling my brother that I was going outside to look for another family member.

Anything to ensure that I don’t come into any contact with this individual.

I think my baby brother understood immediately because as I started to walk away, he followed suit, leaving my cousin’s wife standing there confused by the abrupt end to our engrossing conversation.

Sorry, T!😥😥😪😪😫😫

She probably thought we were so rude. I did feel slightly guilty for dragging my brother along when I was the one with the problem.

Hope she didn’t think ill of my brother. He was just being a loyal sibling and friend.

For good reason too. He’s the only witness to what I am about to tell you.

Our history with this man I was avoiding now dates back twenty years ago.

Our birth mother had just passed away, and we were living with our aunty, Wahu, and her husband (mum and dad as we now refer to them) in their huge house.

At the time, dad’s ailing grandfather was also staying with them. He was a mean old man, but my brother and I (mostly me because I was the cheeky one) always found a way to make him laugh.

Owing to his age, and his deteriorating health, he needed a constant caregiver. We too needed a minder because we were still young, and our adopted parents had full time jobs.

Their youngest son, Sam, had just joined med school, so he wasn’t available to look after the three of us.

That’s when mum made the fateful decision to hire extra help from upcountry. One of dad’s relatives was struggling with school fees for his young kids, so mum decided to hire their eldest son in the hopes that he could use part of his earnings to educate his younger siblings.

He was a teenager when he came to work for the family. I think he was in his late teens at that time.

It worked out well for the first few weeks, if I remember correctly. My grandfather was happy with the arrangement because this was someone he knew, someone he could trust, and definitely someone he could order around (my granddad loved ordering everyone around).

My mum was happy because now there was someone to take care of the old man, my baby brother and I, the house and the yard.

Everyone was seemingly covered, and life became manageable again for my adoptive parents.

But, things weren’t so rosy if you peeked below the surface.

After he had acclamatized to his new surroundings, the nightmare began.

My mind has successfully blocked out most memories from this time, but this is what I do remember;

– the taste of his mouth from him forcefully kissing me whenever he’d find me alone in some part of the house

– screaming myself hoarse and wondering why no one could hear me everytime he’d pin me on my back and mess with my privates until it hurt (usually happened on Saturday mornings- we were home from school, and the house was usually empty)

– how painful it was to take a piss after he’d touch me down there

– my baby brother’s confused and scared look when he’d heard me screaming one time from our room only to run and find me pinned to my back, kicking and screaming, with the houseboy forcibly fondling me (He stopped when he noticed my brother was at the door)

– him twisting my wrists painfully or squeezing my hands everytime that I tried to resist him, or I refused to do as he said (like touch him down there, I was not a fan)

– I remember endlessly kicking him, punching him, scratching him, trying to get him away from me, and he would be smiling and laughing all the while as he held both my hands together tight with his one hand, use his free hand to abuse me, and use his lower body to keep my legs still.

To stop me from screaming, he would be suffocating me with his mouth (his idea of kissing)

– I remember how tired I would feel after every encounter, and how sore my wrists, my hands, my arms, my privates, and my legs would feel. My head would also ache from the screaming and the crying

– I also remember how stupidly defiant I was. I would insult and berate him (with the little English and Swahili I could master back then) after every episode knowing full well he was going to come after me again.

I would fight, and I think that’s where my violent streak comes from (Don’t worry, I’m much calmer now).

This is just the gist of the abuse that probably started in 1999/2000 and ended in 2001, to the best of my recollection.

There was never any penetration. Not that I can remember. I don’t think my mind would have been able to block that out.

I never told my mum. I never told my elder brother. I never told my best friend. I never told a soul until now as I narrate to you what I went through.

I don’t know what, if anything, my baby brother remembers but he must know something. We talk about everything else in our past except those two years this man was living with us.

If I remember correctly, the man left as soon as or slightly before my grandfather died. I was in class five, quiet, withdrawn, and yet highly attention-seeking when I was out of his reach. I think I just wanted someone to ask me what’s wrong.

No one ever did.

When it hit me that he wasn’t in our lives anymore, it’s like I awoke from a deep sleep.

I remember I started making friends in school. I began to actually focus on schoolwork and getting better grades. Like better grades to a point that I started receiving academic awards in class 6 and beyond.

Before that, my grades were sucky, and I would get into my fair share of trouble with my class teachers, Mrs Okumu (class 3) and Mr Nyambu (class 4).

I was exhibiting behavioural issues at this time that no one really latched onto.

But, now that he was gone, I was a whole new girl. Making friends became easier. My studies became easier. I was finally able to flourish.

I pushed the memories of that time down so deep, and for years, I couldn’t allow myself to think about it.

Then I started writing this blog, and I began to see how events in my childhood had almost messed me up completely.

And, I began to realise the power and the healing that comes from writing about them, not so much for people to read, but for me to acknowledge my pain, and to be open and naked enough to show others where the wounds were.

It was easier to talk about my mother’s suicide, my father’s abandoning us, my dalliance with depression, drugs, and sex in my previous posts than it was talking about the sexual abuse.

But, I knew one day, I’d have to. It’s part of the journey in shaping my own narrative devoid of the horrific things that happened to me, to us, when my brother and I were kids.

Yap, that’s it!

In memory of the little girl I was before this, and in solidarity with the millions of children abused in our country, Kenya.

💜♥️💖💜♥️💖💜♥️💖💜♥️💖

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FORGIVING YOUR FATHER FOR HIS PAST MISTAKES

‘How are you today Kui, it’s still Fathers day’

That was on 17th June 2018 at 6:35pm. This was a message from my biological father on this year’s father’s day. Here’s what I wrote back:
‘Hahaha heeeey daddy…sorry for not wishing you earlier, ndio tunatoka kanisa…happy father’s day dad, you’re a fun and amazing father and I love you with all my heart’

And then he replied,
‘Thanks, wish u the best.’

He is such a dude! What kind of reply is that? Hahaha. But, I love him, and I love this big forehead he gave me although I hide parts of it most of the time. (It’s humongous; it has sections and sub-sections).

When I used to live with him after campus, I used to joke that I would sue him because of the forehead. I mean, I’m a girl, I should not have such a big forehead. It does not make sense. Kids and adults have made fun of me all of my life for a variety of reasons, the biggest one being this forehead. Hence, his actions (siring me knowing full well that he passed on this big forehead gene) have directly caused me great emotional turmoil, and thus he needs to pay me as compensation.

I’m sure you’re wondering about the other reasons. I’ll tell you in the spirit of being open and vulnerable. I’ll even arrange them in chronological order. I am super short, my voice sounds like a cartoon character, I look, sound and sometimes act like a pubescent, despite the fact that I am three years shy of 30, I have a mustache (it’s small but it was a big deal in primary school), and nowadays, I never seem to grow, fat or otherwise.

I also used to have the tendency to talk a lot when I was growing up. People at home used to call me ‘kasuku’. Thank God they stopped! I also couldn’t lie very well (I still can’t), so it was really difficult trying to keep secrets or covering up for someone, no one trusted me in that household, not even the woman who was raising me.

Wahu (the beautiful woman who raised me; my real mother’s elder sister) credits herself for reigning in my disruptive talkative nature, which is true.

Back to Nderitu. I lived with him briefly for almost a year and a half after I cleared campus. This decision did not go down so well with Wahu and her husband (my other dad). They saw it, understandably so, as a betrayal. They were pained by the fact that I would still choose him over them; over all of the sacrifices they had made to raise me and my brother.

He never helped in our upbringing. He never paid fees (he only began contributing to my brother’s fees when he was in university), he never took us to the hospital, he never worried about what we were wearing, or if we were happy. He only came once to see us when we were growing up, and I was in upper primary by that time. He was a pariah in our house, and no one even said his name. That part hurt because I missed him, I wanted to know him. I think the most painful part about this entire fiasco is the fact that he never claimed us or my late mom. I do not even know if he contributed to my mother’s funeral expenses. His folks refused my mother to be buried in their land in line with our customs, and my mother’s family was pissed.

My parents, my mother, Wahu, did all of those things that my dad was supposed to do but never did. This couple stepped in and loved us with everything they had, with everything they were.

It was hard. My mother’s suicide was difficult on every single one of us. It was difficult for my loving adopted parents because they loved her, they adored her. They considered her their eldest child. It was difficult for my amazing elder cousins, who are now my brothers because they had lost their best aunt. They had grown up with that woman, she was a part of them. She was a part of their family, and now she was gone forever.

It was also difficult for my grandparents because they had lost their baby, their last-born. They were also very poor and very old, and could not imagine raising two babies on their own.

The death was hard. But the way it happened made it even more inconsolable. Everyone was at a loss, but my dad never stepped up when he should have, the way he should have. And that went on for years until almost finally we had forgotten he existed. The trauma of my mother’s death was buried deep within us, and we were almost finally happy. We were moving on together as a strong unit.

I had formed an incredible bond with Kamande, Wahu’s husband. I think he’d always wanted a girl, and then I mysteriously showed up. If anyone in that house, including Wahu herself, wanted Kamande to buy something, I would be the de facto person to talk to. I could make things happen hahaha.

And my baby brother was the baby of the house, and he went from a fear-struck little boy to a seemingly happy one. He was mummy’s baby through and through (and the situation has never changed). We were exceptionally close to Mwangi, the last of Wahu and Kamande’s biological sons. He is 10 years our senior, but we had so much fun growing up together, it is unbelievable. He taught us almost everything we know and use today because he was Wahu’s sidekick when it came to raising us. I will have to dedicate an entire article to how amazing of a brother this man was and is.

Despite the trauma we had gone through when we were barely out of kindergarten, we now had a family. We were in a unit that worked. Our needs were being met through the bonds we had formed in this unit, and life was good. Our entry into their lives brought a major financial strain but everyone was working in their own way to make this work, under the good leadership of Wahu, and for a while things were quiet.

And then, Nderitu came back, and all hell broke loose. He sent us a Christmas letter one year, with his address and phone number (that he has never changed). My parents were pissed off, and I think they were scared. They were scared we would choose him, and that this bond we had spent years creating, this bond we were all invested in, would break apart. They were scared to be just placeholder parents; they wanted to be more, and they wanted the sacrifice they had made to mean more. Because they had given it their everything.

Communication between us and my biological father continued to grow stronger while I was in campus. The exact opposite was happening between me and the parents who raised me. I had demons, strong demons, and they couldn’t help me. Every time I was home, I felt stifled. Every time I was in school, I felt scared and invisible. I developed an alcohol addiction just to ease the discomfort in myself. I also smoked a lot. My parents were losing me and they did not know how to stop it.

I was rebelling against them, but it was more than just that. Even after successfully managing not to kill myself, I still couldn’t find my place with them, and in this world. Internally, I was still being haunted. I had all this noise, all this anger, all these mommy and daddy issues that had been piling up and multiplying since my mother’s death, and I was taking it out on them. Our relationship was at its breaking point, and I needed to run away. And I did, first to a boyfriend’s house and then finally, to Meru.

They couldn’t believe it, I couldn’t believe it. In my head, it seemed we were enemies now. We went for months without talking to one another. It was that hostile! I think at that point, I had made so many mistakes in my life, I just wanted to start over. Meru seemed the ideal place, next to my dad, and I thought that would help fix the conflict inside. I thought of him as my hero and my parents as the villains.

I didn’t know it at that time but I wanted to understand what went wrong between him and my mum. I wanted closure, and I had questions that only he could answer. I wanted to form a bond with him because I felt linked to him. I wanted so badly to be owned, to belong authentically to someone because I thought that was what was missing. I thought that was the reason I was unhappy.

For some reason, he still felt like home even though I had not seen him for decades. Even though everyone was telling me he abandoned me and my baby brother after my mum’s death, I felt safe and I felt warm when I was there. At that point in my life, that is exactly what I needed.

I went there with the wrong intentions (to piss my parents off), but that decision has changed my life. I got to know him, some of the questions I had were answered. We began a relationship that I feel has been integral in helping me heal my wounds (self-inflicted or otherwise). I’m at peace with his decisions, even though these decisions have burdened us with further psychological issues. He was wrong, and he does not make any excuses for how reckless and selfish he was. He has been terribly sorry. It felt amazing when he opened up to us about his relationship with my late mom. Finally, the pieces were fitting into place, and the haze and confusion were slowly fading away. I no longer feel like that abandoned kid because he finally stepped up and filled that hole he had created. I loved getting to know him.

He owns and operates a couple of wines and spirits in Meru. He is a very good businessman and a creature of habit. Even when I am this far from him, I can accurately tell you where he is at this exact moment. He looooooooves routines, just like I do, and he loves to read, just like my baby brother and I. And just in case you are wondering why I am so talkative, I finally came to realize that I got it from him, although he pretends to be so serious and reserved. He’s also a big kid inside.

I love his laugh, especially when he has had a few drinks. He finds everything funny, and it is infectious! And I am his kryptonite, I know it. He won’t admit it, but I know it.

I also know that as much as he is my biological father, and that he is a wonderful dad, I have parents. I have a family. He’ll always be a part of me, but I’m also a part of something way bigger, something complete.

Wahu and Kamande mean the world to me, and no one will ever take their place. No one can even come close. They are my mum and dad. And it took me almost breaking their hearts for me to realize I belong to them in every sense of that word. I am theirs. They are the best gift I have ever received.

But, it’s really cool to have two dads. I’m just glad everything worked out the way it has, and that I don’t feel guilty about loving either. I have a big heart and everyone has a place in it.

Cheers to amazing dads!! (and I’m sorry for this overwhelmingly long post).