Peter: I almost killed the man who sexually abused me

SEX ABUSE

Lack of effective sex education in our schools and at home is leaving thousands of innocent children vulnerable to sexual predators.

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 “I will go by the name Peter. I am in my mid-twenties. For many years, I hid behind the dark shadows of the brutality meted out against me in my childhood. My young mind didn’t quite understand what was happening at the time. But I knew it was wrong. It felt wrong. When I got older, I grasped the horror of what happened to me when I was six years old.  I am a victim of sexual abuse and this is my story.

I was born and raised in Murang’a County. We lived with my maternal grandparents and my mum’s seven siblings. Additionally, my grandparents took in three teenagers from one of our family friends to live with us. They blended right in as they were age mates with some of my uncles.

I was the baby of the house and enjoyed a lot of attention and care from our large family.

My grandparents were staunch Christians who ran a tight ship back then. For instance, sex was a taboo topic. In fact, the first time I heard of the word was during a Science class when I was about 12.

Before then, I didn’t know what sex was, let alone how it was performed or abused. Although I learnt about sex at 12, my first sexual encounter occurred when I was barely six years old.

 The memory of that first incident is blurry but I have some flashbacks of being forced to do some weird things.

Remember the three teenagers who were taken in by my grandparents? One of them, Eliud who was in his late teens, was the one forcing me to do these things.

The mind is interesting, how it keeps some memories crystal clear years after an incident happens.  One day, I came home from school and he forced me to perform oral sex on him. Another time he asked me to caress him. He never sodomised me, I think it was his way of making sure there was no physical proof of what he was doing to me. In retrospect, I realise this was part of his cold, calculated moves on me.

I blindly obliged to what he was telling me to do. I felt it was wrong even though I couldn’t explain what was wrong about it. Unfortunately, a part of me trusted that he was telling me to do something right, being an adult and all.

Eliud confused me even further by buying me treats and showing me how to ride a bicycle. He made me feel special, like I could trust him. Then after some time, he would make me do disgusting things and threaten me into silence.

His favourite threat was, “If you dare tell anyone about this, I will report you to your mother.”

I don’t know why this threat worked, but it did. I never uttered a word to anyone.

When I turned seven, Eliud left home. As the years went by, thoughts of what he had done to me began to fade away. Once in a while, especially after I learnt about sex, I thought about what I could have done differently. Perhaps I should have reported him, he was the one in the wrong. I began blaming myself for the abuse and felt stupid for not reporting him the first time he made me touch him.

At some point, I felt the urge to tell my mother what had happened. But immediately, another thought struck my mind. What if she didn’t believe me? What if they asked why it had taken me so long to report the incident? I feared I would be punished for speaking of such indecent things. I resolved to let bygones be bygones and swore to never breathe a word about the ordeal.

Shortly after I joined secondary school, I bumped into a familiar face. After exchanging pleasantries, I found out he was from my village. He was two classes ahead of me and we quickly became friends. He helped me adjust to the school environment and made sure I lacked nothing. It felt great, like having a big brother at school.

Then one night, a day before we broke for midnight, he came to my dormitory. I was already asleep as it was almost midnight. What woke me was a hand caressing my legs underneath the bed-covers. I sat up startled and turned to see who it was. There stood my friend, the guardian angel who made me feel safe at school and he stood there looking at me. Once my eyes met his, he beckoned me to follow him outside. The audacity!

I began shouting at him and he fled. When we came back from midterm, he made several attempts to lure me into sex. I threatened to report him to the school administration and this made him quit. I never reported him.

Although nothing happened with this boy from school, the ordeal triggered my childhood trauma. Once again Eliud came up in my mind and I began thinking of what had happened to me. Sexual abuse kept trailing me and the more I thought about it the more I felt bitter and hateful.

Facing Eliud

By the time I joined Form Two, I was a very disturbed young man. I didn’t care about anything, not even my studies. My grades deteriorated and my teachers and family couldn’t figure out what the problem was. They even got me into the guidance and counselling program at school but their efforts proved futile. I had taken a vow of silence on the sexual abuse and wasn’t about to confess to anyone what was truly ailing me. So the status quo remained.

One day, when I was in Form Three, I came home for the holiday and guess who had dropped in for a visit? Yes, Eliud. He was now home after nearly a decade.

A cocktail of emotions choked me as I looked at the man who had tormented me. Day and night, my bitterness and hatred had been directed to him like hot fiery darts. I wished him tremendous harm, silently cursing him every time his memories crossed my mind. Yet, nothing had prepared me for the shock of seeing him again.

Eliud was a pitiful sight, a distant cry from the agile man who taught me to cycle. He was frail and dirty, reeking of cheap liquor. He didn’t seem to recognise me at first, it took him a while to know who I was. I couldn’t help but wonder whether he remembered all the things he had done to me. Once again, I was flooded with an urge to spill the beans, but that incessant fear got the best of me. How would my family react? What if this destroyed our family ties with his family? Another feeling that was beginning to form in my mind was embarrassment. I was embarrassed of having been sexually abused.

Eliud had not come for a leisure visit. It was an intervention to help him deal with his drug addiction. This mission was cut short after Eliud ran away two weeks after his stay.

My revenge

One evening, during his stay, I was asked to serve him a glass of water. This was the moment I had been waiting for. You see, after getting over the shock of Eliud’s return, I came up with a plan to murder him and put an end to my own pain. For the past few days, I had been walking around with two sachets of rat poison waiting for an opportune time to get my revenge.

I quickly tore open both sachets, emptied them into a glass, filled it with water and stirred. Then I held the glass gingerly, preserving every drop of it and made my way to Eliud. My heart thudded in my chest as I got nearer to him. I panicked. I couldn’t go through with my plan, so I spilt the water and shuffled back to get him another glass.

This incident turned out to be my wake-up call. I realised I needed help urgently. My pent up emotions almost cost Eliud his life. I thought of what could have happened if my initial plan had succeeded. My life would have been ruined forever.

During that holiday, I stole Sh18,000 from my mother and when school resumed, I asked the guidance and counselling teacher to link me with a psychologist. I showed him the money and went ahead to narrate my story. The teacher was alarmed and wanted to involve my parents right away, but after a lot of begging and negotiation, he finally agreed to keep them out of this and help me, albeit hesitantly.

The decision to see a psychologist is one of the best decisions I have made in my life. The teacher facilitated in person and over the phone sessions with the psychologist. For the first time, I was able to say what happened to me all those many years ago. I began to feel a shift in the heaviness that had weighed me down for so long. Although the teacher and the psychologist insisted I talk to my family, at least my mother, about the sexual abuse, I remained adamant and told them I would do so when I felt ready.

Remember at the beginning when I asked to go by the name Peter? That is because I still find it difficult to talk about my abuse openly. None of my relatives knows about it.

Accident

 Eliud died in an accident about six years ago. He was drunk at the time. I attended his funeral, felt some tinge of remorse at how miserable his life had ended up. I saw his family cry for him, it made me feel sad in an odd way. I was glad I didn’t take him out with the poison because his death didn’t bring me any relief. But I have made peace with my past.

Although my family is in the dark, I have shared my story with a few friends and an online anonymous group. I feel like we live in a society which stigmatises men who talk about their sexual abuse, by viewing them as weak. It is rather unfortunate because men get abused, especially young boys.

Having my story on this magazine today is my nascent journey to speaking openly about sexual abuse. I know there are many young men who are struggling with what happened to them and I hope they get the courage to seek help.

To date, I can’t help but wonder,

had my parents given me age-appropriate sex education right from my childhood, could I have been better equipped to deal with Eliud, and perhaps even report his actions? I believe lack of effective sex education in our schools and at home is leaving thousands of innocent children vulnerable to sexual predators. ”

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