By Laila Majiet
“The moment you make peace with your true self and acknowledge what happened to you, you can heal.” So says a 22-year-old rape survivor, Saleem Ryklieff.
It was a month before his 21st birthday. He had just come home from one of many first aid training sessions when it all unfolded outside his home in Grassy Park, Cape Town. It was around lunchtime, the Cape Flats suburb was calm and quiet.“I wasn’t observant as I opened the front door. The guy came behind me and pushed me into my home with a knife to my back. I panicked and was so paralyzed with fear that I didn’t even have time to push the panic button. I remember him taking me down the passage. He kept on telling me to look down.He made me undress with the knife still pushed against my back.I remember the pain and the grinding of my teeth as my face was pushed down into a pillow. I remember the hardness in his voice and the way he kept on saying “you deserve it “. I thought he was going to kill me.
All I could do was hope that I’d survive it. He took me out into our yard and hit me with a brick over my head, but not hard enough to knock me out. It was at that point as he ran away that I managed to press the panic button and call for help.”
Ryklieff, an Education student, was raped in his home and has since made a remarkable recovery following a long journey of healing.
He says while the perpetrator has not been caught there is not a day that goes by where he does not wish to look him in the eyes and say, “I forgive you.” “Being raped didn’t define me as a person. I did Two Landmark Courses and that helped me to pull through knowing I was not alone.
For a while I often felt sad, angry and depressed, in fear of going anywhere. But that feeling didn’t last forever. My support structure was phenomenal. I had friends and family that today I can express my gratitude to for being a part of my life during that journey.
A quote that always helps me when I need strength is: “And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to Blossom.” – Anais Nin
I look back and realize that I’m in a good space in my life right now, growing and finding myself. I am no longer a prisoner of my past.
Male rape is far more common than we think
South Africa is often described as the rape capital of the world, but what often goes unmentioned is the high incidence of male rape in this country. Male rape is extremely rife in South African prisons. It often goes undetected as victims lives are threatened by fellow inmates. This unfortunately highlights the grim lack of determination and will by the South African government to stamp out male-on-male rape. About one in 30 men (3.5%) in South Africa have been raped by a man, according to a study by the Medical Research Council. The study shows that almost 10% of South African men have experienced sexual violence by another man.
The findings presented at the annual Sexual Violence Research Initiative in Cape Town, are based on a household survey conducted among about 1,740 men in two of South Africa’s nine provinces – KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
According to the research published in 2009, more than one in three South African men admitted to having raped a woman – but little attention was paid to sexual violence experienced by men.
The South African Police Services Crime statistics for 2010/2011 has only recently classified male rape for what it is. Previously this offence was categorised as indecent assault.