Hypersexuality is a common response to sexual assault/rape, yet we rarely speak about it. It wasn’t until 2018, after years of invalidating my trauma, that I learned that my hypersexuality was a normal and valid coping mechanism to rape.
I was raped the first time at 13 by an older guy I had rejected twice for asking me to be his girlfriend. His interest in me was a surprise as I was a nerdy girl who wore long dresses and skirts, prescribed by my family to keep boys at bay. The long skirts didn’t protect me that day.
I was on my way home from the shop when he blocked me from passing him unless I went to his house close by. No amount of protest could save me, so I obliged. He raped me and my body went into shock. I couldn’t scream, fight or do anything. It felt like an out-of-body experience, like I was watching and urging the girl on the bed to do something but she couldn’t. He let me go and never bothered me after that.
I had no time to process what happened, nor had any desire to talk about it. I got home and pretended to be in a jovial mood like the rest of them. I knew that I would be blamed if I had said something. I just wanted to forget; to be normal.
My new normal was absolute turmoil. Several weeks after that, I met a man, let’s call him Rat because he gnawed at my soul until there was barely anything left. I use “met” loosely as I do not understand how the meeting happened. I can’t tell you if it was a sunny or rainy day, or how the conversation started, or where. I have no memory of it to this day. What I remember is that he was in control of me, my body, for the rest of 2007.
He posed as a boyfriend so no one would ask questions. It’s crazy how no one saw a problem with a grown-ass man following a 13-year-old. There was no escaping him as he would wait for me at the school gate. If I used another route, I’d find him waiting close to my home. I wasn’t his only victim. He raped other girls and kept a black book of his deeds. His niece also wasn’t spared.
My behaviour changed at school. I became opposite to the girl who was quiet and a loner. I spiralled out of control and that’s when I allowed the boy I shared a desk with to touch my thighs and later, my vagina. I hated my body so much that I no longer cared what anyone else did with it.
One teacher intervened and got me some help, which was inadequate. Rat was still in control until my family sent me to my paternal home in another province. For the first time in eight months, he had no access to me.
I slipped into depression as the years went by. In 2012, I started getting into situationships. I could get my fix (sex) as much as I wanted without the need to feel anything. At first, I hated being touched by a man, but sex was my only escape, one that was accessible. I’d have sex with tears in my eyes, but it got me through the day or week.
When I enjoyed it, I felt guilty as that was against my idea of dealing with rape which was sadness and the despise of sex. I had it often and became the adventurous hoe, as I often called myself.
Normal sex was no longer enough. I got no thrill from it. I experimented with S&M. I could enjoy it again. The more painful it was, the more bruises I had, the easier I could get some sleep and relief from sadness.
In 2017, after I lost my job, I got into a leadership programme which meant that I had to spend a month away from home. I wasn’t yet acquainted with any potential sexual partner, so I turned to alcohol. It started with a glass of a day, then a bottle.
In the second week, I found someone to have sex with and another… I could pacify my demons and stay afloat for the duration of the programme.
One night I was drunk after a trip. I’d planned to have sex with a guy I had befriended. I let him into the hotel room and told him I was drunk. Next thing I remember was waking up with my top still on, but the shorts I was wearing were on the floor.
I panicked, ransacked bins in the room to see if he had at least used a condom. He had. I called him, left texts that he ignored until the afternoon of the next day. I confronted him and he admitted to putting me on the bed after falling on the floor when we kissed, then blamed me for having no memory of the night.
I was in denial at first, but I didn’t consent. I felt like I had betrayed myself again. The 13-year-old who couldn’t fight. It was as if I was attracting rape because it happened again or someone would attempt it.
In 2018 I sought help and realized that what I called sexual liberation was in fact self-harm. Sex made me feel powerful, like I was finally in control of my body until that drunken night reminded how fickle that was.
I’m in a better headspace and continue to work on healing. Sometimes it’s easy, other times, unbearable. I choose whom has access to my body and when, but as a woman living in South Africa, the rape capital of the world, I am reminded daily that that choice might be taken away from me… again without consequences.