When I was 6 years old, my mother left me with her sister because she was working far away from home. I had to live with my aunt and her three-year-old daughter.
It was decided that our neighbour from our home village would also come to live with us in town in order to take care of us. We started well and there was no problem, until one day she showed her true colours.
She made me do all the things she was supposed to do. I had to wash dishes, sweep the house and bath my cousin. If I didn’t do it well, she would beat me.
Sometimes she even choked me with a pillow. This happened for a long time. I did all her work and at the end of the day she would threaten me, saying if I opened my mouth to talk about it, she would kill me. I turned into a very sad child.
Because of this, I wanted to seek for revenge .When I was 11 years old, I met her daughter and every time I saw her, I would make sure to hurt her.
When I was nine years old, I was abused by a stranger. He just came to the school and pretended that he needed help. His car was stuck by the river. A lot of us went to help him, but on the way, many turned back to school, and I ended up with only one other girl. I kept on saying I wanted to go back and that’s when he took out a knife and said if we screamed, he was going to kill us and leave us there and no one would know where we were. He then abused us.
I grew up with anger towards men. I used to think that they were all the same and I aimed to hurt men since this was what the man had done to me. I started drinking alcohol at the age of 17. I felt unworthy and I thought I did not have value in life, so I started living in night clubs and bars.
I would just sneak out of the house and go partying and there I would play with men. I would take their money and I would make sure I disappeared. I knew in the end they would want to be paid back. I went from one bar to another. I was naughty at school and I did not care about anything. I was a bully. I used to bully other students and even the teachers at school.
No one knew about my past until I came to church. I always looked for deliverance not only from this torment but from my self accusation about all that had happened.
I told God that I was broken and I needed him so much. Before I knew it, I was delivered from my past. I had peace of mind. I was free at last! The thoughts of my past can come back, but they do not hurt me any more. I started seeking God in my life and I was converted. I changed the way I looked at myself and I saw life in a different way.
Lebo since then has become a survivor of abuse and has volunteered to help other women out of the self pity and self blame. She is one of our Save a Tamar counsellors in Gauteng.