‘I ran away at age 7 to es­cape abuse’

CityPress - - News - NTOMBIZODWA MAKHOBA ntombizodwa@city­press.co.za

Pop­u­lar Metro FM talk show host Criselda Dudu­mashe has writ­ten a new book in which she re­veals how a fam­ily friend sex­u­ally abused her when she was seven years old.

Ti­tled You Are Never Alone, the book is an ac­count of Dudu­mashe’s life ex­pe­ri­ences and aims to help oth­ers who have been through trauma. In it she re­counts how her in­no­cence was stolen by a man she trusted – and, be­cause she was too ter­ri­fied to tell any­one, she ran away from home to be­come a street child.

Dudu­mashe spoke to City Press this week at the start of the 16 Days of Ac­tivism for No Vi­o­lence Against Women and Chil­dren cam­paign, say­ing it took her 10 years to write her life story be­cause she first wanted to heal and find the courage to share her story with “other wounded sol­diers”.

Af­ter years of ther­apy, she felt she was ready.

On Thurs­day, she told City Press the de­tails of how her or­deal un­folded. “Ev­ery day af­ter school, bhut’Jabu (not his real name) would call me into the bed­room, look me in the face, put his fin­gers in my vagina, ejac­u­late with­out pen­e­trat­ing, and once he was done, he would tell me how smelly I was, and that I must go clean my­self.” He would then buy her a Fanta Or­ange cooldrink and a red cake. “As a re­sult I don’t like red cake,” she said. “It be­came a rou­tine for me that ev­ery day af­ter school I be­came bhut’Jabu’s vic­tim. He re­peat­edly abused me.” She never told her fa­ther about bhut’Jabu. He will find out from her book. Even though she wanted to re­veal what was hap­pen­ing to her, bhut’Jabu once told her that if she told any­one, he would deny it. “Dad likes him,” she writes in her book. “He is our com­mu­nity’s role model; his fa­ther is a priest. I don’t stand a chance be­cause Dad will take his side.” When she could no longer bear what was hap­pen­ing, she ran away to live on the streets.

“It can’t get worse than bhut’Jabu and his mafiny­ila [slime], as I re­fer to his ejac­u­late. Noth­ing would stop me. I must get away as far as pos­si­ble, where he and his kind will never find me,” she writes.

“Fi­nally, I’m out of that house. I al­ready feel like I’ve moved away, though I know that if Dad were to come back, he would still find me. I’m not go­ing to think about it.”

She left home, aged seven, for a num­ber of weeks, with­out telling any­one. “I found my­self run­ning around in cir­cles, sleep­ing un­der high­way bridges. Learn­ing the value of card­board and plas­tic used as blan­kets. At some point I crossed a stream us­ing scrap metal as a boat,” she writes.

“I don’t think I did any­thing wrong. I just moved away from a painful sit­u­a­tion.”

Dudu­mashe said that was the most dif­fi­cult chap­ter to write. But, she added, de­spite every­thing she went through, she was never alone. “When I was hun­gry, some­one took care of me. There was umam’Ndlovu who brought me food, a jersey and takkies – but my new takkies were taken by the streets­mart kids be­fore I walked a mile in them. So I walked bare­foot.”

Dudu­mashe wrote the book to en­cour­age oth­ers to speak out against abuse and not keep dark se­crets from loved ones. “This book is the story of ev­ery woman who has been through so much but turned out to be a beau­ti­ful woman, like I am to­day. On this hurt­ful jour­ney I was never alone.”

OPEN­ING UP Criselda Dudu­mashe shares her story of child abuse for the first time

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