Rape is one of those words which makes every woman shake with horror. Sexual abuse in any form is highly negative for any person’s growth and development. Anyone who goes thorough the trauma of being sexually abused or raped, finds it difficult to move on in life. The scar of abuse leaves deep impact on the person’s mind hampering his normal life. But here’s the story of an extra-ordinary lady named Leyonie Marais who survived multiple sexual abuses from both known and unknown people and the trauma of being raped by her beloveds. She is a true warrior as she not only survived all this, but also forgave her perpetrators. Unbelievable! Isn’t it? Read the story of this Wonderful Woman written by herself!
I am a Survivor…
I was born raised in Johannesburg, Eldorado Park. My story starts as a five-year-old witnessing endless domestic violence. My dad was jealous and abusive; he would beat my mom every other day. He died when I was six-year-old of a heart disease. When I was thirteen years old, I started developing as a young lady; I was sexually abused by a family member. At fourteen I was sexually molested by our school caretaker. At fifteen I was raped by a family member in our home, in my room on my bed. At sixteen I was molested by a stranger in a taxi at gun point. Later that year I was molested again by another stranger on a train. At this point I despised men and myself too. I hated the mere sight of myself, could not bear looking at myself. At twenty-one I was raped by none other than my boyfriend!
Things started spiraling out of control for me on every dimension of my life.
I blamed myself every encounter. I believed it was my fault. Maybe if I was not in my night dress when I was thirteen, maybe my family member would not have violated me. Maybe if I wasn’t wearing jeans that night in the taxi or the train I would not have been violated. But I said no, I said no six times; repeatedly. These men were all older and stronger than me. One threatened to kill my grandmother. Surely, I count not speak out, I must be quiet or my granny dies. I was a rebellious, bitter teenager walking around with resentment and unforgivingness. I was a walking time bomb. One day I had a black out in a doctor’s room, woke up in hospital and was told I would never conceive a child.
That was the last straw. I felt God abandoned me.
I could not understand how the God my mom introduced me too, could be so amazing and still allow all this to happen to me. How can I describe Him as amazing and loving?
There was lots of talk on forgiveness. Everyone kept telling me I had to forgive. I couldn’t. In fact, I refused to forgive. Forgiving them meant I was okay with what they did to me. I could not bring myself to forgive.
I started reading books to take away the war in my head and the bitter coal taste in my mouth. When I read Joyce Meyer’s Beauty For Ashes, I realized it is time to forgive. I started praying for this every day (difficult at first), after a while it became my reality, praying for them, asking God to help me forgive them, release them also forgive myself. I had to find myself, love myself and grow to a point of understanding that being violated had nothing to do with me or what I wore when I was violated. It was about these individuals who were all sick and poured it out on me. I then set up meetings with those I knew and could reach. Letting them know that I forgive them. Some were dismissive and flabbergasted that I called them out. One conversation went better than I expected. When I told one man “I forgive you,” his response was: ”how could you forgive me?”
I said:” Raping me was about you but forgiving you is not just about me. It is about me, my future husband, my unborn children (even though they say I can’t have any), their children and most importantly, it is about every woman I will encounter in my walk of life. Everyone who I will have to steer through this same dark tunnel I have been through.”
He sobbed like a baby.
Forgiveness became my way of life, my beacon of hope because I realized by forgiving I gave myself a gift by releasing them, I set myself free. My healing started, the war in my mind has come to an end; the bitter coal taste in my mouth has gone. I felt free, looking at myself I saw beauty. I traded my ashes for beauty.
Years later I met an amazing man, we got married and we’re celebrating sixteen years of marriage.
God restored my womb and blessed me with four amazing children; I call them my arrows.
I was once broken but I am restored. I was a victim, but I am a survivor. I survived for myself, my husband, my children, their children and for you (yes you!). I could not give up, I had to push through, I had more to lose than other rape victim; I had to survive for them. If I did not forgive I would not have been healed.
Forgiveness made me whole.
I am Leading Lady Leyonie, I am not ashamed of my scar, it is a reflection of God’s Grace.
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