Wednesday, 18 October 2017

#metoo one night in PE

The #metoo campaign on social media has affected me deeply. 
Not only the obvious paradigm of predominantly white middle-class profiles and the spill-out from the Hollywood sludge, but the millions of those who are not hash-tagging their wounds. The truly voiceless.

I have been an activist and campaigner for social justice most of my life. Being born a white South African in the apartheid years gave me a wonderful and terrible soul-field to meet the best and worst of humanity. A childhood fragmented with trauma in a land marked with violation and violence, I have pursued all through my life, the path toward healing. Not only for those around me, but myself.

I know the power of Truth-Speak, of bringing light to the unloved and shamed aspects of ourselves in order to heal.  Why then has it been so hard for me to talk of this? This event that happened almost 24 years ago, one night in a PE Hotel.

High and happy as the carpet toward our liberation was being rolled out, unexpectedly nominated to the ANC National Parliament, I was invited to sing at a dinner hosted by leading South African sports bodies and representative officials. As I recall, there were not many other women present. It was a successful performance and as I was leaving a man struck up conversation with me. He was pleasant and entertaining. Danny Jordaan. I accepted his invitation to join him for a drink at the bar, but said I needed to go up to my suite and change from my performance dress. 
He joined me in the lift and said he would wait for me. I felt a little uneasy as he entered my suite, but beckoned him into the lounge and asked him to wait there while I changed.
I entered my bedroom, closed the door and began to change. A few minutes later the door opened and he entered and without a word grabbed me and forced me onto the bed from behind. He overpowered me and painfully raped me. It must have been over in about 20 seconds although it felt like a lifetime.
He left immediately without saying a word.

I was in a state of complete shock and pain. Bewildered. Not sure what to do. I washed and left the hotel and began to walk. 
I reached the beach and sat there a very long time trying to process what had happened. The thought of going to the police felt intolerable. 
What would I say? 
Should I have screamed louder? 
Fought him off harder? 
Had I been complicit in some way? 
All these questions raged in my mind. 
I wept. As the night faded into a golden dawn, I became aware of a small group of white-clad Zionists  making their way along the shore. 4 women and a man, clad in their white starched robes with green sash. Some women in blue. I watched as they neared the shore and then one by one entered the water. The man took each of them into the waves. I watched as they disappeared and emerged again.
I found myself wading into the water close by.
'Come!' he called.
I went toward him. His smiling face like a god of the sea. The women moved all around me. Hands and arms they held me like a child. They pushed me beneath the waves and then lifted me again and again. It was like dying and being born at the same time. 
I know the baptism I received in the waves of the Indian Ocean, held by these great souls of Africa, was a sacred healing no trauma counselling nor police procedure could provide.
I walked back to the hotel in my wet clothes, hair dripping.

It was not easy meeting Jordaan in the breakfast area of the Hotel. He disappeared as soon as I arrived. I would see him at many political gatherings thereafter, in the corridors of the parliament, in our caucus. He would never meet me in the eye. Slide away as fast as possible.

Why am I disclosing now? 
Partly because we need to understand how hard it is to come forward and speak out. Even for those of us who can move mountains when it comes to activism, political and social engagement, cultural creation, performance on stages. It has been hard to come out with the truth. Why? 
Because somewhere there is a template of shame and wrong-doing, a thought that it was my 'fault'
And that I no longer need in my life. 
Survivors of abuse do not need to feel any shame, anymore.We are not to blame. We are not guilty of anything.

I want my sons, my partner, my male friends to be empowered in the language of sexuality. To know that you need to ask if it's OK? And ask again, just to be sure. 
To beware of objectifying. In this age where young people are exposed to not only the highly seductive objectification of sex online, but pornographic extremities are now becoming the norm.
My rapist used me as an object for his sad need for power and twisted gratification. I was not a person to him. Where men in leadership positions, from the Presidential Office down, political leaders, liberation fighters, headmasters, teachers, priests,sports captains, have all been entrusted with power, yet it is especially in these terrains that there is a concentrated and distorted culture of abuse. This needs to be changed. The abuse needs to stop!!!

A male South African friend whom I called today in the centre of the storm said:
'It is good you are doing this.
Help the brothers to heal.
Help the brother to heal.
Help us all to heal.'

I am not speaking out to get revenge on Danny Jordaan or a million South African men like him. I am doing this so we can help each other be courageous, speak out and begin to heal as we find we are not alone. I know there are many of us out there.



60 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thank you Kevin. Those few words mean a lot to me right now.

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  2. So very sorry for your ordeal. It is good that you speaking out. There are a group of men that think it's their political right to use and abuse women and walk away as if nothing happened. To us it's a big deal because women are emotional beings. We cannot understand this behaviour hence the self blame. I wish you healing. I wish you expose him. He will not stop until he's exposed. It might be more difficult for you but by speaking out you safe many other women.

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    1. Thank you Shirley. I have reason to believe that other women have been abused by him.

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  3. I am so sorry that this happened to you. I believe you and I salute you

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  4. I am so sorry for that horrible experience that you had to endure.

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  5. I believe you ❤may you find healing and welcome to the survivors with swag club❤

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    1. with swag...I like that :) Thank you dear sista of inspiration.

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  6. Darling -a Times Media newspaper female journalist called me today. I told her to speak directly to you. I was appalled by her "sensationalist" approach and I condemned her calling me. She seems to have taken her post off my Messenger, after I cautioned her about her approach her no is +27 (71) 8687594

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  7. I believe you✋for being so brave girl! May the Lord of great mercies send you eternal healing and peace.receive my love!

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  8. Well done Jennifer! I’m glad you found the inner strength and resolve to speak of your awful experience- which you did so eloquently. I hope that now other women can free themselves by your example! May you continue to live a happy, healthy and rewarding life. I salute you!

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  9. Thank you. From the midst of your pain you share such hard won wisdom. You are so right about the deep, subtle complexities of women shaming. And the deeply corroding effects of toxic masculinities. We need to find ways of fanning the small sparks of hope (such as the campaign to empower school girls and boys in Nairobi slums to healthful gender relations) into walls of healing flame.

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  10. There is no reason not to believe the simple authenticity of this story. This is the horror and disgrace of our male chauvinist world. And the shame of so called leaders like Danny. Well done for speaking out. Please women follow this example and speak and speak and speak again.

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  11. I believe you, from a 56 year old South African woman who had a similar experience.

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  12. I hope that you will have peace. I know that with your exposure there will be a mad taking of your experience, some questioning this truth or your motives, others trusting you and finding strength in it. May you stand firmly in your powerful core with your strength and the love of your friends and familiy available to hold you when you need it.

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  13. I believe you, from a 56 year old South African woman who had a similar experience.

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  14. Hello Jennifer.I have just heard you speaking on 702. Your resounding strength is an inspiration for change . Thank you

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  15. I have seen the pain in your eyes my sister... also heard the forgiveness in your voice. So proud of you! Next time I will hold and hug you just a little longer and let silent tears do the talking... Stay brave Jenna and I'll throw a little stone in the river for you today.

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  16. I beleive you. I hope that talking about this will help you heal.
    I also hope that you will find the strength to lay criminal charge against the perpetrator

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  17. you have the suppprt of those who honour your life's work and speaking out at this time. You are an inspiration for not letting power have the last word.

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  18. I believe you, it also happened to me when I was 5 or 6 years old (he was a relative, his sister was and still married to my uncle), 14 (two men from my community - I'm glad they are dead now) and 17 (my classmate) years old.

    All my rapists were not reported to the Police.

    Thanks for sharing your story.

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  19. Thank you for having the courage to speak out. You are empowering other women who may have felt they were alone with their emotional pain

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  20. Thank you thank you thank you. I believe you and I know how gut wrenchingly difficult it is to name your abuser publicly. I hope with every ounce of my soul that more survivors come forward and name them. Huge hugs and love to you. May your brave account help your healing. Xxx

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  21. You have made a courageous and important stand Jennifer. Strength and love to you.

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  22. As a young male African, a father and a leader, I just hope that this might be a thing of the past in our society. I just hope such heinous acts of insensitivity are no longer prevalent in our society! I believe you Jennifer

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  23. Dear Jennifer. I am a South African reporter and I am also saying I believe you. My country is experiencing a spike in sexual violence against women and children. There are two conferences I know of today that will be adopting strategies to counter this scourge. I have written to Mr Jordaan and am as keen to talk to you. I have sent you a request on Messenger. I am planning to host a discussion later today on this subject. Again, I believe you

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    1. A spike in sexual violence? Or a spike in the reporting thereof because the victims are no longer too afraid to speak out? I hope the latter, and salute the victims that are coming forwards.

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    2. Dear Buntu, sorry to respond so late. I have been inundated. But happy to talk with you at a later stage? email:
      jennifergusongs@gamil.com

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  24. Thank you for speaking out. I'm sure he has done this to other women

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  25. I believe you. Your voice is adding the swelling tide of "No more, no more"! You are a warrior among women.

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  26. I am a Man
    Living with the scar of abuse from a young child
    Physical Trauma and sexual trauma, that has ruled over my thoughts for over 30 years.

    I didn't know how to say enough, NO or share my story and as a result I am a slave to mistrust and betrayal, addictions and self loathing.

    I have taught my daughter that NO for the simplest thing, albeit to me or anyone, should be a FIRM NO and that assertion should never be questioned or persuaded to change.

    Do not cast judgement for those who do not present their voice and do not lack empathy for both the perpetrator or the victim.

    Rather display empathy as both are actual Victims of a numb society too mixed up with dulled values and a sensitized moral compass.

    NO is NO whether you are a Man or a Women and anyone reflecting their own pain through acting horrifically or traumatically to another NEEDS to be accountable and needs help not judgement.

    I feel the pain of these terrible things and I do not and will never condaone any act that is so invasive or traumatic against another human.

    I solute you Jennifer and hope more people understand your message, rather than focus on the People concerned.

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    1. I am sad and disturbed to read your story. I am moved that you are empowering your daughter. I hope you find healing. You, as a male victim of abuse are very much part of this conversation. Thank you for sharing.

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  27. I admire your calm courageous attitude. I can imagine the roaring emotional roller coaster ride you have been through Jennifer. Much respect to you for bringing this to the fore. May your healing start now and know you are in our prayers...

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    1. That is a great comfort to know we are held in prayer. Please continue to do so. The ordeal is not over by any means....in deep thanks
      Jennifer

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  28. Love and Light... I salute your courage.

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  30. I don't cry easily. I cried after reading every word of what you went through.This will remain with me forever, it will be my conscience. It will rightly haunt me. Urge me to act the love and care for all women I come across.

    It is a mirror every man must always look at every time. To remind us to love and care for every woman and not hurt or harm them. Women are life, if you harm or hurt them hurt life itself.

    I am with you,I am you.

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    1. Thank you for your tender heart Molebatsi. May our world heal as we heal ourselves...

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  31. I believe you Jennifer.
    Speaking out is not easy. I came to terms with what happened to me on a 'date'; now classified as Date Rape. This was when I was a mere 18 or 19 years old.
    I was inivted out by what I thought was a male friend; a well known lawyer in the small town that I lived.
    What transpired was nasty and I felt that I was to blame, from the torn blouse to the bruising.
    It was only years later that it came out that this is date rape; but who was I to speak out about this 'well respected lawyer' and pillar of the community.

    It is time we, as rape survivors, stand up and be counted.
    Blessed Be
    Love and Light

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    1. I am sorry to read of your experience. Date Rape happens often when one is most open and trusting. A deep violation. Sending you healing and blessings...

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  32. Troubling me that people are saying "I believe you Jennifer". There was never any question.

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  34. Hello Jen, I'm so glad you spoke of this at last. I remember all those years ago - so many, what is it? 16? - that you spoke of this in your kitchen. Much love to you.

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  35. brave Jennifer , i believe you. John Nankin

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  36. Dear Jennifer, When I was finishing school in JHB, I met you. It must have been 1986 - 1988. I would come and listen to you sing at every opportunity. You inspired me then, and you inspire me now. I believe you. I am not sure you remember me, it has been more than 30 years. But it is wonderful to hear your strong voice again.
    Yael (Joffe)

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    1. I remember Yael! Thank you for this lovely memory! Blessings to you...

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