“When he was asked why he abused me as a kid he simply said because it was done to him, he thought it was the normal thing to do. As a child, I didn’t understand what that even meant. I remember instantly feeling sorry for him and not wanting to press charges because I felt like he had already suffered enough, but I never understood why he would inflict the same pain he went through on another person. Then I learned another simple truth ‘hurt people hurt people.’”
Above is an excerpt from Amanda Tayte-Tait’s book, “At What Age Does My Body Belong to Me?” I am sure that those that take the time to read this book will relate to the terrifying issues that she brings to the fore, from rape to suicide to alcoholism.
Amanda spoke to The Weight She Carries about how she has had to figure out who she is after facing traumatic situations.
I am Amanda Tayte-Tait, yes it repeats twice, a feminist, human rights activist, writer and media entrepreneur. I was born in Kwekwe and grew up in Harare after my parents were divorced. Because of our financial situation, I later had to move to Bulawayo during my O-levels and due to the language barrier, I had to be home-schooled until later moving back to Harare in Advanced level.
I remember that when I was about 6 years old, I was sexually abused by the person who was supposed to be taking care of me. Because I was so young, I did not even have an explanation for what was happening to me. I had no words to describe what was going on. The abuser told me that it was a game and not to tell anyone about it. During that, I confided in my cousin brother who was also going through the same thing. We both felt weird about it but could not say anything to anyone.
Eventually, my family found out through my boyfriend, who I had confided in. Everything went crazy at that point. A blame game went on between my father and mother. My mother even had to travel to South Africa to confront the person. The police got involved.
I was barraged with questions, ‘are you sure there was penetration?‘ being a pretty consistent one. I did not know what the word even meant at the time. ‘Are you sure you want to ruin this person’s life?‘ Even at that point, I did not understand what rape and abuse was.
Questions upon questions until I just froze and went silent. I was scared. The questions created so much doubt. A lot of people did not even believe me and some still don’t. Despite my abuser admitting to what he did, there would be questions like are you sure you were not just playing? Or are you sure you didn’t like it? And so, I just went silent.
In Form 2, I met a 19-year-old boy who seemed to understand my ordeal. I confided in him [about] everything that had happened. I told him of my fear of rejection. My biggest fear was being judged for not being a virgin even if it wasn’t my fault. In our culture, one has to be a virgin when they get married, but now that I was not one, I feared that no one would want to marry me.
Later on, he would use this same thing against me. He turned on me and raped me, stating that no one would want me anyway. As it happened, I remember every single detail of what happened. I remember crying, wanting him to stop. Afterwards, he acted as if it was love and that he was doing me a favour.
It broke me. It changed my outlook on life. I was afraid to tell anyone, fearing that they would react the same way they did the first time. I blamed myself because I stayed with him for 10 months because I was scared to leave. He was emotionally abusive and controlling. [He] constantly told me that no one else would love me. Thankfully through a chance encounter, I eventually had the courage to leave him. I detail it all in my book.
Amanda went on to discuss her healing process.
It has been a long and ongoing process, from attempted suicide, drugs, alcohol and friendships. The pain does not really go away and triggers are just everywhere. I faced a major trigger last year. It was unexpected. I am at a point now that I can speak out about it rather than sweep issues under the rug. One thing I know is that no matter how dark it may be, it does get better.
I am writing a memoir series because I cannot encompass 25 years of love, beauty, healing and figuring out who I am in just one book. I can truly say that I love who I am now and who I am growing into and who I am becoming. I am excited to find out what the future holds for me.
Amanda has since written her second memoir “24 and Reclaiming My Body.” Follow link below to get a copy of the books: