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Do You Remember The First Time You Learned About Rape?

I do. It was a day my life changed, from that moment on, I was no longer an innocent moving through the world, I became a girl who had to constantly be on guard, aware, of her surroundings, of potential danger.

I can’t remember how old I was, I was under 10 years of age, that I know for sure. I’d had the birds and bees talk with my mom, so I knew about the birds and the bees, but up until that moment, I had never realized that one human being could force themselves onto another in such a deeply personal and intimate way.

It was such a profound, impactful learning, that I remember a lot of the details from that night. Somewhere during the early 1980’s. We’d been eating supper in front of the TV. Police File had been on. Remember Police File? They’d spoken of a man that the police were looking for in connection with a rape. I turned to my parents and asked?

What’s rape?

I remember both my parents sort of side eyeing each other, so I knew it must be something awful!

They sort of whispered to me to wait until my younger brother had gone to bed and then they’d explain later.

Then they told me.

And as a girl, my life was forever changed.

I wonder sometimes what it must be like to be a man. To not have to worry about this heinous, hateful, invasive, degrading, hurtful, destructive, thing happen to you, every day. Don’t get me wrong. I am more than aware that men get raped too. But let’s be honest, statistically speaking, a woman has a far, far, far greater chance of being raped, something like 1 in 3 South African woman will be raped.

Look, I’m not a man, but after this whole Brock Turner disgrace, and reading all the articles and opinion pieces, I’ve become aware, that most men only really fear being raped if they’re sent to prison, that’s when it becomes a possibility for them.

I know it’s not like that for me. Is it like that for you?

From the moment my parents explained to me what rape is, I became aware, I became afraid. Every time I have to use a deserted or quiet public toilet, I fear being raped. Every time I walk through a darkened car park I fear being raped. Every time I go out for dinner with my girlfriends and drive home alone, I fear being raped.

The fear of rape is there every. single. day. of. my. Life!

I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where I didn’t have to have that very real fear?

I worry every day about my daughters. How do I protect them from this? Without buying into and perpetuating rape culture? How do I find it in me to steal their innocence? Because I know the moment I tell them about rape, it will have the same impact on me as it has had on every other woman, a life forever changed by the realization of what could happen at any moment?

All I know for sure is that rape doesn’t discriminate. You can’t say it will never happen to you. It could happen to you or me or, God forbid our daughters.

And that terrifies me.


  • hilaryjgreen

    June 10, 2016 at 10:13 am

    I started wondering this week about how the reasonably regular “bird and bee” talks with my kids need to include a discussion on rape. How my daughter needs to know that she can say No regardless of the situation she might be in and that it should absolutely be expected. And for my son… absolute respect always. No, or not a yes, means no. Regardless of the situation. It makes me kinda nauseous to have this kind of talk with either of them.

  • Caroline

    June 10, 2016 at 10:18 am

    I cannot remember when or what age, think I was a teenager, but, YES! “The fear of rape is there every. single. day. of. my. Life!” and I fear for my daughter even more than for myself!! Rather me than her I feel. Impact full piece… I want to cry now.

  • Laura

    June 19, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Gosh! I can’t remember. I know it definitely wasn’t from my folks – my mom STILL hasn’t had the birds and bees talk with me! Was probably how so many of us learnt about it – from TV!


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