It’s not your fault

Don’t blame yourself

Your thoughts (11) It’s not your fault

It started like any other day. I hung out with my friends in the community centre. We had lots of fun as usual. They said nice things about my red top. It felt so good.

At 4pm, I headed home. I took the same busy route I always take. There were two boys at the junction. I’d seen them around before, so it was no big deal. I walked past them and kept moving.

Next thing, I heard footsteps behind me. I had a bad feeling. My heart began to pound. A voice in my head said, ‘Run!’ and I took off immediately. But I wasn’t fast enough. Two rough pairs of hands grabbed me. I turned and gasped. The boys from the junction!

I struggled to break free, but they were very strong. They even tore my top! With all my strength, I kicked one of them in the groin. He screamed and let go of me. The noise distracted the other boy, and I finally broke free.

I ran back to the community centre. My friends panicked when they saw me. I was panting so hard I couldn’t talk. Eventually, I told them everything. We hurried to the junction, but the boys were gone.

Some people were passing by. They asked us what happened, and we told them. One man asked if I didn’t know any girl who wore red was asking for trouble. Another man said if I’d greeted the boys, they wouldn’t have attacked me. A young woman said I should have stayed home and read my books.

I felt ashamed and guilty. I should have worn plain clothes. I should have said hi to the boys. It was all my fault.

At home, I barely said a word to my parents. I remained moody for the rest of the day. The next morning, my Mum asked me what was wrong. I broke down and opened up to her. She was so warm and understanding. But she was upset when she heard what those people said! She told me that it wasn’t my fault, that I should never blame myself for others' behaviour. She said those boys wanted to harm me and this had nothing to do with what I wore or said. She also pointed out all the things I did right like listen to the voice in my head that said I should run, she also said I was right in reporting this and that it is never OK to keep quiet when something like this happens. I felt much better.

My Mum told my Dad about my attack. He reported to the neighbourhood security men, who are now searching for the boys.

At first, I wanted to stop going to the community centre. But my parents said I shouldn’t put my life on hold. So I still hang out with my friends and do the things I love. I won’t let anyone and anything bring me down. I am a survivor. I am strong.

If you’ve ever been in Zina’s situation, please don’t blame yourself. You’re not responsible for other people’s actions. If you like, confide in a trusted adult such as an older sister, an aunty – or even a parent like Zina did.

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