When I started writing I was 15 and I had the aim of spreading awareness and creating change. Though at the time I was unsure of how exactly that would go.
The first thing I did was create an online magazine and within weeks we had a whole team of people working out of 8 countries. The US, UK, SA, Kenya, Ireland, Australia, Zimbabwe and Ghana.
I was watching an idea that was in my head, turn into reality.
And more than that, this was the first time I gained the realization that we were all ONE.
No matter the country, city, culture or tradition we were all experiencing various forms of depression, suicide and abuse.
In my country abuse wasn’t something we talked about and when we did it wasn’t something we acknowledged openly.
I wanted to gain support from the community and I remember asking some Zimbabwean writers to join and they all said no. Some even laughed and even now some continue to.
Words like rape and mental health are things we continue to hide under a rug and wish upon a star that one day they will disappear.
Meanwhile online we were experiencing a revolution. So many people coming up and sharing their stories.
So many people coming together and volunteering their time so no one ever had to feel like they had no one to talk to.
This was my biggest test yet. I couldn’t handle it. Couldn’t handle the time it took, the amount of people I couldn’t help because I was too young and I just had no idea what to do.
My flaw was believing I could do it all.
And sometimes we fall into that trap. We believe that just out of pure good intentions we can make it work and sometimes we can’t.
It made me feel good to help people until it made me feel terrible that I couldn’t actually change their situations.
I hadn’t gone through the process of owning up to my own limitations.
Owning up to my humanity.
The fact that we can only ever do so much.
It’s the same pain I feel when I think of everything that’s happening right now.
The pain of realizing that your empathy can be a weakness.
After we stopped publishing I was confronted by a second realization.
Through all this I had failed to share my own story.
See abuse wasn’t merely a cause for me or a story I didn’t understand.
Abuse was a part of my own life. Something that I had lived through.
The small criticisms that made me feel small.
The physical assault on my body.
The assault on my mind, created by living with the shame.
I wasn’t allowed to talk about it because then I might bring shame on the family or shame on our community.
So I tried to help others share their own stories. All the while hiding behind my own pain.
Then I was greeted by a whole other reality. Sometimes people can hate you for your truth.
They’ll say, ’You’re not taking the issue seriously enough.’
’It’s not the right time to speak out.’
’It’s not the right platform!’
’You’ll scare people away.’
I’m not going to lie and say it was a smooth transition.
But eventually I learnt to own it.
To own my story and stand up for myself no matter what.
And be willing to say goodbye to those that stand for what I stand for.
I want to give more women platforms to share and finally know that they are not alone.
And as for my own story, I’m writing a book, tilted:
At What Age Does My Body Belong Just To Me?
There is power in our voices and there is power in our stories.
So never stop sharing.