Haunted by stepfather sexual abuse
By Bekezela Mguni
Schelesile Dube (21) says her step father sexually molested her when she was teenager and the memories still haunt her. Now a young mother of one, Schelesile says since she got married, she has never visited her mother and stepfather in fear of stirring memories of the sexual attacks from her stepfather.
Schelesile grew up in Cowdray Park, a high density suburb 21 kilometres west of Bulawayo metropolitan province. She says her biological father died when she was very young. After three years, her mother re-married. She says she was five years old when her stepfather moved in with mother.
“When my mother re-married, I was really not affected. I had little memories about my biological father, so when my stepfather moved in, I just treated him like my own father. However, as I was growing up, I began to notice that my stepfather was giving too much unwarranted attention, especially when my mother was not around,” says Schelesile.
One day when her mother had gone to a funeral in the neighbourhood, Schelesile says she was shocked when her stepfather came into her bedroom during the night. She says he was half dressed and tried to force himself into her blankets. Schelesile says she screamed and her stepfather quickly stepped back and begged her to keep quiet. She says her stepfather claimed that he had only come in to check if she was alright and tuck in her blankets. She adds that her stepfather ordered her not to tell her mother because that would destroy their marriage.
“After this incident, my stepfather was always trying to get too closer to me. He would enter my bedroom and engage in idle chats that made me uncomfortable. I strongly felt that I should tell my mother but somehow I feared that this could bring acrimony in the family. Each time my mother was away, I would try by all means to be out of my stepfather’s way,” says Schelesile.
Schelesile says the situation worsened one day when she noticed her stepfather peeping through the bathroom window when she was taking a bath. She says she was terrified, and ordered him to stop what he was doing. She adds that from that time, she made sure that all the openings to the bathroom were closed before she took a bath. However, she reveals that at times she senses that someone was watching her taking a bath. This, she says, made her more uncomfortable.
After almost a year of living in fear, Schelesile says one day her mother caught the stepfather lingering by the bathroom door, trying to check in. She says her mother confronted him as to why he was at the bathroom door when he knew that there was someone inside. Instead of apologising, Schelesile says her stepfather became confrontational, accusing Schelesile of being loose and always wearing revealing clothes.
‘I was happy and relieved when my mother caught my step father red-handed. I could not tell her myself because I was afraid that my mother would not believe me. I somehow began to feel a little safer at home even though I still could not trust him,” says Schelesile.
In the heat of the confrontation, Schelesile says her mother threatened to report him to the police and this jolted him and he then apologised for his behaviour. However, Schelesile says this incident sparked animosity between her and her stepfather.
“From that time until I left to get married, my stepfather made my life difficult. He now had more children with my mother and they were always getting presents while I got nothing. I could not complain to my mother about this because we had an uneasy relationship,” says Schelesile.
Although she is now happily married, Schelesile says the memories of her stepfather trying to get into her bed or peeping at her in the bathroom continue to haunt her.
“It is very difficult to grow up under a stepfather. I wish my mother had remained single to take care of me until I was old enough. But I cannot blame her. She also needed someone to be with her. I am only happy that I left that place without being raped,” says Schelesile.