16 Days of Activism is an international campaign to end violence against women and children. It began on November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) and will end on December 10 (Human Rights Day). For more information on the movement, see the official UNiTE website.
Here in Dominica, the campaign has taken social media by storm, propelled by Delroy Williams, Khadijah Moore and their team of Advocates.
Mimicking a similar movement in Barbados, the local movement can be recognized by the hashtag #LévéDomnik. The hashtag, which when translated from Créole means wake up Dominica or stand up Dominica, is expected to encourage women, girls, men and boys to wake up, stand up and raise their voices against sexual harassment, molestation, all forms of assault, rape, domestic violence, etc.
The stories that follow were shared with the Advocates and now I’m sharing them with you. The anonymous contributors were brave enough to share their experiences, so in support of this campaign, let us share this blog post with our friends and family. This is Part 1 of the series.
At the age of five…
My mother sent me to live with my father and stepmother. I was 11 when the abuse started. This was right after he found out that she had been cheating on him while he was in Canada going to school.
I remember that I used to sleep in the same room with my brothers but once I hit puberty I got my own room. At first, I was happy but that happiness was short lived.
With the room came a father who felt like he could sneak in at night and sexually abuse me. He would touch my breasts, kiss me and each time, I would try to claw his face off or beg him to stop. There was one night I will never forget. He came into my room and asked me, “do you get any feelings down there?”
I had no idea what he was asking me. Seeing the confusion on my face, he clarified, “do you get any sexual feelings because the other night, while you were sleeping, I felt wetness in your underwear.”
Why my father was interested in my vagina and whether or not I had any sexual desires was beyond my comprehension.
It got worse. For five years, I had to endure abuse from a man who was supposed to protect me from the world. Coming into my room at night, coming into the bathroom when I was taking a bath to watch me naked.
He would also find me when I snuck into my brothers’ room to sleep on the top bunk of their yellow bunk bed. I wondered why he never abused my brothers like he did me.
I finally got the courage to try to tell my mother but before I could get the words out, my mother told me that if she ever found out my father was sexually abusing me, she would kill both of us.
Needless to say, I kept quiet because my experience with my mother historically, was not a good one. This is a woman who chose her husband and 6 kids over the child she had as the result of an affair (me).
My father moved me to the downstairs apartment at age 15. In retrospect, I realize that it was so he could have more access to continue the abuse, which he did. However, he told people that it was to put distance between me and my stepmother who I was having problems getting along with.
Lucky for me, the abuse stopped when I moved to the USA when I was 16. Six years later, when he came to the States to visit for Thanksgiving, I finally confronted him about the abuse. This was triggered because I found him going through my underwear drawer.
I called him a pedophile. He punch me in the face and attempted to shut me up. My aunt had to step in and stop him from beating me up.
I have not had a conversation with my father in 10 years and because he is a prominent figure and a government official, I am posting this anonymously ~ well sort of #kjb
Sitting on a packed bus…
And feeling a hand stroking your thigh… going higher and higher. Freezing… still, because you hope your mind is making that shit up.
But then you feel the movement again. There is a hand under the skirt of your high school uniform. Elbowing a grown man in the rib cage… and whispering, “Aye, you’re touching me.” He brazenly stares at you, and says, “Yes, I know.”
That feeling of dread…
Because your much older step brother is spending the summer. He will be waiting in the bedroom, naked, as soon as your parents leave for work… make you touch him in places with your hands… and with your tongue. And you’re ashamed… so you don’t say anything.
Your younger brother catches it one day. But you’re more afraid and ashamed for yourself than anything else. Mercifully, he doesn’t tell on you. Twenty years later… you’ve moved on… the phone rings… and it’s his voice on the other end of the line.
You are instantly filled with a raw, savage, rage and you offload every emotion that you hadn’t dared to put into words. He is stunned and speechless. “Don’t you dare call this phone again.” No one is home to hear the exchange.
He inboxed me the other day. I realized, I’m still angry.
As a teenager, you are asleep.
You feel your panty crotch sweep to the side. Someone is touching you. Your older cousin!
I was 10…
My brother used to wait until everyone was asleep and would come into my room and grease my vagina and put his penis between my legs, and do that continuously. It maybe happened every night in the week because my mom use to take care of some elderly people and had to sleep the night.
After he would wipe me up and go to his bed.
There are days that my mom would leave me home with him alone and he would bring me in his room n do this. I got so accustomed to it that I knew when he would come. Sometimes I would play like I was fast asleep when he tried to wake me up so he would leave me alone… but he still would do it.
When I was twelve I told him I don’t care if he kills me I’m going to tell mom and he told me he’s gonna stop…
At that time he stopped… But would beat me every time he met me talking to a guy.
I hated him but didn’t tell anyone… when I was 15 I became sexually active and every time to start having sex I would fight him down before we could start. So I decided to stop having sex.
At the age of 18 I started again and it was still the fighting me down to have sex. The guy was older and could say mature and was wondering why every time we had sex I have to fight him down like it was rape.
At that point I opened up to him and he was furious and told me there was a police living close to him that deals with this. But I knew my family would hate me so I told him just leave it there…
It haunted me for years until at 26 years I got into a problem with my brother and my mom and sis was like I over-thinking that little issue and I blurted it out… I remembered my mom and sister yelling, crying, screaming…
He was sitting right there and started saying how he was young and had urges so he did that… and how he can pay me for the hurt.
I sleep every night with my door closed after that because I felt he would kill me… What hurts I have to see his face everyday reminding me of what he did to me…
When I first encountered semen in my adult life…
I thought to myself , I know what this is. I remembered the consistency, I remembered the taste, the smell and tears began to fill my eyes. The feeling of shame. There’s more…
I didn’t have a stable home so my mom moved us to a new community to be with her boyfriend. The boyfriend’s mother dated a younger man and that was the first horrible experience.
He would wait when everyone would leave and then touch me and ask me to touch him.
When I decided to talk about it, he said he would kill me.
I went to spend summer holidays with a friend and her family and her brother would come to the room and touch me while he kept his hand over my mouth.
To this day I can’t sleep in the dark. I have a nightlight and my door has to be locked. I check it twice!
Growing up I’ve lived in an extended family household.
He came from out of Dominica to visit because of the death of family member.
He’s married… a father, grandfather, brother, uncle cousin….. One day he was ironing and I went to stand next to him to ask a question. He slid his hand up my skirt… I was so shocked. I was 8… I can never forget the feeling…
From then every time he visited he’d wait until everyone was asleep to come into my room to touch me and try to have sex with me. Sometimes I’d scream, pretend I was asleep or wrap myself up in my sheet… I never told a soul.
Now I’m grown I finally told my mum. He denied it. I’m shattered, heartbroken… Haven’t seen him in years. Four weeks ago Facebook suggested that I add him as a friend… I lost it… He’s now blocked!
I’m still hurt and angry and if I had a gun I’d kill him…
My uncle would let me touch his private parts when he was living with us. I remember it. Was slimy and wet.. And would tell me it’s OK to feel it.
He was my best friend.
He held me down as he opened my shirt and put his hands below my bra. I tried to break loose, I tried to scream, I was frozen.
I said no. I know I did… but it didn’t deter him.
I still remember the scent of his breath. I remember being so angry with myself that I let it happen, that perhaps I led him on. Why didn’t I scream? Why didn’t I defend myself? Why didn’t I do something?
I began to doubt whether I said no or perhaps I wasn’t loud enough or forceful enough because he was my best friend and friends won’t do that to you.
I remember going home and soaping my skin at least five times trying to get the scent of him off of me. I tried to pretend like nothing happened. I cried myself to sleep that night and I’m crying now.
He called the night before…
“I want to us to talk over breakfast.”
I asked, “About??”
He said, “Us.”
I said, “there’s no ‘us.'”
He said, “OK, well at least come to hear me out and I still wanna give you a treat.”
I then said, “OK.”
Next morning at minutes to 8, he’s calling, “I’m in the cemetery meet me there.”
I said, “I just woke so come check me home.”
He said “OK.” and did just that.
I decided to just stay home to do the ‘talking’ and he started begging me to make back and promising he’ll change, but being tired of those stories over and over (looking at him with disgust), I said “no”.
Before I knew it his hands were under my neck choking me…
I know God was there because of the strength I got to kick him off and then I started shouting out my brother’s name.
During that time he picked up a weapon to hit me in the head, which my brother held and forced him out of the house whilst he was stating he must kill me.
I ran to the phone to call the police and that’s when he actually left the area.
He was the neighbor of a close friend.
I was 15 and at my friends’ house.
He and I were talking and my friend left to go get something up the street. I thought he liked me and he said it to me before.
That day was the first time he tried to kiss me and I didn’t resist. For years I felt that if I had stopped it there he may have not gone any further, but I didn’t. He lifted my skirt and attempted to penetrate me.
I begged him to stop and shouted for help but no one heard me.
“Stop fighting I’m not in yet.”
That’s what he said to me when I finally got the strength to push him off.
I passed my friend in her steps and didn’t turn back.
When I got home I felt so dirty. I washed my skin so hard it burned. I finally gave up and sat on my bedroom floor in my towel crying.
When my family got home my sister looked at me and said, “attention you looking for nah!?”
It just broke me. I never said a word to anyone about this for months. It haunted me, I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t know if this boy had given me an STI. I was terrified.
I finally found the courage to seek help and get tested. I secretly took counseling for 10 months. To this day my family still don’t know this happened to me. But I’m glad I found the strength to help myself.
My story made short.
I was a little girl. Maybe about 9 (can’t remember my exact age), and I was at my aunty’s shop, sitting, playing with my doll, combing it’s hair.
A much older man was there, Mr Payne. Without saying a word, he took my doll and was touching her privates. I stood there numb. Not knowing what to say or do.
Why was he touching and rubbing her like this in my presence?
I immediately left and told my mom as soon as I could. My aunt was more interested in her customer and was ‘sootiwehing’ him.
Thank God for my strong mother because she went to his home with the intention to knock out this man. She spoke to his daughter about this. If I would ever see him, I would disappear.
It’s been a while since I’ve seen him. I think he might be bed ridden. But if I were to see him. I would open a bottle of alkali and make him smell it. Just like how he showed me my doll’s privates.
Apparently we’d both be attracted to different ‘senses.’
I’d gone to fetch a few items…
From the shop higher up the village for my mum. He followed me on my way back, lift me up from behind, covered my mouth and ran down the nearby bushes.
I was 9 and he was 19, my cousin.
I was terrified and tried to break loose (a hopeless effort since he was much stronger than me). I prayed earnestly in silence that God would send someone as he rubbed himself on me (no penetration).
Suddenly, a vehicle passed by and I mustered the courage to release his hands from my mouth and began to scream.
It was then I got my freedom. I sprinted all the way home, but never said a word.
I was indeed frightened and scared.
Broke the silence after marriage… I have never confronted him on it… Don’t think I have the courage to that… I vowed never to have a man touch me after this…
I was about the age…
Where I had just began to even recognize my surroundings. I would say I was about the age of 3 or 4.
My mother would send my cousin to bathe me and he would push his finger in my vagina and my Mom would hear me screaming and crying.
I was in pain but instead she would come see what’s going on she would say, “that child is just salop… I don’t know why every time she have to bathe she acting like somebody killing her. She just salop.”
I developed a fear for bathing. Not only was my cousin doing this to me, my mother was also physically abusing me. It never stopped there.
He tried to penetrate me when I was about 5 or 6, right when Days of Our Lives came on. Thank God when the Days of Our Lives song comes on my aunt runs upstairs because she can’t miss it.
Years later when I had moved away from there, I was about 9 or 10, he came over to the house to do something for Tia and I was alone.
I don’t even remember if he had sex with me I was so scared but I do remember him showing me cum coming out his penis. He also gave me a hickey on my neck.
I wanted to tell Tia but I couldn’t because I thought she would think it was my fault. Instead I told her I fell on the steps and hit my neck.
I had never spoken to that guy again. One day when I was much older, I passed him by like nothing and he yelled out my name so aggressively, like I had disrespected him by passing him straight, when in actuality he disrespected me by taking away my innocence.
Be strong girls because I know it’s not an easy thing to overcome.
Yeah that’s my story…
I had just left school, 17 years, didn’t go to college right away so I use to hang around my aunt husband, also an elder at the church I went to and I’m still attending.
I went to do lectures at schools with him to occupy my time. He was a fire officer.
One night I took a ride with him to the neighboring village. Now he said he was going to collect plants at a center in the night. I didn’t check nothing. He stopped, went outside and I sat in the vehicle.
He called me out after a while. So he started to talk and tell me he and his wife were having problems in bed so he want to have sex with me to see if is his wife or himself that have the problem.
I was shocked I told him I was a Virgin I cannot do that. I went silent and he realize I wasn’t pleased. He proceeded to drop me home I thought about confronting him. I want him to know having sex with me would not be a solution to his problem.
I kept that up to this day, not saying a word.
Hi Delroy. I would like to share my story…
I can’t remember how old I was but I was definitely younger than 10 (I know because I sat common entrance at 10 and it happened before that).
My mother’s cousin who was in his 20s, spent a lot of time at my home as his parents barely took care of him. I remember being home one day alone. He came over and took me to my mother’s bed.
He sat down and placed me on him and penetrated me. It was so painful and strange that I just felt numb.
Afterwards I saw blood. He told me don’t worry, the blood came from him (later in life, I understood where it came from). There was another time he tried again but thank God my sister came. I still don’t know if she saw what was happening to this day.
I felt so ashamed. I just could not bring myself to tell anyone. He left the island but has visited on a number of occasions. When he visited in the earlier years, I behaved like nothing happened and we were just regular cousins.
But as I got older I just got angry that he did not even see it fit to apologize.
I sent him an email expressing my hurt, anger and disgust. He apologized but kept on saying how he loves me, which pissed me off even more. I recently called and asked if he could attend my wedding (as I am getting married soon).
I made it clear to him that I did not even want to see his face ever again and don’t call my home anymore and to consider himself dead to me.
I recently found out that he did the same to my twin neighbors. It still angers me at age 37.
I have 2 sons and a daughter now, I speak to them every day about speaking out if anyone makes them feel uncomfortable and I also warn my 13 and 19 year old sons to avoid ever touching anyone in a manner that is not appropriate.
My daughter who is 5 is not allowed to spend time at anyone’s home. And when we have visitors to our home, I ensure that she is always in my sight. I am in constant fear that some will do the same to her.
When your older…
Brother’s friend sits you on his lap with a guitar underneath which he touches and plays with your private parts.
Then years later having to be so paranoid about your child being molested because you are not the only one this happened to in your family.
But you have to let her go and allow her to interact with other people because you can’t live in fear. Just pray every day that she will be fine and protected and do the best you can.
Finding out from your mother years later that she herself had to ward off attention from her sister’s husband…
My favorite uncle.
A father, a preacher, one of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet. He was a second father to me.
For years he would embrace me, a hug, a kiss to the forehead and tell me how beautiful I am.
“Let me look at you, you so pretty child. Everyday you getting prettier.”
My entire life I’ve looked up to him. Entering my twenties, his greetings began feeling very uncomfortable. The hugs got a bit tighter, the kisses lasted a bit longer but I shrugged it off.
Then one night at the age of 24 he came over to my grandmother’s house to pick her up. Here I am sitting on the porch and he’s just staring at me and smiles.
I blow a kiss to him and he says, “You know what I’ll take that kiss.” He came up to me, held my chin (I’m expecting the usual forehead kiss), and kissed me on my lips. I was stunned. Frozen in place.
He left..later that night I sent him a pretty strongly worded text message.
I told only my sister, my aunt, and my cousin what happened so that they would understand why I would be dreading this man in the immediate future. I didn’t want any confusion.
By the next morning I received texts from his son asking me, “Aly how you can do that? That is your uncle.”
My uncle came over trying to defend himself to my grandmother, saying that I was demon possessed for cursing at him and for even saying that he could do that to me. Mind you, I have yet to say a word to my Granny about what he did.
What broke my heart is that my grandmother sided with him. This man spent an hour trying to defend why he did what he did and what he didn’t..in the name of the Lord I had to give you a kiss.
You only mad because something happened to you in the past and that kiss brought out the pain. So many [email protected]#% excuses. I couldn’t sleep for weeks. Everything he said was reeling in my mind.
I was hurt. Most of my family says I’m bad because I cursed him out. But forget that. My mom raised me with the mentality, if ANY man touches me without warrant, let her know.
If you’re old enough stand up for yourself. No matter how small the act, girls and women should never tolerate sexual or psychological abuse. It was a kiss, but if tolerated who knows how far it could’ve gone. #CallMeBad
I’ve been reading those #lifeinleggings posts and I have a story to share…
I am now 44 years old and this is still tormenting me to this day!! I’ve been battling with this since I was about 10…
Not sure how I should start… have been in contact with the police and Tina so the perpetrator is going to be dealt with.
Growing up in a rural community I guess everybody ‘trusted’ each other so much that at the age of 8 I was sent to sleep with a neighbor (who was a bachelor).
The most thing is that he REQUESTED to have me come spend nights with him to which my mother agreed! I’m honestly not sure if I was a payment for something he did for them but I was sent!
Who sends their 8-year old to a man’s house to sleep??? At the time I was naive so didn’t even know what he was doing to me! 😪 😪 😪
He would allow me to sleep in a separate room but during the night when I had fallen asleep would come wake me up with his hard @#$%. I would feel that moist sticky stuff between my legs and had no idea what was happening.
After he was done, he would put me back to sleep and say, “that’s all okay.”
My hands are shaking sooo much typing this… I swear I will kill this man one of those days.
When I started high school at the age of 10 I found out what he was doing through my Guidance and Counseling class.
I remember going home one day and told my mother what was happening and her response was, “you lying.”
How could a mother who was supposed to protect her child behave that way???? This caused me to grow up very anti-social (of course in those days no one would know about that).
I despised my mother for years I honestly was blaming her but then when I rationalized I asked myself, “why wasn’t daddy mad when I was sent there?” So he too had a part to play in this situation!
When I realized I was on my own in this situation, I started making excuses why I couldn’t go like “I have a lot of homework to complete.”
God knows how I HATE this man!!! I decided to stop going to his home and that’s how it ended!
I am sure there are others he has done this to because he is in a profession dealing with children. I thank God for my understanding husband cause he has suffered soooo much due to this!!
We need to end this!!!
Have given the police a statement and I am now waiting on them to get back to me.
God only knows how many women are out there struggling / battling with this!!! I will be a part of this fight as soon as that legal battle is over. (He has not been spoken to yet so don’t want to jeopardize the fight).