Ignoring the boy child perpetuates violence against women

Of course, at that time, I had no understanding of why this was happening to me and what this entire act was all about. Let us remember that sexual awareness among my generation came a little bit later than that of nowadays.

THERE was a time when I was still a little child I wondered why people forced themselves on others.

I had also gone through repeated sexual abuse between the ages of six and seven years old (1979/80) at the hands of a girl we used to we live with.

Of course, at that time, I had no understanding of why this was happening to me and what this entire act was all about. Let us remember that sexual awareness among my generation came a little bit later than that of nowadays.

Therefore, as much as I had a bit of an idea of what was taking place, this was at the most naïve level. That is why I never resisted the advances, but merely submitted to everything she did to me.

All I knew was that I did not enjoy or agree to what was happening. I did not bother telling my parents. The reason is still unclear to me. Maybe I did not want to get the girl into trouble or just did not appreciate the magnitude of this abuse.

The most likely reason, though, could have been that sexual violation of boys was never an issue.

Nonetheless, as I grew older and began to grasp issues of sex and sexual relations, I had more questions than answers. As I read more and more news reports of rape, I wondered why anyone would be so sexually aroused to the point of forcing him or herself on another.

For me, at that time, this was purely a case of an oversexed individual needing someone on whom to relieve their overwhelming desires. Nonetheless, one thing still bothered me.

How did someone maintain their libido after all the violent struggle involved in subduing their victim — who would obviously offer strong resistance, especially if they are a bit older than I was during my own ordeal?

Were they not supposed to lose their desire for sex after all this fighting?

Little did I know at the time that sexual abuse was never really about a high libido. In fact, only as an adult — and now involved in social justice advocacy — did it finally dawn on me that there was far more to gender-based violence.

It is usually — although not always — about the exercise of power, control and oppression by the perpetrator over the chosen victim. There were normally elements of hate and resentment, mostly against the victim or what he/she represented.

Issues of low self-esteem and insecurity on the part of the perpetrator also play a vital role in gender-based violence (GBV). This realisation was frightening!

I began thinking.

There could be a number of reasons why anyone would want to exert such violent domination over another, especially when motivated by hate and resentment. They can never be fully and satisfactorily exhausted.

However, there was one factor that sent chills down my spine.

What if some of these abusers were damaged people who had endured so much trauma (particularly in their childhood), but never received any help and healing? In fact, had it not been for the grace of God, could I also not have easily become a rapists?

How did the sexual abuse I endured in my childhood really affect me deep down, more so at the subconscious level?

I honestly do not know, although I struggled quite significantly with romantic relationships in my early adult life. In this phase, I also made a number of self-destructive life choices, mainly driven by a low self-esteem which was riddled with anger.

Fortunately, though, my life is now controlled by the Holy Spirit — which guides and guards my thoughts, feelings and actions. As such, I do not carry any resentment, anger or hatred towards anyone — since God, through His Son Jesus Christ, healed my whole being.

I was totally healed from this painful experience or any other I encountered in my life. I completely forgave my abuser and, in fact, we are in very good books today. If anything, I feel sorry for her, as it is quite possible she was also a victim at some point in her life.

I can never rule out that she could have been subjected to sexual abuse herself — which turned her into the person she became towards me. Sadly, we have never talked about these things.

Without proper assistance, those who are abused can easily turn into abusers themselves.

This brings me to my next point. What is the likely outcome of those children, particularly boys, who were abused but never received any help? Will they not grow up harbouring resentment and anger towards women and associate them with those who tormented them during the weakest and most vulnerable point in their lives?

Will they not want to exert the same power, control and oppression on others, which they were also subjected to during their childhood? This can be of a sexual nature or other forms of GBV.

As I mentioned before, I am not saying this is the only reason for the disturbing incidents of sexual violence we witness on a daily basis. There are numerous other factors that cannot be fully accounted for. These include, but certainly not limited to, pure evil, superstition, drug and substance abuse and, as mentioned before, low self-esteem or insecurity.

There can, however, never be justification for any form of GBV. It is cruel and evil! Period.

Nevertheless, if we are genuine about putting an end to this evil cruelty, then we need to address some of the core factors. I deliberately chose to focus on boys who were themselves sexually abused for obvious reasons.

I can only speak on what I know from personal experience. If we do not address the damaged boys and men out there, we are not doing society any good. There is a huge number of bitter, resentful and angry boys and men who are moving around with a chip on their shoulders due to the hurt they endured as children.

Since the abuse of boys is never taken seriously, most of them never confide in anyone and they suffer in silence. This only serves to deepen this bitterness — seething underneath until it eventually boils over and explodes.

In other words, society needs to finally take the issue of the abuse faced by the boy child with more seriousness and urgency. That way, we will have wholesome men (who are not damaged) who are valuable members of the community. In addition, this also significantly reduces incidents of violence against women.

I honestly believe that as long as we ignore the boy child, women and girls will always be in danger. We now need to nurture a breed of boys and men who not only value themselves, but also the girls and women around them.

This can certainly not be achieved with an angry, resentful and bitter generation. There is an urgent need for healing those wounds.

  • Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, author and speaker. He writes here in his personal capacity.

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