Not only did Captain Tebogo August (37) from Lephengville in Hammanskraal survive being sexually abused at a young age, but she has gone on to write an inspirational book encouraging other survivors to take back their power.
August, who is a military journalist at the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), says being raped at the age of six by a close family member robbed her of her childhood.
She says the rape left her permanently scarred and marginalised.
“With my childhood came disillusionment, exhaustion, isolation and the loss of hope.”
She was fortunate enough to secure a bursary to study journalism at Bad Oldesloe University in Germany. Following her studies, she secured her job with the SANDF and found solace in writing. This led to her telling her story in a newly released book called No Longer Wearing the Victim Badge.
“In the book, I cover topics like bullying at school, step-parenting and abuse, teachers who knew best and daddy issues. It is a boundary-pushing book. I had to acknowledge that all of who I am is indeed who I am – I hurt, I battle with my inner rage and instead of asking ‘Why me?’, I forgave and reconciled so that I could free my heart from all that hate.”
She believes that gender-based violence (GBV) needs to be urgently addressed in South Africa. “I have discovered on my travels that in a room of 10 women, six will have been raped. Yet despite the staggering commonality of this pain, the conversation remains taboo, riddled with unwarranted pain and shame, and perpetuating a cycle of solitary mourning.”
She says men need to be more vocal in fighting GBV because while women are most often the victims, ‘the consequences impact all of us’. “We need to destigmatise discussions surrounding GBV.”
Women who are being abused must speak out, she says, and survivors must think about going to therapy, which she says helped change her life.
For more information about Captain Tebogo August, contact her at 072 610 5349.
If you require help with GBV or suspect that someone is being abused, call the GBV hotline at 0800 428 428 or send a please call me to *120* 7867#