By Tashinga Wazara, ZImbabwe:
I couldn't tell my husband that I had been raped by his father. I just couldn't. Max looked up to his father so much and knowing that his father could do something so terrible to him was something that he wouldn't be able to handle. I mean, this was the man who had been in front of us as we exchanged our vows and led us through a prayer of consecration for our marriage yet he was the one who desecrated it in such a devastating manner. I just couldn't do it.
So when we were in the doctor's office and I was on the floor, with my husband bearing over me asking for answers and threatening to give me another lusty blow if I didn't, I was speechless. His first question was 'how did this happen?' and the answer that I had to that question was 'Your father raped me' My answer was bound to lead to more questions: 'When?' 'How?' 'Why didn't you tell me?' and none of my answers would be good enough because once he tried to marry the person who I was accusing, his father, with what I was accusing him of, it wouldn't make sense.
He was his father. Why would his father do something like that, let alone to his own son? And he was a man of the cloth, a revered man of God who was known throughout the country and who ran a church of over a thousand people. Why would he do that to himself and his reputation? Why would he carry out such a sinful act when he was so close to God? The last question that Max would ask before brandishing me as a lying, cheating bitch would be, 'So are you telling me that my father gave you HIV?' This question would make my answer even less believable because Max's father was a big, strong man and he looked as healthy as anything. Clearly in this situation, the truth was unlikely to get me anywhere.
Even if we did get past the issue that Max's father had raped me and given me HIV, another big question that Max would throw my way would be, 'Ok so if indeed you were raped, why did you then sleep with me and infect me as well? Couldn't you at least have taken the same measures that all rape victims have to take and gone to the clinic and gotten tested for STI's and HIV before you jumped into bed with me again?' I would then remind Max that around the same time that all of this happened, I had been refusing to sleep with him and when he had insisted, I had asked him to use a condom and he had gotten really upset that I would say such a thing.
'A condom?!' he said. 'When did we start using condoms? Are you out of your mind?' I then reluctantly gave in to his demands and never actually went to get tested. I had already had unprotected sex with my husband so even if I went and got tested, it wouldn't help anything. In fact I didn't want to know, just in case I was HIV positive because then it would have been something else. Besides, as I mentioned earlier, my father-in-law looked healthy. HIV was the last thing to be worried about. A few days after the condom incident, my husband suggested that we try and have a baby. He felt the timing was right. I agreed because I also thought that maybe a baby would help take my mind off all the pain I had to live with every day. I thought that maybe bringing a new life in the world would also give me a new lease of life.
I was now even more convinced that the truth would only cause me more harm than good in this whole situation and so I chose to take the easier yet tougher route. I looked up at him, fighting back tears, and said, 'Max, about a year ago I got raped on my way back from a Wednesday night ladies meeting at church. It was that night when I slept on the couch and I told you that I had fallen asleep watching tv.' I knew he would remember that night because it was the only night I didn't sleep in our bed ever. The look on Max's face moved from anger to shock and he said, 'What?! You got raped? Why didn't you say anything?' and I said, 'I wanted to Max but each time I was about to, I got scared. I didn't want to lose you and so I decided to just deal with it myself. I'm so sorry Max'. As I said this I began to cry and then Max's face switched back from shock to anger and he shouted, 'So after you knew you had been raped, you still had sex with me? Did you not think that there might have been consequences? How could you be so irresponsible?'
Every word he said was like a dagger in my heart because I had just realized the folly of my actions and how they had destroyed the life of an innocent man. Regardless of who had raped me, I should have at least told him that I had been raped and gone and got tested. We could have avoided this situation and that realization broke me. He then looked me in the eye and said, 'I'm going home now and I'm gonna go get my things and go to my Dad's for a few days. I just need time to think,' he stormed out.
I waited a couple of hours before I went home so that I wouldn't bump into him because given the state of our relationship now, it would have been very awkward. I was shocked when I saw his car still in the driveway when I got home and I reluctantly went into the house. I found him in our bedroom sitting on the bed with his hands in his head and my journal was open next to him. I immediately put two and two together and I felt a cold chill go down my spine. My journal! I had written down everything that had happened in there! I had read on the internet that writing down your traumatic events helps in dealing with them. Somehow as he was getting his stuff he must have found it and read it looking for answers.
My head began spinning and I just stood there looking at him. He didn't move and then after a few moments he looked up at me with tears rolling down his cheeks and said, 'Cynthia, why didn't you tell me?'
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