Sexual Abuse of a Disabled Woman

This article ‘Sexual Abuse of a Disabled Woman’ (Anonymous) was printed in Balance, September 1992.

“I have been disabled from birth. When living with my family seven years ago, I had been going through a life that tormented and disabled me more than I am now. I was living with my older sister, her children and her husband. Both my sister and her husband worked, so I was left at home to take care of the children.

While my suister was still at work, my brother in law would come home early with an excuse of a headache, but instead he would force me to have sex with him. I was terrified, unable to defend myself against such a situation, helpless and everything just went blank. These happenings were going on for a year and it seemed that I just cannot do anything to help myself so I became submissive each time he came for me. Telling my sister about it all was not my intention as I would never be believed and of course I would be creating a fuss and causing a rift in the home. No one knew of the horrible scenes that were happening in the house until my pregnancy was discovered.

I am very tiny compared to my other friends with disabilities. I cannot stretch my legs so I walk on my feet with my legs bent and my bottom almost touching the floor. Could you ever imagine or believe that with my disability, would somebody in their right mind take advantage of me and go as far as hurting me sexually. I did not, as I saw myself as non-existent, a burden to society and nothing to look at.

During my pregnancy I was asked a lot of questions which I did not answer truthfully, but one day I broke down and told them all the story about my brother in law. They all balmed me, it must have been me who made him do things to me. I was the one to blame, so for my sins I was put into hard labour. I had to walk all the way to the river to wash everyone’s clothes, cook, clean and every other possible househiold duties one can think of. My disability did not even bother them at all. I was nothing special to them. I was totally degraded, but my willpower to live kept me going until the day I delivered my baby girl.

Then to add to my traumatic life, my baby was taken away from me after 3 days of being close together. To my knowledge my child has been taken away overseas. I was seen as an unfit mother due to my disability. My other qualities did not count. Soon after being discharged from hospital I was referred to a sfae house where I now live with my other sisters who have some sort of disability.

Life took on a dramatic change for me. The bathroom, the toilet, the living room and the women I’m staying with are so different. The atmosphere was no comparison to the surroundings I was accustomed to before. I have even taken positive steps to re-do my life. I never had an education so I did not speak a word of English, but now I speak it as well as any of you do. I have had no formal therapy to ease the images of my abusive years, but I do try and cut it completely out of myt life. This does not heal me as things are still vivid in my memory but it is the beginning of a new life for me.”