My name is Musenge Musomali. Iam, a Zambian woman aged 36 years old, founder/Executive Director of Liberated Hearts Foundation. I am also an incest, child sexual abuse and HIV survivor.
During the early years of my childhood, I viewed our home as a safe environment where Iwould grow up to be whatever/whoever I wanted to be. My parents were educated with decent jobs; my father was an accountant and my mother was a nurse. Therefore, having a good education was very important in our home.
When I was seven years old, everything changed in our home. My father became physically and emotionally abusive towards my mother, sister and three brothers. Since I was my father's favourite child, he was always good to me and spared me from the beatings that everyone else endured.
While my father was focused on my mother and older siblings, I suffered silently during this period of time one of my brother's begun to sexually abuse me. I shared a bedroom with three of my older brothers who were adolescents at the time. They were growing into adulthood and were obviously exploring their sexuality and i believe that sharing a bedroom with them must have been to much of a temptation to them. At first, it seemed like an unreal nightmare, but as time went on I realised it was real and withdrew into my own world of pain and isolation. No one noticed that I had changed because it seemed as though everyone of us had a number of issues to deal with and we all had developed ways to cope with the abuse that we were going through. I witnessed the almost, daily fights and got used to seeing my mother, sister and brothers crying.
One would think that on days my father was away from home we would experience peace and quiet, but that wasn't the case... instead my brothers and sister would engage in violent fights with each other. Eventually I got used to the fights and it became what I had become accustomed to being a "normal" part of my life.
For three years, I was silently sexually abused in my parents' home. The abuse continued until my father fell ill and passed on in 1994 from AIDS related health complications, when I was only ten years old.My father passed away without ever knowing what was going on under his roof.
After the death of my father, I thought the sexual abuse would stop, but I was sadly mistaken. When one brother stopped another of my other brother's begun to sexually abuse me, until I was fourteen years old. At this point, I became accustomed to the sexual abuse to a point where I became emotionless and accepted my fate of regular abuse. I was afraid to tell anyone because my brothers always told me we would get a nasty beating from our parents and eventually all our friends and other family members would find out which would bring shame and embarrassment upon the family.
As far as my mother was concerned, she may have thought her tormentor was gone and she could get some peace but she would be wrong. After my dad died, my brothers became totally, uncontrollably, abusive, and on many occassions, they physically and emotionally abused her. I felt sorry for her because not only had my father created three exact, abusive replicas of himself, but she also she suffered greatly because of this pattern and lack of respect that he instilled in them. I wish he had lived to see the kind of children turned "monsters" he had created.
Due to enormous stress as well as AIDS related health related complications, my mother eventually fell seriously ill, too and passed away in 1994 . At that time, my sister had already left home and was married. She took on the responsibility of taking care of all of us, then, since she was the oldest child. Luckily, I was sent to boarding school and was able to finally escape the sexual abuse.
While I wasat boarding school, my brothers continued to terrorise my sister and it felt like an endless nightmare. My brothers would steal her money, get her household property and see to use on alcohol, women and drugs. During the holidays, I too escaped into a world of alcohol, abuse, drugs and illicit sex with older men around my neighbourhood. Everyone in my family was highly dysfunctional and it seemed like we had no one to help us.
Eventually, my sister noticed that I had developed destructive behaviours but she could not control me even hitting me on a number of occassions in an attempt to discipline me had no effect. I continued to misbehave until I completed high school.
A few months after I completed high school, one of my brothers got meningitis and died, suddenly. Then, a year after his death, my sister passed away too, in 2001, from fungal meningitis. All of a sudden, my family fell apart quickly and unexpectedly. As if that wasn't enough to lose my parents, brother and sister, another one of my brothers also died from Tuberculosis, leaving only my immediate brother and myself.
At this time, I was nineteen years old and was involved with a man, so decided moving in with him with him was the best option. My older brother got married and went away to live with his wife and family. I thought life would be easy, finally, but not surprisingly I then walked directly into a physically, psychologically, mentally and emotionally abusive relationship. I endured the abuse because I did not have anywhere to go.
During the first year of the relationship, I got pregnant and when the child was born, I was in so much emotional and physical pain, but accepted this was my life. Unfortunately, two months after the birth of baby, she died from pneumonia. I was nineteen years at the time, I decided to get a medical check up, then only to discover that I was HIV positive.
After my daughter's death, I finally gathered the courage to leave the man I lived with after he threatened to kill me. When I finally left, I went to live with my late sister's, best friend and there I continued my destructive behaviour for two more years.I became extremely depressed and found solace once again alcohol, sex and drugs.
Then when I turned twenty one, I got very sick and was diagnosed with Tuberculosis, but I refused to take the prescribed drugs so my health deteriorated rapidly. By some miracle, I was taken to Our Lady's Hospice, a Catholic non-profit organisation. There I met caring and wonderful counselors, nuns and caregivers who prayed with me and gave me encouragement and support. I had been through a lot, and had lost the will to live, but with their love, encouragement and support, I regained a new hope that I hadn't felt in a very long time. I did not know that total strangers would give their all to a woman like me who felt rejected, neglected, abandoned and unloved.
When I fully recovered in early 2004, I began to volunteer at Our Lady's Hospice as a counselor. From that moment my life took a whole different turn and I gave encouragement and support to other people who were diagnosed with HIV and lead by my own example. I shared my story on different public forums and wrote articles about living positively. Since then, I have continued my work as an HIV activist as well as an advocate for the rights of girls and woman who have been victims of incest, sexual abuse. I credit and thank Our Lady's Hospice for who I am today. They did not give up on me, even when I had lost my will to live. They stood by my side even when my own family had left me there to die. For four months, they took care of all my needs and helped me to rebuild my life. There are no words that can explain how big and warm the counsellors' hearts are. They are truly exceptional health care providers, and they have continued to provide the same services to thousands of patients every year. It is a beautiful and peaceful place that has a healing effect on every sick person who gets admitted there. I forever remain thankful to Our Lady's Hospice located in, Kalingalinga, Zambia.
Since my discharge from Our Lady's Hospice, it's been fifteen years and I am still actively involved in HIV/AIDS work. See my video below; https://youtu.be/17pPZPankJY. Earlier this year, I decided to register my own organization, Liberated Hearts Foundation to address various issues related to incest, child sexual abuse, specifically the sexual abuse that happens in homes which is perpetuated by close and trusted family members. This is the link to my faebook page; https://www.facebook.com/liberatedheartsfoundation.mail/ and my Youtube video; https://youtu.be/z_G18b8LJXI. I also talk about incest, sexual abuse effects and ways to deal with abuse on this video. My foundation is also helping to ensure that children who are abused get access to medical treatment as quickly as possible to reduce the chances of them getting HIV infection or pregnancy, resulting from the abuse.
Since I was discharged from Our Ladys' Hospice I have come out to speak publicly about my ordeal. My story has of today, the 23rd of October, been published in our local newspaper and the Times of Zambia, which I believe will reach millions of people across Zambia. I know that my past has not stopped me from being a productive member of society. In fact, it has made me more determined to pursue my mission to be a role model for others from similar backgrounds and to see that being abused has not stopped me from pursuing my dreams and contributing positively to the lives of other people.
By adopting a selfless, positive and meaningful approach towards social challenges, it is possible to make a difference in our communities and countries because HIV/AIDS and child sexual abuse are global issues which affect everyone. I truly believe this can happen. #TogetherWeCan