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…. Raped and HIV+

Some people go through a lot in life, so much so that one could wonder how they are still alive and kicking. It really seems as though it is not safe to be a woman anymore. For every survivor, mostly women, rape is the most painful word to hear, as the recollection of the act and circumstances leading to it can trigger excruciating pain and tears no matter how far back in their life, they encountered this traumatic experience. Most survivors tend to blame themselves for being in the wrong place at the wrong time when, in actuality, they are not even at fault. BY: NTEBOHELENG LESEO & BOITUMELO RAMOELETSI

Mamokone Liphoto, aka “Connie,” a mother of two from Maseru Ha-Leqele, is still healing from the trauma of being raped twice years back. She is the owner and founder of the Cograbig fashion and

makeup company, which produces both clothing and makeup. She is an ambitious woman who does not let the criticism of her critics prevent her from achieving her goals.

Connie could not control the tears running down her cheeks as she bitterly recalled all that happened to her and how it changed her life forever. While physical pain and trauma are undeniable outcomes of rape, survivors, including herself, carry emotional scars for the rest of their lives. “They forced themselves on me, and it was the most traumatic experience I have ever had. Being pinned down and having your dignity snatched in that very moment, while you helplessly watch on, “She remembers.

When she was in Form C, she was the victim of her first attempted rape; however, a stranger saved her when an unknown man tried to rape her. One day, Connie was forcefully held by a different man who savagely raped her and severely beat her while threatening to kill her if she called the police about the incident. She emphasizes that she reported the incident to the police, but that she was brutally questioned about her HIV status and her intentions concerning the rape. After the rape incident, Connie says she was still numb; it had not yet triggered her mind until she experienced bullying at her school, where she was blamed for using rape as an excuse, yet she wanted to infect the rapist with HIV. She then states that the reality of all that had happened to her had hit her very hard and was now triggering in her mind, but she had made the decision to leave the sleeping dog lie. “The days seemed to last forever. I fought my way out of a dark pit, feeling starved, choked, and dying. I could not sleep. Unpredictable panic attacks occurred frequently. What can be trusted in a safe place? I was both shocked and terrified. The sensation was too strong; I needed to numb it.” She elaborates.