Survivor Story: Ayanda
Episode 29- Interview with Ayanda, a sexual abuse survivor
Our popular Survivor Series is back. This episode features Ayanda. She is a sexual abuse survivor living in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ayanda has written two books They Raped Me Now What and Life After Rape. She is also the founder of Thriver: Healing from Within, a trauma-informed yoga initiative and is an acclaimed motivational speaker.
WARNING: This episode may be triggering for some listeners. Please listen with care.
Host– Shaunestte Terrell
Guest– Ayanda Ngema
Full Show Transcript:
Shaunestte Terrell (00:00):
Hello everyone. This is your host Shaunestte Terrell. Welcome to support for survivors today. We are thrilled to welcome Ayanda Ngema to our show. Ayanda is the content creator and manager at The Girl That Brands, the founder of Thriver Healing from Within, a trauma informed yoga initiative that aims to help sexual abuse and rape victims and survivors to incorporate the practice of yoga into their healing process. Recognized as a prominent voice advocating for sexual abuse and rape amongst women and children. Ayanda is also an acclaimed motivational speaker and the author of two books. They raped me now. What and life after rape welcome Ayanda. We are so happy to have you here today.
Ayanda Ngema (00:41):
Thank you, Shaunestte. Thank you so much. I’m so glad to be here as well.
Shaunestte Terrell (00:45):
Yeah, absolutely. So let’s just get started. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about where you’re from. I know you live in Johannesburg now, is that right?
Ayanda Ngema (00:53):
Shaunestte Terrell (00:55):
Okay. Why don’t you just tell us a little bit about yourself and your family?
Ayanda Ngema (00:59):
Okay. My name is Ayanda Ngema, as you have mentioned, I am originally from South Africa. I grew up in [inaudible], which is a coastal south African province, but it’s known for its beaches, mountains, and also safaris. However, I spent most of my adult life in Johannesburg, which is South Africa’s biggest city. I was born in ’95. My mom was 15 years old when she gave birth to me. And I stayed with many different people, relatives and some of her friends as well, because she couldn’t take care of me as she was a teen single mom. And then in 2006, when I was 11 years old, that was when my grandfather permanently took me in and stayed with me until I finished school in 2014.
Shaunestte Terrell (02:01):
And your grandfather is famous, isn’t he?
Ayanda Ngema (02:05):
Yes, he is. He is famous. His name is Mbogeni Ngema. He is an internationally renowned multi award winning writer for Seraphina. And he’s an artist as well, singer, choreographer, theater. He does many, many things.
Shaunestte Terrell (02:25):
It sounds like.
Ayanda Ngema (02:28):
Yes. Yes he is.
Shaunestte Terrell (02:31):
Okay. So you were taken in by your grandfather and living with him. Is that when things, the first trauma you experienced was during that time or was it later?
Ayanda Ngema (02:43):
Yes, it was during the time. My grandfather was a very busy man. He was always out of home, always traveling and I found myself being taken care of many people. Family relatives that would come sometimes one day, two a week and so, whoever was free would come through and, you know, look after me if there was nobody available, Our housemate would take the opportunity to take care of me. And that was when the first incident happened. I was four years old when this incident happened. It was by our house mate’s son who used to come some weekends after school, wearing is school uniform. And on this particular day, he asked me to come to their room. There was a main house at home. And then we had a back room where our housemate was staying and he asked me to come with him. No problem. I mean, he was not a threat. That was somebody that I knew, right. And I went inside the room with him and he sat beside me and ask me to sit on the bed. And then he started taking off my underwear That was when I started feeling uncomfortable though. I didn’t know what was about to happen, but having somebody else, a stranger take off my underwear, it was really uncomfortable. And immediately I asked him if I could go back inside the house because I was not uncomfortable at all.
Shaunestte Terrell (04:17):
Was he your housekeeper son? How old was he?
Ayanda Ngema (04:21):
I’m not sure. Hey, I am not sure. But what I know is he was in high school at the time?
Shaunestte Terrell (04:28):
Yes. He was a teenager. He was, you know, quite a bit older than you.
Ayanda Ngema (04:33):
Yes, he was. He was a teenager at the time. So he asked me to, oh, he told me that… Okay, I’m not feeling comfortable with what you’re doing right now. Can I please go back inside the house so that I can play inside the house? He assured me that, no, don’t worry. I’m not going to hurt you. What I’m going to do now to you it’s just going to be quick. And then you can go back inside. And that is when he decided to take advantage my innocence. And after he was done, he told me that I shouldn’t tell anyone because I was going to get into trouble. I believed him, I believed it because my grandfather was a very strict man. Still is a very strict man. And I was afraid that, oh, no, if I do tell them what just happened. And he made it seem like it was my fault for him to do that to me. So I was afraid that, wow, I just did something so terrible. And I’m afraid to tell anyone because I would get into trouble. And that was how the first incident and everything changed after that.
Shaunestte Terrell (05:50):
So what do you mean when you say everything changed after that?
Ayanda Ngema (05:58):
I became different. I started isolating myself from family because i was afraid that the sickness I was keeping and nursing might come out. Even going to the toilet it was a mission. I remember I used to stand on the toilet seat with both my feet because I was afraid that the urine would touch my skin and burn me. And I would take minutes, something that took me seconds to do not minutes to do it because the burning sensation was just unbearable. And I started locking myself in my bedroom. Um, I stopped eating. I stopped playing outside because I was afraid that what if he comes again and does this thing to me again? So basically I just closed myself in.
Shaunestte Terrell (06:58):
It sounds like it affected your entire little life. Like your entire existence was completely changed by this.
Ayanda Ngema (07:08):
It was. Um, my childhood, basically he snatched it away. That’s what he did. My childhood was just snatched away and I had no choice, but to live with what I was facing, because I couldn’t even tell anyone, I couldn’t even trust anyone with what I’d experienced because I was afraid.
Shaunestte Terrell (07:26):
So you held onto that inside yourself. You never told anyone for a very long time, right? It was just you and he who knew?
Ayanda Ngema (07:34):
Shaunestte Terrell (07:35):
Did you continue to have to see him?
Ayanda Ngema (07:39):
Yes. Yes. Oh. I remember the first time he came back after the rape incident and I saw him through the window. Right. And he was walking in and I was so confused because he was confident and here I was all afraid of what had just taken place prior. And for him to walk, like nothing was happening. I was confused. And that assured me that I was the one who was in the wrong here. And my heart started beating very fast. Man, wow. It was, it was an experience. I would never wish on anyone.
Shaunestte Terrell (08:30):
It’s horrible because you know, the very act of him getting away with it and knowing that he did emboldens him and further makes you think it was your fault. It’s just, it cuts so many different ways.
Ayanda Ngema (08:46):
Yes, it does. It does.
Shaunestte Terrell (08:48):
Did the adults around you, do you, I know you were really little when this happened, but do you remember, did the trusted or the other adults around you, did any of them notice a change in you?
Ayanda Ngema (08:59):
I don’t think so. Hey, I don’t think so. And now that when I look back actually at home, I was emotionally neglected as well. I think the parents think for as long as there’s food in the house. I had clothes on my back. I have everything that I need. I’m fine. How am I, how am I emotionally? Physically? Am I fine? Am I sick? Nobody really cared much. Nobody really paid attention to me for as long as my physical needs were met, then everything was fine. So nobody really, I don’t, I don’t believe anybody if they did, maybe they didn’t really put it into consideration. I’m not sure, but yeah.
Shaunestte Terrell (09:42):
Yeah. I think that, you know, culturally around the world that we’re getting better as time goes on about understanding that taking care of children’s emotional needs and mental health is just as important as their physical health. I think it’s the same way in the United States. I know, like when I grew up in the eighties and nineties, it was the same way. If you have clothes on your back and food on the table, what’s your problem. And so they wouldn’t necessarily have noticed that there was this change in you emotionally because they weren’t in tune with that already. So it definitely changed you as a person it sounds like as you continue to grow up, but unfortunately that’s not the last thing that happened to you, is it?
Ayanda Ngema (10:25):
No, it happened again. Okay, so three years down the line after the first incident, I was then moved to stay with my grandmother. She’s not biological in my grandmother. She was just a family friend. She was old. So I referred to her as my grandma. I went to stay with her because I was starting my school year at that time. And she was available 24 7 because my, caregivers previously couldn’t afford bringing me to school with the schedule. So when I was staying with my grand mom, I was nine when the second incident happened. And then the neighborhood where she was staying was very different from the previous one where my friend, father staying, it was more of a township. So I had no privacy anymore. I was supposed to go out and play because during the day kids were all outside playing and now I had to go out and play with other kids, which was very difficult for me because now here I am. I need to relate to this, to these girls who have not experienced what I’ve experienced before.
Ayanda Ngema (11:39):
And that was one of the difficult things for me. And then during that time, there was a lot of gangsters and happenings in the neighborhood. I remember teen boys started smoking, doing drugs, stealing cars. It was just so much happening, all at once. And there was this gang that was very popular in our neighborhood. Everybody knew them, people were scared of them. You know, they were the type that would go to prison. And then a month later you see them walking around the streets again, you know, and it was one of those. They were the ones who took advantage of me the second time around. So what happened is I was nine years old. I was walking back home from playing with my friends. And one of the guys called me to go buy him some cigarettes in one of the nearby tech shops.
Ayanda Ngema (12:34):
I went to buy him cigarettes, came back to give him the cigarettes and then found out that he was not where I had left them before. So I assumed that he was inside his house. Hey, no problem. I go into his house. I knock on the door, they open and then there’s three of them inside there’s music, loud music blasting, smoke, alcohol smelling everywhere. So I gave him the cigarettes. He asked me to step inside and stay. Okay. I decided to take a few steps in because it was just, the environment was just too much. I didn’t want to go inside. He stood up from the couch. He came straight to me, closed the door behind me and locked it and asked for the cigarettes. Okay, no problem. I gave him the cigarettes. My mind was just not, I was not thinking too much. I was just thinking that I needed to go home, take a bath, do my homework and go to school tomorrow. That’s what was on my mind.
Shaunestte Terrell (13:34):
Wait, you were nine years old. So of course, you know.
Ayanda Ngema (13:38):
And then after taking the cigarettes, I’m standing there and the other guy, there was three of them. The other guy tells me to take off my clothes. And I’m thinking, why should I take off my clothes? Immediately my body froze because I knew what was about to happen. I’ve been here before I’ve experienced this before. I don’t know what happened. Honestly. I don’t know what happened, but I just remember fighting. They were holding my hands. I don’t know what way, I don’t know how they took me or carried me from the door to the bed at that part. I don’t know. But what I saw was myself is shaking them off. And one of the guys had a knife with him. So he mistakenly cut my vagina by mistake, trying to calm me down. And to this day I still have a scar. And that’s when I decided that, you know what, let me stop fighting because I might get myself killed. And then they decided to take advantage of me. The three of them. When they were done, I was told that if I tell anyone, they will kill me and I would disappear. My parents will not find my body. So,
Shaunestte Terrell (15:06):
And of course you believe them cause you see them getting in trouble, but then they’re back on the street the next day. So
Ayanda Ngema (15:13):
Right. I went back home and had some very severe physically problems because I ended up not being able to control my bladder. I started peeing on myself. I remember kids in the neighborhood and also at school stopped playing with me because I was a kid that would just randomly pee on herself. And they said that they didn’t want to play with me because I stunk of pee. And my grandmom also at the time, instead of sitting me down and asking why the sudden changes, she will just beat the living hell out of me, — stop peeing on yourself. Whenever I pee on myself she would just pick me up and I would try to explain to her that I cannot control it, but she would not understand what I needed. That made things even worse for me because now I couldn’t trust anyone. I couldn’t trust her. I couldn’t trust strangers. Kids at the school were making fun of me teachers as well.
Ayanda Ngema (16:26):
Like there were certain teachers that just didn’t want me in their classes because I would just pee on myself randomly and they would call my Gran to come at school and fetch me. And she would even beat me up in front of the school, kids in the name of, you know, teaching me a lesson so that I stopped doing what I’m doing, you know? And that made things worse for me. It made my childhood even worse than before. I started isolating myself again, stopped playing with other kids. Sometimes I’d even skip school because being at school was just, it was just too much. It was too much for me. And
Shaunestte Terrell (17:13):
Was there, did you have anyone, was there any person at all in your life who showed you any type of care whatsoever?
Ayanda Ngema (17:26):
None. And those were the times when I wish that my mom was present in my life. Though, I understood the situation, I still didn’t understand why she had disappeared to an extent where she’d even go for years without coming to see me. And I believe if she would have came during those days, I believe I would’ve spoken to her. I believe I would’ve trusted her enough to tell her what was happening. Unfortunately I did not.
Shaunestte Terrell (18:01):
So you said that you withdrew within yourself even more and did that last for a long time? Again, I think it probably changed you and your entire personality at that point in time because it happened again and you had no one to look out for you.
Ayanda Ngema (18:19):
Everything changed. My self-esteem was broken. I was disgusted by myself. I was afraid of men, especially male teachers at school. Any men were just a threat to me. And I started because now I was not out there with other kids. I started reading a lot, you know, focus on my schoolwork. And the more I did that, the more my school marks also improved. And then people were paying attention to me. You know, whenever I come home with an A report, everybody was just so happy for me. You know, look at the love that I’ve always wanted to get. Teachers started paying attention to me at school. Kids, now wanting to be next to me. And I was like Oh, ok so in order for me to receive the love that I’ve always been craving for I needed to basically be an A student.
Ayanda Ngema (19:23):
So that’s what I did. I started focusing on my school . Reading all the time, being home, right, doing this participating at school so that I could see the love there as well. So that at home, everybody would buy me gifts. And I think I used that as my coping mechanism to kind of bury this trauma somewhere in my mind, so much that I ended up being a people pleaser and being a teacher pet. You know, I wanted to be loved by my teachers. Well, and it went on for years and years. And then after high school, I went to university to study accounting at the university of Johannesburg.
Ayanda Ngema (20:15):
And I was the first person in my family to go to university so man, everybody was just excited. I was excited. You know, everyone was just so happy for me. You know, I’m like, oh wow. You know, if I knew that I had to be an A student to be loved at home, I would have done this long, long ago. When I got to university, however, that’s when everything changed. Nobody prepared me for what I was about to face in a university. Being independent meeting people from every background from everywhere in the world. And here I was, oh, I was a big fish in a small pond. You know, here I am big, huge, and there are too many big fishes. And now I feel threatened. I feel, I felt pressure as well that I’m not good enough. Other people are better than me. And that hit me. It hit me so much.
Shaunestte Terrell (21:23):
Because like throwing yourself into your schoolwork kind of was your salvation. It was your coping mechanism and you got so much positive reinforcement from it. It kind of became your whole world. It sounds like. And then you go to another place where it’s not that way anymore. And it sounds like a lot of those old insecurities came back just rushing into your life.
Ayanda Ngema (21:43):
Yes, that’s exactly what happened. And my academic life started falling back and the more that happened, the more problems came up that I had buried with my schoolwork that started coming back and I had to face it, whether I liked it or not. And because I did not understand what was happening with me, I ended up indulging in unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drinking. I started drinking, partying, clubbing, going out, excessive sex, and smoking. I even ended up doing drugs because I started attracting that kind of people into my life as well because of the spaces that I was going to and the friends that I was making. And the more I did those things with the hopes to numb what I was going through, the pain just got worse. It got worse. The hole that I was trying to fill with alcohol and with drugs, it was just getting worse and worse. The turning point came second term. And I just came back from a party. I’m hung over. I get into my apartment. I find a letter by the door. I’m being evicted because I actually drank all my rent money for that month.
Ayanda Ngema (23:27):
My report card — Oh, my word. It was a huge F because I was not participating in class anymore. I was not doing what I was supposed to do with my schoolwork. And here I was sitting with an eviction letter and a report that said I need to rewrite all my subjects so that I can be admitted again to that same course. And I don’t know how many hours I sat on the floor thinking ‘what happened?’ This is not me. This is not me. This is not who I was. And I sat there for hours crying my heart out hoping something would change and praying.
Ayanda Ngema (24:21):
And then I stood up, I looked myself in the mirror and I told myself that something was going to change. What I’m doing right now or what I’m facing right now is something that has to come that I need to face. I then left university and took all my bags. I went to stay with my mom. Of course, my mom was disappointed at me. That, you know, you go to university to get a better future for yourself. And here you are, you come back home. She was just disappointed at me. And I understand the disappointment. I would have been disappointed as well if I was in her shoes. And that was when I decided that something has to change. I need to understand what’s happening with me because the drinking, the partying is not helping me. It’s making me feel worse. Something pressed the triggers I was having triggers left, right and center. Especially the smell of cigarettes used to trigger me so much. And I started having flashbacks as well, which I didn’t know how to control. I just felt like I could not control my life. And it was just making me go crazy that I can’t control my own life.
Ayanda Ngema (26:00):
So I started joining Facebook groups of people who have gone through similar experiences as me. Just hearing their stories, what they wrote, what they were going through. It was then I realized, oh, well, I’m not the only person who was going through this. Right. And what I’m going through is totally normal. It’s part of the journey especially if you don’t deal with the trauma when you need to. And I remember I read a post of a lady that said her coping mechanism was writing and expressing what she was feeling because she did not have anybody to talk to. So she just used the group to express how she was feeling, what she was thinking, what she was going through whenever she’d have a trigger. And I decided to try that out as well, because I felt that I related so much her story with not having anyone to speak to. And I tried it. I started by writing pieces, bits and pieces of poetry, just to try and explain what I was going through physically, emotionally, spiritually as well. What I was experiencing, what I was thinking, what I was feeling, and then
Shaunestte Terrell (27:18):
I’m gonna stop you there real quick. Just so is it fair to say that when you starting going to these Facebook groups, this is the first time you made that connection, that link between the trauma and those destructive behaviors that you had been exhibiting for that period of time? Was that when you first realized, oh, there’s a connection here.
Ayanda Ngema (27:39):
Yes. That was the first time I realized it.
Shaunestte Terrell (27:42):
It sounds like that was the turning point. Just making that connection first. And then from there, starting with poetry was kind of the beginning of your path to healing.
Ayanda Ngema (27:57):
Yes, yes it was. And I started to write down as well what I was thinking, what I was feeling, My journey, basically just journaling it down. It helped me so much because now I had a platform or a medium to express what I was feeling. All these emotions I had bottled up for all these years without having anyone to talk to. And then as time went on, when I opened myself up to healing. I also started attracting people into my life who helped me towards my healing journey. And the first person that came into my life, her name was Beatrice Atcholeke she was originally from Camaroon but she had been in Austria for 20 years or something like that. So she had come back to South Africa to start a new life and see, you know, how South Africa is. And I met her at an event that I was attending and she was an emcee at the event. And she shared her story with the audience. And I was like, oh wow. She was also a survivor of sexual abuse. And I was like, oh wow. After the event, I’m just going to be brave, speak to her and see where the connection takes us. And when I spoke to her she was like, oh wow, I’m also an author I’ve written these books . I can actually help you. I don’t mind helping you with your journey. And we started talking. She was the very first person I ever told about what had happened to me. She gave me a platform to express how I was feeling. She listened to me without any judgment, because I was afraid that she would judge me or also point fingers that I was the one who put this on myself because that’s how I had been feeling my whole entire life. And she just listened to me. Without saying anything. And then when I was done telling her my story, the only thing she did was just to hug me. And that was it. Then from there on that was when my healing journey started. She became my developmental coach. I moved in with her as well.
Ayanda Ngema (30:14):
She asked me to move in with her so that we can do this healing thing face-to-face while I’m close to her. That was when my healing journey initially started. And one of the first things she made me become aware of was that in order for me to heal, I need to understand that it’s not about what happened to me, but it’s about how I perceive what happened to me. It’s about how I see or react rather to what happen to me. And that was the aha moment for me, you know, because I was like, oh, okay. So yes, I was sexually abused at a very young age.
Ayanda Ngema (31:03):
But, I have a choice to either take that experience and let it be detrimental in life or take it and use it to become a better version of myself. So I had a choice, so, which choice was I taking, right? And that was eye opening for me. It made also the healing journey so much easier because now I can understand that it’s how I choose to react to the situation. So we started with a lot of things. She taught me affirmations. Oh. And she told me something that was very, very important. It’s changed my life completely, which was to create an environment that was going to allow me to thrive in my dream, my healing journey. And by that, she meant that in my whichever space I’m in, I need to design in a way that it will help me towards my healing, whether it be the color of the room, you know, or paintings that I’m putting in the room or the music that I listened to, the videos that I watch, I need to be very observant of the things that I consume on a daily basis. Because those are the things that are going to hinder me or make me excel with my healing journey. And that was the first part and it was like “Man, where have you been my whole life?”
Shaunestte Terrell (32:40):
No one really thinks about that. About how much you really do internalize the things that you’re seeing and hearing everyday, because we’re just so used to the constant noise and background in the videos and social media and what an effect it really does have on your mental health.
Ayanda Ngema (32:56):
Yes. Yes. And since then, I’ve been very careful of the type of content that I consume. Because I will say that the content that I consume can also trigger me. There are certain things that, especially on social media, people talk about everything and anything. There are certain posts that I find triggering. And if that is the case I delete or block that person, because I don’t want anything that’s going to trigger me. And that was the first thing that she taught me. And then when I started mastering that. We went into the second thing, which she called Level Two, which was then working on my confidence. The first thing she did was she booked a photo shoot. And I didn’t know it that she had booked me a photo shoot. Then I see people are coming in with cameras and she was just like ok, girl, go dress up it’s time for a photo shoot. Oh, okay. Wow. And then we did a photo shoot. The first one.
Ayanda Ngema (33:58):
And then we did the photo shoot, which was unannounced. They took pictures. I had to dress up and pose and then it was done. Right. Okay. She kept the pictures aside. And then after that we started working on my confidence. She told me how my physical appearance, as well, it’s very, very important. My structure, my body structure, it’s very important. The way I carry myself says a lot about what I was feeling internally. If I can change what’s happening in the inside, if I find that I’m finding it difficult to change what’s going on inside, I can change it by my body. The way that I’m sitting will eventually change. So if I’m slouched, I’ll just blah the whole day. But if I decided to sit up, in my brain something happens. And then also the way that I see myself, view myself changes. So I tried it for a couple of weeks. We did certain exercises for a week and I could see the changes. And was like “Oh actually, yes” this works.
Ayanda Ngema (35:16):
And then on the second photo shoot, we took pictures. Now I had this knowledge. So I was very much aware of my body, my clothing as well. How I was smiling, how I was standing. I was very much aware of myself. Then after the second photo shoot was done, she then took the pictures from the first photo shoot and the second photo shoot and she made me analyze them. I was like “oh”. I could see a big difference. In that first photo shoot you could see that I was not very much confident because of my body language, you know. The way that I was posing, smiling, everything just shouted, lack of confidence. You know, I don’t trust myself. Then the second photo shoot was like “Oh, wow.” Whoa. That made me so much better. I learned from this woman, I learned a lot from her.
Shaunestte Terrell (36:20):
She sounds like an absolutely amazing person.
Ayanda Ngema (36:23):
She is, she is. I’m so, so grateful that I met her.
Ayanda Ngema (36:47):
And then after that, that lesson was done. The last thing that she helped me with was of course, my book. She helped me with writing my book. She made me understand what I was thinking. Because now I knew I was very much aware of the trauma that I been through, what I experienced and how I was expected to be emotionally and physically and obviously literally. I was able to articulate my message very well as compared to prior. And she helped me with editing my book as well. She just opened my mind, you know. She’d ask me questions. She’d say “Okay, fine. I see that you’ve written this paragraph. What do you want your audience to get from reading it? Yes, you are telling me your story. I get that but, is the person who is going to be reading this story going to take something, gain something positive from this story?” And that changed the way that I was writing by books as well, because now I was looking at it at a different angle. I was not looking at it as if I was just pouring myself into these words. But I was pouring myself with a purpose. So that anybody that reads the books gets healing because that’s what I learned. That’s what I got these few months of staying with her. As soon as my book was done, the photo shoot was done, everything was done that was when our meeting ended. And I never saw her again. She moved back to Austria and I haven’t seen her since then. We just communicate virtually. So I’m very, very grateful for the knowledge that she imparted in me because it helped me to become the woman that I am today. She helped me learn to articulate my story in a way that it benefits the other person who’s listening or who’s reading my books. So yeah, that was my turning point.
Shaunestte Terrell (38:54):
I mean, that’s so beautiful. And it sounds like, you know, she was the adult that you needed when you were a child and you know, unfortunately not out of a lack of love or anything, but none of the adults in your life were able to do that for you. Do you have any advice for adults? You know, who have children in their lives, things that they can look out for in terms of preventive efforts, but also what to do for a child who has been abused.
Ayanda Ngema (39:21):
Okay. For any parent, for any friend of a survivor I’ll advise you that that they must be very attentive, especially to children. They must be very attentive at analyzing the changes of a child that has been abused. Children are very expressive. It’s either. If they don’t talk you can see it in their actions. Pay attention to the changes. If you see something that is bothering you, ask them, talk to them, make them feel safe, provide a safe space for the child to be able to open up and tell you what happened if they went through sexual abuse. And also compassion. And love. That is a very crucial part in the healing journey of a survivor. When you show them compassion, you show them love without judgment. Because as survivors we tend to judge ourselves a lot.
Shaunestte Terrell (40:38):
Is there anything else that you can think of that you want to say that would be helpful for survivors of child sexual abuse, the professionals who work with them or the loved ones?
Ayanda Ngema (40:47):
Healing is possible. Healing and forgiveness is very much possible. And it starts with you being consciously, being ready to heal, being ready to forgive. If you are not ready within and I tell you that healing is possible, you can do this, you can do that… If you are not ready yourself, it’s going to be a waste of time. So everything, starts with you first. Healing starts with you and healing starts in the mind as well. You need to tell yourself mentally that now I am ready to heal. And also healing needs work. You put in the work. You need to have a blueprint of some sort, and then you need to follow the blueprint and healing does not take a month or a week. Healing is a journey. And by journey, I mean there are ups and there are downs and, but just because you face the down part of the healing does not mean that you need to give up. We need to stand up, dust yourself off and try again. So just know that healing and forgiveness is possible. I’ve done it. And if I can do it, everyone else can do it!
Shaunestte Terrell (42:05):
That’s really beautiful. Thank you. I think that’s such an important thing for people to hear that they’re not alone and that healing is possible. And even in those darkest days that there is a way to the other side. Okay. So we always end the podcast with three questions, the same questions. First, what does courage mean to you?
Ayanda Ngema (42:25):
Courage to me means doing what needs to be done. Doing it whether you are afraid. Doing it whether you are not sure. Doing it when you are doubting yourself. Doing it when you don’t feel like doing it. But doing it because it needs to be done. For me, that is what courage is.
Shaunestte Terrell (42:48):
I love that. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?
Ayanda Ngema (42:59):
It is advice that I got from Beatrice. Uh, sorry for my language, but she used to tell me on my dark days, she’d be like, you know what Ayanda, shit happens. But it matters how you decide to see it. And that was the best advice I ever received. Shit happens to all of us, everyone. The queen or the president of the world shit happens to everybody. But it’s just a matter of how you choose to look at it.
Shaunestte Terrell (43:37):
So true. And then lastly, what is one question that you wish more people would ask you?
Ayanda Ngema (43:41):
Oh wow. How to build resilience after experiencing childhood sexual abuse?
Shaunestte Terrell (43:52):
Well, you certainly know the answer to that. I mean, we’re so grateful that you came on today, you know, transforming from victim to survivor to activist is such a noble and compelling journey and definitely one fraught with difficulties. And as we always say, the path to healing is not linear. It’s kind of, you know, sometimes four steps back, two steps forward. So thank you for sharing that journey with us and for all the help that you give to survivors every day in your life. I wish you nothing but the best. And we thank you so sincerely for being on the show today.
Ayanda Ngema (44:26):
Thank you so much. Thank you for having me and thank you to everybody that’s listening. I hope you guys were able to grab a thing too that’s going to help you towards the healing journey. Thank you so much.
Shaunestte Terrell (44:39):
And as always to the listeners, thank you for listening. Submit any questions or requests for guests at Support for survivors dot com. Thanks so much for listening and we will see you next time.