At age 14, I was raped by my boyfriend, and I was unaware that my violation was a sexual assault and continued to see my abuser for another six months before breaking up. Then I tried to forget it. This memory was blocked, as if nothing happened, until two years later, upon seeing an Instagram video that triggered flashbacks of my own assault.
Almost one-in-five men in my country have sexually abused a girl or a woman, including in romantic relationships. Determined to understand what had happened to me, I learned more about sexual harassment and abuse, and later began raising awareness in my community.
Last year, I joined a Women youth mentorship program, where I was trained on gender equality and human rights and learned to identify abuse and challenge sexist comments and harassment.
I went on to develop a self-help guide for sexual violence survivors, which, informed by survivors aged 12 – 21, offers practical guidance to seek help, report abuse, and access trauma recovery resources.
Against the backdrop of cultural victim-blaming, which prevents those who need it from getting help, the mentoring program focuses on feminist values and diversity, and addresses the root causes of the gender inequalities and stereotypes that perpetuate GBV and discrimination. The program has shown that youth activism and engagement is key to eliminating gender inequalities in our societies.