Cape Town - A 43-year-old woman of Valhalla Park who was raped at the age of 16 started an NGO to help others who have gone through similar trauma.
Chrishandow Adonis-Hendricks, started the NGO Broken Wings as a crisis centre to help rape and trauma survivors.
“We have four centres, all based in the Northern Suburbs, that offer help to both boys and girls who have been raped or have gone through any kind of trauma, be it bullying or physical abuse,” said Adonis-Hendricks.
“We also provide support for women who are victims of gender-based violence and we work closely with other organisations when trying to connect survivors with the right services.”
She said one of their main aims was to provide the human element that people often need when they have experienced traumatic events.
“When you have been raped, you don’t need someone standing in front of you with a clipboard You need a hug and for someone to show empathy for what you have faced.
“I started Broken Wings because at the age of 16 I was raped by someone I knew very well, he was a priest in our community,” she said.
Trying to hold back her tears, Adonis-Hendricks spoke about the fateful day she had let the priest into her home, an act which changed the course of her life.
“In our community, it was usual for members of the church to check on children when they got home from school, because many of the parents were working.
“I let him in and I made him tea because I trusted him,” she said.
She said that the man then spiked her tea and her mind began to feel numb.
“Even though I could feel myself losing consciousness, I tried to fight him off as best I could before I blacked out. When I woke up, my collarbone was broken, my shoulder was dislocated, my breasts had bruises and my nose was broken. Many of those scars I still carry with me to this day.”
After what happened to her came to light, many people started victim- blaming her, asking how she could accuse a man of God of raping her, she said.
Two years after Adonis-Hendricks was raped, she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.
“The man who raped me had the Human papillomavirus (HPV), which can only be transferred from man to woman through sexual contact, and can cause cervical cancer.
“At that point, I was in a very dark place in my life, and even contemplated suicide.
“My rapist was given only a 10-year-sentence,” she said.
Adonis-Hendricks said by starting Broken Wings, she was able to regain her power and give strength to others who were also survivors of rape, trauma and abuse.
“This is my purpose in life and something I needed to do to give back to society,” she said.