I was about EIGHT when I started taking piano classes, on weekends when I could and three times a week in the summer. I took classes for about three years, by a personal trainer that would come home. At first it was great, I was actually pretty good at it. I have always been a music lover.

I had a teacher in his mid-forties (if my memory serves right), he was a very kind and gentle man. He was average height, with gray hair in his beard, and looked like the typical Ethiopian man. This man stole my first kiss and the most intimate moments a girl is meant to share with someone she loves. He didn't start molesting me from day one. He took his time to get to earn my trust and waited until I regarded him as an adult who always had in mind what was best for me, a trick right out o fan expert manipulator's handbook. I was a little girl, innocent and naive. He preyed on my innocence and took advantage of my naiveté.         

In the months that followed, he started touching me; he would put his hands on my lap, touching me over my jeans then proceeding to go inside my pants. He would then take my hand to put it on his penis motioning me to perform a hand job, training my little fist to do what he wanted.. He would sit me on top of the piano I was meant to be playing, licking my vagina touching himself. My body was confused. I did not understand what the sensations were but only that they were pleasurable. I felt dirty, worthless and guilty. Also felt that I had no voice. 

One day, he carried me and put me on the living room floor of our apartment, which was by the road side.  He started brushing his penis on my vagina. I remember this day so vividly because in this moment I focused all my attention on the people walking on the streets going about their daily business wondering what they would say if they saw me. Or if they knew what he was doing to me. Would they help? Would they judge me? Did they care? Did anyone care? His body was so heavy on top of me and his breath suffocating. Everything he was doing felt so deeply wrong, I felt irredeemably bad to the bone. I wanted to scream and scream loud but I was sacred. I was always scared. Somehow I felt it was his world and that all I could do was comply.

My ordeal continued over a course of three years, yet I can only put together pieces of it in my memory. Everything happened in my parents house, a place I called home. A place I was meant to feel the safest.

I never really tried telling anyone because he threatened to kill himself. He said he couldn’t live without me, that he loved and adored me. He said if I told anyone they would take him away from me and that he would kill himself. As an eight year old the idea of death is something I barely understood, yet it terrified me and I was sure I didn’t want to be the cause of it. Plus I did feel loved, or at least what I understood to be love at that time. His words were carefully designed to brainwash me into thinking he wanted the best for me. 

I also I felt guilty, that I must have somehow caused it myself. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that it was my fault and I was disgusting. Not just for feeling sexual sensations but also for carrying the body parts. I felt he what he was doing something wrong but my body reacted to it so I must have also been sick! 

In my teens, there were days where I felt so overwhelmed, days where I felt misunderstood, angry and mostly disgusting. There were days where I couldn’t look myself in the mirror. I would stand in front of the mirror crying for what felt like hours. I would be so consumed with my anxiety and depression. I became addicted to pain killers I would take them to quite the noise in my head at kept telling me I was disgusting and dirty, to numb the pain which felt like was there to stay. 

I hit puberty at about 13 and my body had developed curves. I became the girl with the big butt, that was how people identified me. I know it didn’t come from a bad place and it’s now part of the things I have grown to love about myself, but the way I looked at my body was constructed around my piano teacher’s words and actions. Which made me feel like men always wanted me for the pleasures my body could offer. This and other similar experiences as a young adult translated into how I used my body and let others use it. As an adult, even consensual sex became a tool, a means to deal with my problems, to avoid facing my dark corners. Sometimes it made me weak other times it me feel strong, like a super power. My value became attached to the men I was seeing, the desire and lust they had towards me defined my worth. I always felt like a victim and that part of my being consumed me. It defined me. I didn’t know who I was without that trauma.

Now as an adult, I don’t remember his face anymore but I remember the way he smells. His body odor is seared into my memory and sometimes when I’m in public I smell that scent and I feel like throwing up. I have to walk away and calm down. As a 25 year old, I am just now really learning how to heal. I realize now that am not a victim. That what happened does not define me, nor does he hold the key to my power to transform the way I look at myself. I no longer hold anger and resentment. I am afraid sometimes but that's because the world we live in can be scary. As somebody who just gave birth to a baby girl, it matters to me more than ever help fight this epidemic in our community. I think about how I can help others heal and transform from such traumatic pasts through sharing my story and staying true to my purpose in life. Our culture discourages topics regarding sex and that's exactly how we end up with so many untold stories, unresolved pain debilitating. We need to talk about these things. We need to protect the our girls, as well as our boys. Sexual trauma happens to both genders.

I wanted to share my story because  through reading sexual assault account shared on #metooethiopia page,  I’ve realized the importance of sharing our stories for the healing of ourselves and others. I also recognize the power openness has to prevent assailants from victimizing others. To my heartbreak, while talking to a family member about what happened to me after years had gone by, I was told that this same piano teacher had molested a previous student. I wonder and will always ask myself if he had done the same thing to someone after me? How many children were affected by this man? Had I been able to prevent someone else's suffering? That is an uncomfortable thought I will live with for the rest of my life. 

Story by Milu (Radio Host, Event Promoter, Organizer, and Host)

#MeTooEthiopia #MeToo #Ethiopia #SexualAssault