Mentor Abuse, Rape, Divorce and Hope

Leonie, South Africa


Dear doctor Patti,

Thank you for writing your book. I am writing to you from South Africa. I was in a toxic relationship at University with an older man; he would verbally harass me and manipulated me into sleeping with him. I was very unhappy for a long time. I went into a hospital to escape my situation and still went back to him. After we split up I became a lot stronger until one night I was out with my friends, they left me at a party, and I got talking to a guy I was acquainted with, we got into a taxi and ended up at his hotel room. I blacked out and woke up and he was having sex with me, there was also someone else in the room at that time, and I was petrified. He had me pinned down and wouldn't even let me go for a glass of water. I had to endure three hours of this until he had to leave. I couldn't understand what had happened to me and went back to my flat, my flatmate when I told her very gently said I had been raped and should call the police. I spoke to my friend who I had been out with the night before, and she was devastated that she had left me. We went to a clinic, and I got tested for everything and was fine. I subsequently was very vulnerable and entered a relationship soon after; it turned out that this man was not a sexual abuser, but he started shoving me when he was stressed or in a bad mood. I married this man, not having slept with him and on our honeymoon, he refused to consummate the marriage and called me a whore, essentially he was a controller. So I left him, this is due to one of my very strong girlfriends who helped me. I live with other girls now, and I am well on my way to mending, I actively sought out counseling and am making sure I don't allow myself to get into vulnerable situations. I am thriving at work and socially and I actively ensure that no man ever treats me the way I have been treated by those in the past. I believe that what doesn't kill you indeed can make you stronger. I am working full time in a corporate position, and I am going to be studying for my masters part time next year in Human Rights, I think what I would like to do is help women refugees in the future as often they are the ones who have been through immense amounts of abuse and needed people to help protect them.
You can be strong after suffering and I hope the steps I have taken with my life help someone else get out of a situation they seem to be trapped in. There is always hope.


Dr. Patti Responds:


Dear Leonie,
You have been through so much. Iris’s story in our book is much like your abuse in the hotel.  I can only guess that you have not had a family life that was loving, strong, supportive, encouraging.... But it sounds as if you have found your "chosen family"- the girls that you are living with - You had your human rights taken away from you with these abusive relationships, but you got out each time.  This will be inspiring for all the people you help in your life. I hope that Invisible Girls and the have helped you realize that the abuse was not your fault.  I hope you now have the insight to realize that you can heal and that if you are in the right counselling and the right home situation, work situation, that you will have a happy fulfilled life. I too believe that what does not kill you will only make you stronger from what I have learned from the thousands of girls and women that have reached out. All the best!

xo dr. p