A Cape Flats granny is retelling her painful story of molestation, abuse and drug addiction in the hopes of healing her community.
Valerie Adams, 66, better known as Aunty Val, is part of a group of women in Lavender Hill who have published a book highlighting their swaarkryery.
The book, Women Surviving Lavender Hill, was written by Auntie Val, Naema Moses, Margaret Arendse, Mary Bam, Veronica Kroukamp, Sheila Jacobs and Lorna Snyman and stems from a two-year writing project facilitated by a community organisation New World Foundation (NWF).
Aunty Val’s story of abuse started when she was a little girl being raised by her godparents.
“My mother moved from place to place and I stayed with them. My godfather would always come to my room and put his hand in my panties and I never knew anything was wrong,” she says.
“A couple of years ago I went to a workshop and only as an adult I realised that I was molested. Nobody spoke about this stuff when I was a child.”
In 1972, she married her husband Abel and they moved to Rooshof in Lavender Hill where the couple raised three daughters and two sons.
Aunty Val says a few years into the marriage, her husband became violent and abusive towards her.
“Ek het opgestaan en gedink hy gaan nie vir my so slaan nie. So I took one of those big asbakkies and moered him with it. I don’t know where I got the strength,” she says.
The mom says one of her biggest fears was the influence of gangsterism on her children.
And then a skollie approached one of her sons to sell drugs for a local gang.
“So I went up to them and told them to leave my children alone. Ek was baie kwaad,” she says.
After her husband died in her arms, Aunty Val thought the worst part of her life was over, but then her youngest son started using tik.
“Ek was baie bang and I slept behind a locked door. He was very abusive and made me so mad that I even stood over him with a knife and just wanted to kill him. But I could never do that, despite all the torture.”
Her son later got the help he needed and Aunty Val, together with the other women, started writing her life story.
“You know, we never thought it would be published. But just telling the stories brought us so much healing and understanding of what had happened to us and how we pushed on.
“In Lavender Hill there are so many women who are going through the same things. But I have learnt there is power in speaking up and not being silent,” she explains.
NWF programme manager Kim Pillay says the organisation self-published the books to sell, at R50 each, to the community. All the proceeds go to the writers.
Call NWF on 021 701 1150 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.