- Catherine Njeri was raped twice and attempted suicide five times.
- She told her story to an online magazine in a bid to help others – but that did not have the intended effect.
“Before we begin, I just want you to know I am not going to get into the topic that made my story go viral. After it was published (in a tabloid online magazine), I realised that when journalists interview me, they want to concentrate on the sensational part of my story. (But when you do that) you are all missing the point of why I am sharing it in the first place.
“I usually share my story in good faith so I can enlighten people about the effects of rape and how to deal with the resulting mental health issues.
I want to help someone else who might be going through that. But when the press focuses on the messy aspects of (how I reacted to my rape), they turn me into a subject of ridicule.
“The negative comments that result might dissuade people who want to reach out to me for help.
They might say, ‘If she opened up and received all that negativity, then I am going to keep my issues to myself’.
Keeping what happened to me to myself is perhaps what made me act out in the ways that I did.
That is why now I only want to talk about the relevant issues.
“I had a normal childhood. I sunk into depression in 2008 after I was raped twice – the first time at university and the second time at our farm upcountry.
After that, I isolated myself and didn’t share it with anyone. I started feeling suicidal. Before the rape, I had really valued the fact that I was a virgin.
When that was taken away from me, my sense of self-worth diminished. I proceeded to attempt suicide five times.
I went through a long and rough road of self-destruction and made some negative choices as a means of coping. But God had plans for me.
“Through a series of counselling sessions and support from close friends and my pastor, I can say I completely healed last year.
Then I discovered that every time I shared my story (of healing) with someone going through depression, I felt better.
Sharing helped me as much as it helped the other person.
“I don’t regret sharing my story in the media. The outcome has been both good and bad.
It is the trolling that affects me the most. Mental health is seriously misunderstood in Kenya. It is taboo to even talk about it.
That is what I am trying to demystify. Kenya is ranked sixth in suicide prevalence in Africa; we should be talking about it.
“Just the other day a guy posted on social media he was contemplating suicide and people attacked him, calling him a selfish weakling.