Barrier Breaker of the Month of May 2021
The Barrier Breaker of the month of May 2021 Is…
Cheryl Zondi, a 25 year old Marketing Management Graduate of the University of Johannesburg, a singer and songwriter, public speaker / motivational speaker and recently a voice over artist. She also has a foundation that helps people that have been abused but currently not active.
In 2018 I decided to speak up about sexual abuse that I had suffered from a church I used to be part of from the age of thirteen. This church was a radical church, youths everywhere, desiring God. Thirteen going on fourteen, I really needed Christ and a home to call my own, a place I could go to when I wanted to talk to God. That church became that for me and I also became a singer there. Unfortunately it also led to me being abused by this Pastor from the age of fourteen to sixteen and at the age of nineteen. My beliefs were used to manipulate me and to believe that at that age I needed to please this guy sexually to make it to heaven or in order for me to succeed and make something of myself.
Jois: Did you know that what He was doing was wrong?
Cheryl: I knew that I did not like it, I didn’t want it. Knowing that he was wrong, that’s where it got a little blurry for me. In my head and everyone that went or is still going to that church, this person is like God’s best friend, he can’t do anything wrong. If he was doing any wrong, because he did it, it was right and that’s what I believed. I believed that I did not have the right to question him. If I love my life and I want to stay alive, I’m just gonna keep my head down and get rid of all these devil thoughts that he’s wrong. I knew what I felt about it but I did not believe that I was worthy enough or strong enough in God’s eyes to stand up and say that he was wrong.
People need to know that Pastor’s, Pastor’s Kids, Prophets, Church Mother, Choir Master or anyone in any leadership position are first human beings before the title they hold or who they are and so if they are doing wrong, they need to be corrected. They are not God’s assistant, or Jesus’ brother nor do they hold any position in heaven that allows them to abuse anyone. When Lucifer was in heaven and wanted to take over from God, he was sent out of heaven. So who are you on earth to misuse the little title that you’ve been given to abuse or mishandle anyone. If you’re surrounded by such people and they cannot take correction or they think that they are right and can just do anything (which mostly hurts another person), then I suggest you leave that environment.
Cheryl: I went back to the church again because I needed some closure. I needed to know whether I was wrong. I was also seeking an apology because I thought maybe he was sorry for what he did and that maybe he needed help but He wasn’t.
Jois: There are a lot of people in abusive relationships and some stay because of their kids, others stay because they think their spouse needs help or to be saved and so they just stay, trying to be a savior but most of these abusers know what they are doing and they keep lying. PLEASE if you find yourself in such situations, get out of there. “THE LIFE YOU SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN”.
What made you speak up?
This was eight years in the making. It was a lot of breaking and falling and rebuilding myself from that. There are things in your life that change you forever and so there are parts of myself that I will never see or know again because of this. I also went to therapy and and dealt with it. In those eight years I was breaking and falling apart, regressing, using abusive substances but something clicked after I went back at nineteen that this is wrong and I don’t deserve to be ashamed here because I have done nothing wrong. Most of the boldness that people see, I credit it to God because He gives me strength.
Another thing was anger. I was more angry than I was afraid. I needed to direct this anger to the person who planted it, and look into his eyes and let him know that he was wrong. He made me believe that I will not amount to anything.
I was also very fortunate to get the support of my family who knew what I’d been through. They are the most important people in my life and I didn’t care what anyone said as long as they had my back. I do not know where I’d be without my family support.
I’ve learnt that I can survive anything. I’ve been pushed and broken and pushed even further and that’s taught me that I can survive anything. Also I’ve learnt that I’m strong but I do not need to be strong all the time. There’s this image that people have of me that I’m hard, that chick that is ready for a fight (lol) but I am delicate, soft, fragile and vulnerable.
Also everything that I need is within me and I do not need to go look for it elsewhere. I wish I knew that earlier because a lot of pain could have been avoided but we live and learn and teach others so they know better.
The last lesson I’ve learnt is to never live my life in a way that makes life convenient for anyone else. I am not packaged for convenience. I am not here to make people uncomfortable. If who and what I am makes you uncomfortable, I am not sorry because that’s who I am and it’s beautiful and lovely and if you are for me, you will accept it and if not, you can keep it moving! I have told myself to be real, just be honest and true to yourself. No matter what image people have of you, live your life in a way that gives you peace and makes you happy. Don’t ever settle for suffering all in the name of someone’s convenience.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known when you were younger?
I will teach myself not to fear myself. I’ve spent a lot of my life holding back on things, manipulating my potential because of fear. I’ll tell the younger me not to be so afraid. Not to be so scared of trying things and scared of standing on my own feet. I will tell myself not to worry and just live. I am the kind of person that worries a lot and has anxiety that the beautiful moments can sometimes pass me by. So I’ll tell myself not to be afraid, not to be afraid of the possibilities and what I can do and never let anyone make me feel less than or that I am not good enough. Say what you feel, wear that dress you want to wear, go where you want to go, meet the people you want to meet. JUST BE!!!
However you find yourself reacting, it’s fine, give yourself time because sometimes we punish ourselves for things that we feel we allowed to happen to us. Don’t punish yourself, don’t cause more harm than what has already been done to you. You do not deserve this and you did not do this to yourself. It’s okay to feel whatever way you’re feeling. A lot of people like to classify victims, rape survivors and box us and say No, “You should dress like this, you should speak like this, you should not feel this way and you should not react to what happened to you this way.”
There is nothing to be ashamed of. Don’t hide away in shame and think that your story is too gruesome or too disgusting or too ugly to share. The moment we embrace that and accept it for what it is, the moment we start finding freedom. So don’t hide; you will have peace the moment you speak up.
You’re worthy of so much better. You didn’t deserve that. It’s important to put these criminals behind bars. If they’ve done it to you, they’ve done it before and they will do it again and you could be a contributor in putting the person away and making sure that this does not happen again, IT STOPS HERE! It’s also important to put yourself first and decide on the way to deal with it the best way for you. Don’t ever feel pressured to speak or act at a certain time. Sometimes you need time. I needed 8 years, someone else may need a few months or five years. Just allow yourself to go through it and just know most importantly that you do not deserve it and the shame does not belong to you.
Don’t walk around like you have something to be ashamed of. You’re not damaged goods, you’re worthy of the best marriage, the best person, the best life, the best that life can offer you even after that has happened to you. It does not decrease your value in any way.
Jois: Thank you Cheryl for coming on here to share your story, I am super grateful. If you want to support Cheryl https://instagram.com/cheryl_zondi?utm_medium=copy_link and her foundation https://instagram.com/cherylzondifoundation?utm_medium=copy_link kindly follow her on Instagram.
She has helped some people who have been abused navigate the justice system. “I have had the honor to hold these people’s hands as they navigate and at some point carry on on their own. Also educating people on abuse in sacred places and how it’s a lot deeper than just sexual; A lot goes into it”.