It took Lynn Kerchhoff seven years to find the courage to publish her book, My Shack – a story of hope, which tells of her healing after she was sexually assaulted as a child.
The 44-year-old from Belthorn Estate wrote her autobiography seven years ago, but it was only during lockdown that she decided to have it printed, after talking about gender-based violence with her children and reading so much about it on social media.
Ms Kerchhoff hopes sharing her story might help others. “Sometimes we have to make ourselves vulnerable to help others. This book is for all who suffered traumatic events, not just those who are sexual-assault survivors. I want to encourage all of us to make the choice to live and not just to exist.”
The book tells her story of growing up in Athlone – with all its social ills – and how someone known to the family sexually assaulted her at 11.
She said she felt grateful that she had found thenstrength to tell her story. “My healing journey came when
I acknowledged that I am broken. The trauma of the 11-year-old child came flooding back. My 11-year-old self old me I allowed it to happen. I had to forgive myself. It is paramount that you forgive yourself.”
Ms Kerchhoff said publishing her book, which made its appearance ahead of the annual 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children Campaign, had not been easy.
“It was difficult. My family had to make a lot of sacrifices because publishing and editing came with a lot of bills. I am blessed that I have their support though.”
The book also offered “a glimpse”of violence in South Africa and “the contradictory emotions that accompany rites of passage for women”, she said.
“For many years, I lived my life according to what I thought people thought of me. I was never good enough. I always felt as though I didn’t have enough money, that I wasn’t slim enough or smart enough. My hair wasn’t the right strand and I didn’t wear the latest fashion. I allowed external factors to dictate who I was and I started to believe the lies of my inadequacy. I am here to say that that is the past. I overcame and found the authentic me. There is immense power in embracing who we are.”
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