By Masuzyo Chakwe and Dziko Mwanza and pictures by Manfred Musa on Monday 17 September 2012, 10:18:00 CAT (79180 Reads)
DESCRIBING 52-year-old Priscilla Musonda Schaufelberger's childhood as suffering is an understatement. Hers can be described as 'hell on earth.'
Priscilla is a survivor of the pits of hell, a victim of an incestuous and violent father - a man who was not content to have her only as a daughter but went further to make her a wife as well and the subject of all sorts of abuse.
At five, he sexually molested her with the full knowledge of her mother. This continued throughout her childhood as she became her father's sex slave.
Priscilla eventually fell pregnant at 17 and later went on to have three more children. Her father, a polygamist, then forced her to marry him to add her to his list of wives.
For close to a decade, Priscilla's father repeatedly raped, abused, beat her like a common criminal and forced her to watch erotic movies.
He would later ask her to perform what she had watched in the erotic movies on him. But Priscilla says she is a survivor and not a victim.
She has since written a book about her life titled 'Stolen Childhood' where she shares details of her life in Zambia as a sexual slave of her father.
The book will be launched on September 29.
She has also founded the Priscilla Schaufelberger Home of Abused Foundation to help children who are or have experienced what she went through.
She shares her story while occasionally breaking down.
Priscilla Musonda Schaufelberger was born in Ndola, Twapia Township on December 18, 1959 to Pellina Musonda and Lewis Musonda, who are both deceased.
"I am the first born in a family of eight but my father was a polygamist; he had three wives. My mother was the second wife," she says.
She says because of her difficult childhood, education was a struggle.
"The abuse started when I was five, that's as far back as my memory can go regarding the scenery and everything and during that time before I started my first grade, it had already started so my education was a bit difficult though I tried to pull myself through. The abuse affected me and my attitude at school. He also helped me with private tuition and sending me for courses which never lasted. I would go to this school but because of his jealousy, I just don't understand whatever was in his mind, I wouldn't go further. But otherwise I didn't complete school because of my same past. I had my first born when I was 18 and thereafter he forcefully married me and up to now, some people still know me as his wife and others know me as his daughter," she says.
Priscilla says she used to live with her grandmother most of the time but in the same area with her parents.
"But I don't know what they were doing. In the evening they came to pick me up from my grandmother's place. I was the only child at the time but I used to sleep with them on the same bed. So I didn't know anything and then on that particular day when it happened, my mother came and told me, 'I love you, you are my daughter', she told me to suck her breast, I was five, I tried to resist but she said she wanted me to believe that she was my mother so I should suck her breast so I did suck her breast and then we went home and after meals we slept and that is the first time my father abused me," she says. "My mother was aware, we used to sleep on the same bed. I had to sleep in the middle. I watched them when they had sex. But I was not to tell when they finished, I remember that my father always made me touch him all over. I was exposed to my father's body at an early age."
She says the first day he abused her, he told her that that day it was not just the touching, he had to penetrate her and she says it was very painful.
Priscilla says that that was the beginning of her nightmare.
"I grew up thinking this is what happens. My mother told me that as I am growing so many things happen to children and you don't have to tell people, that was even before I started nursery and we used to go to this nursery and they would tell us don't tell people it's like betraying your parents. It was just after independence, I started school in 1969 at Twapia Primary," she says.
She says some of her mother's relatives suspected that there was something going on but they could not talk to her openly about it.
"I didn't tell anybody and I could be sick because of not telling anybody and not understanding the situation. When I was 11 years old, I was not at school because no one cared and I would feel bad that 'why is this happening to me', 'why would I miss school?' The abuse was not on a daily basis because sometimes I would go for holidays to my auntie or my grandmother. I never had a good relationship with my mother, I never saw her a lot, I was mostly with my grandmother or the elder sister to my mother and my cousin from my mother's side," she says.
Priscilla says as long as she was at her parents' house, the abuse would go on.
She says her mother later moved to Kawana with his other wife and whilst there; when she visited her, he would not allow her to sleep with the other girls in the house.
"I was sleeping with mum in the bedroom and he would do it, he would come after me with my mother there. I don't know if she was watching, you know this is your father and you are shy. At that age, I didn't ask her why she let him do that to me when I got older I remember asking her. As I grew up I remember I reached puberty and the first time I saw blood I told my cousin and they took me to their house in Lubuto but because of the fear I had, I said that my cousin goes with me. I think I was 11 or 12, they wanted me to go there so this cousin went with me. I remember I was sleeping I had my own bedroom with my cousin but the day my mother came after supper and you know when such things happens, you are isolated and put in a room so my mother came and said 'your father is coming in the night. It was something I got used to having sex with him, but then I said how can he come when they said this is a secret and my cousin is here. But I didn't ask her I was talking to myself," she says.
Priscilla says at this time, her mother was no longer sharing a house with the other wife.
"I was thinking I was told that these things happen to children and I am not supposed to reveal the secret, how come my father is coming with my cousin here? But I didn't express that and me and my cousin were quiet, we didn't say anything to each other and I didn't know that my cousin was told that the moment I reach puberty, she should get my soiled pant. We are an age apart and she asked me where my pant was. With this tradition I thought she was going to wash it so I gave her the pant but I don't know what they did with it," she says. "At midnight or so, dad came in, he had a towel in his waist, that was his system of moving in the house and then he abused me in the presence of my cousin. It was dark though. I still had my period and I couldn't understand anything. I felt him getting under the bedding naked and touching me. I had goose pimples. I was cold and numb. I felt it hard! He abused me and he sounded very excited, groaning and making a lot of noises. I thought they betrayed me and my cousin now knew about this secret so how do I talk about it, how do I feel when I go to school, what is she going to tell her friends about me? And if she told them, how are they going to look at me, so sometimes I even feared going to school and would just sit and pass time around," she narrates. "From there, one of my uncles, a part-time policeman, the elder brother to my mother came to visit and this was after the same incident. My cousin went back because I called her and asked her if she heard what happened and she said she did and was surprised and that she would leave as she didn't want to stay there anymore. She got scared or something and went to my grandmother's place."
Priscilla says her uncle was like a father in the family because her grandfather died when she was five so he was like the father.
"He came to visit grandmother and I happened to go and see him. He would come and then pass through mother's place but this time, he never came, I suspect - though I have no proof - that my cousin could have mentioned it because they knew they had hints that such things were going on, just that they didn't want to talk about it. So my uncle came, my mother had gone to the market, it was a Saturday and I remained with two of my young sisters and my brother and my uncle took me from that place and I was very excited, we went to Mansa but two days later my mother followed me to Mansa with a air ticket," she says. "My father was comfortable, not poor but middle class. He was a freelance photographer. He was quite a successful person in photography, he is the one that actually took photos of the late president Levy Mwanawasa's wedding, so you can see where he was at that time. Each of his wives were staying in different homes and I think they didn't know what was going on; that he was sleeping with me. We knew each other and two of the wives used to get along, my mother and one but the other one (youngest) no, so I was close with the other one," she says.
She says her mother quarrelled with her uncle.
"When he came to pick me up he said he was not happy with what was happening and that is why he decided to get me so it means he knew the story and that was the reason. Eventually my uncle, I think he, was on my side but when my mother came, he was upset on the first day but on the second day he handed me back to my mother saying these were my parents and I knew exactly what that meant," she says. "So I came back but my mother said you caused me so much problems so you have to go and stay with your father in Lusaka. So I knew what that meant. I was at Ndola main school; I failed my grade seven so I repeated, and I was on and off school. He was in Lusaka with the third wife. When I went to Lusaka, he didn't take me to stay with his wife, he had found me a flat in Kafue Estates. I found this flat furnished and I can even point it out today."
She says the flat belonged to INDECO Estates and was a newly-built one because Kafue was just getting developed.
"He said 'this is your house'. He said 'you see because you went to Mansa you have nowhere to go. Without me you are doomed, I am your father, you do what I tell you. No one has the right over you. Just do what I tell you.' What can I do? I was there, a sex slave locked up. He stayed with me the first two, three days, hell broke, it was just rubbish. Whatever! Two days he never went out, the house had everything, we were just there, having sex and he was like addicted, it was like some sort of craziness. I don't know if it was juju, I don't believe in these things because I have never experienced them and I have never seen them and all I believed was that these were my parents and they were doing these things to me and why with the support of my mother? I never understood and why my uncle brought me back, how can I ask that question? Nobody explained to me and I am one person who can express herself," she says.
"I couldn't face a person and talk about it; who was I going to share it with? Who is going to listen to me? You know how I felt when my uncle the policeman took me, I said 'now the law, things are going to change' even though my father didn't go to jail. At least I know that this man had the means of helping me being a policeman but he never did it because it was a family issue which would embarrass their family if it came out in the public. So there I stayed for close to a year, he used to come, I never went to school I think for a year.
He would lock me in the house and take the keys, food and everything was in the house. I never even used to open the curtains, he told me never to do that because it wasn't safe. I grew up being dictated what to do and because of the shame I had, I couldn't argue and I was young at the same time and this man was my father. Sometimes when going to Ndola to visit mum and the other wife, he would take me with him and would come back together. Meanwhile, the other wife didn't know that I lived in Kafue. So during this same period he made another woman pregnant and I don't know if they wanted to sue him so he moved me because I was always pestering him that I wanted to go back to school. He said, 'okay because you want to go to school now, you can go and stay with your stepmother. She was in Libala, she was working as a nurse so that you can go back to school.' Meanwhile, it was a lie, so I moved to Libala."
Priscilla says till this day she still looks at him as her father.
"I was scared of him, he used to beat me when I ran away, he would torture me when I run away. He would find me. He would first ask who I slept with, that was the first question. I would say, 'no one', then he would ask why I run away then he would beat me, brutally beating me. Then he would lock me in a room with no clothes, without food and he would leave a tin to use as a toilet there, so that I don't run away," she says. "It was rape most of the time, but as time went on it went further and involved foreplay. We kissed and he would bring erotic films. He was saying I should learn how to handle him properly in bed because I didn't have the experience and I would do likewise because if I don't do it he would beat me. So to make my life easy I would follow what he was saying and what he wanted."
Priscilla says from there, she went to live with her stepmother, the nurse who later found her a typing course at a college his friend was running.
"But I didn't like it. I wanted to go to school I didn't want this college thing. He said I could be his secretary, it didn't matter I could learn this and later go back to school. I was maybe 15, 16 years and he made me wear beads and he even taught me how to shave him and everything, a lot of torture, a number of things happened," she says.
She says she later met one family; the man was a minister and his sister was a teacher at Roma Girls School.
Priscilla says the woman offered to get her a place at Roma Girls which she did but she attended school only twice.
"The thing is when I moved to Libala, he (her father) had closed the business in Ndola and moved the darkroom to the house in Libala; he partitioned the house, these are two bedroom council houses. So he made a partition in the other bedroom and made a darkroom and said he was going to teach me pictures but it wasn't only the pictures. I learnt but it was an excuse to have sex with me," she says.
She says he would take her to school and always pick her up, unless he was out of town.
Priscilla says she later suspected that her stepmother was suspecting something but she never told her.
"I wanted to tell her but I didn't tell her… they told me not to betray. What is going to happen? Is he going to beat me? So one day I was menstruating, he used to do it whether I have a period or not. So he took me on their bed where he had sex with me and the bed was stained. He told me to wash it but it would be visible and my stepmother noticed something and asked me if my father had brought anyone while she was working and I told her I didn't see anyone because that was the truth," she says. "So something happened, a letter was found I can't remember whether it was me or my mother who wrote it. When the children or his wives wanted to talk about something serious, they had to put it in writing so I think she found a note confirming that he was sleeping with me and I was not allowed to go and visit my mother because she thought I would bring juju or something. So I was just staying there. She never approached me but I was chased from the house. I couldn't look her in the eye."
Priscilla says instead of taking her to her mother's house or Kafue, he booked a room at a hotel and said he would not let her go back to her mother because of what had happened with her uncle.
"I was 17 I think, I was under age… so he had made an arrangement because it was the same people who were cleaning and bringing food. He said he wanted to bring back my mother. People used to ask him why he was moving with me. It was torture. He talked to one of workers to keep my mother for some time. He had moved his darkroom from Libala to another place. The worker agreed as he couldn't find a house then, so mum moved to Matero and I went to stay with mum," she says. "By then I said this is my destiny and I accepted the whole thing. This employee had brothers and he thought maybe they were after me. He would come and pick me and say I was working with him and he would have sex with me at the office. He later found a house because my mother had other daughters, in Woodlands Extension and we moved there, it was a two bedroomed house so he closed his shop saying rentals were expensive and moved the darkroom in my room so that he can have sex with me."
Priscilla says he continued doing so.
"He would come in the night. He was a dictator in the house but very well respected outside. I later become pregnant and my father and mother said I should abort or sleep with someone else. I refused; I said, 'you told me this was a secret so why should I involve someone? You should have known this. I am not going to sleep with another person. I was becoming rude at that time. At the same time my mother was pregnant with my sister and a month later my mother gave birth and I gave birth as well in 1977," she says.
She describes her father as a psychopath.
"He would pamper me with gifts, blackmail me, he loved my son, I wouldn't cheat and my son had more favours than my sister, so there was a conflict between me and my mother and she started calling me names that walimpoka abalume, teti ufwaye abobe (you have stolen my man, why can't you find your own?). I got upset and said, 'you made me do this, you told me that this happens to children'. And I had friends who were coming and they would say the child looks like his grandfather. That was torture and I would be stubborn. When I got pregnant, everyone in the family knew but they didn't say anything," she says. "My grandmother used to say she didn't know what was going to happen to me when she dies. When I had my son, there was a big conflict with my mother, I called her mum and I called him dad but in the evening, he would sleep with me. His other wife had moved to Lusaka and he had divorced the other one and married a coloured in Emmasdale. He just had influence over women. I don't mind if he could do that to other women but not to his own children. So during all this time, when my son was young, I used to run away and stay at the station, and I would get the child and not anything because I never showed any love towards him (son) but I couldn't leave him there because I thought these people are evil. It's better if I die, I die with him because I knew no one was going to take care of him. I attempted to kill myself many times. I wanted to hang myself one time and my boy cried so much, he never used to call me mum, he used to call mum, mum and me by my name and his crying saved me."
Priscilla says she later learnt that she could be on the pills and she started taking them secretly.
"I also started making dresses. My dream was to become either an air hostess or fashion designer. I did a tailoring course. I later met a sister from Ireland and she said I was talented and she could look for school for me in Ireland. I told her to talk to my dad. He was very good at talking about my education. This sister found a place for me. Because of the problems I was having with mum, I asked my father to look for a house for me. He found a house for me in Kabwata. This was the mistake I made because he legally married me then. My mother refused to take care of my son so I asked my friend to take care of him and I left for Ireland. He used to call every day, asking me to be a good girl. I shouldn't mess around with guys. I stayed for two weeks," she says. "He later got jealous and one day out of the blues, he said the government had stopped self-sponsorship and I had to come back and that's how I never stepped in that college. I came back but there was no one to receive me at the airport apart from him, this was strange because when I was going, a lot of people saw me off. I didn't go home. He took me back to the hotel, I don't know how many times I stayed there. I stayed for a week there and after he was satisfied, he took me home and pretended I had just arrived."
Priscilla says because the Kabwata house was big, he brought her sisters, her brother and several half siblings from her step mother and his young brother to stay with her.
"He moved the dark room to Kabwata at my house, my son was getting to four and he was asking why I wasn't getting pregnant. He wanted me to be pregnant, he said he couldn't be alone. I think he suspected that I was taking something. He had moved his clothes to my bedroom and my sisters could see what he was doing. He was the man of the house. So one day he sent us somewhere, I think Munda Wanga, and he remained alone. He looked until he found the pills. When we came back I could tell that something was wrong. He called me to bedroom and asked me what the pills were for and then beat me like I was a criminal until my sisters came and banged in the door saying he would kill me. He opened the door and went out. After that I become pregnant and I had my daughter, she was born in 1992," she says.
She later had two more sons.
Priscilla says when she was pregnant with her daughter, her father called her uncle, her sisters and brothers and said he wanted to talk to them. She tearfully recalls the conversation.
"He told everybody to say as from today, you, pointing at his young brother (who was also staying with them), 'Priscilla is my wife' and my children, she is your step mother, she is my wife'. My sisters become my step children and my uncle become my brother in law and that finished me and we lived like that. And when my daughter was eight months old, one of my half brother abused her, he raped my daughter and thereafter I took her to the hospital and it was proved that she was raped and I told dad that I wanted to report it to the police but he refused that it would tarnish his image so it died like that. Then I got pregnant again. I didn't want these things to continue," she says.
She says after her last child, she vowed she was not going to have any more children so she had her tubes tied without him knowing even though he signed the papers.
Priscilla says her father said he wanted to teach the others the family business.
She his father later started sleeping with her half sister from his other wife and her immediate young sister which also resulted in children.
"I think they also convinced her to sleep with someone but that man refused. My cousin, the daughter to my uncle in Mansa came to stay with us and started an affair with her. He rented her a house in Mtendere and later had twins with him. She become his secretary and would tell her everything not knowing she would tell dad everything and when he wakes up he would pretend he had a dream telling him about what I had been planning. I used to call him shi Musonda because I couldn't call him dad," she says.
Priscilla says after sorting out a family problem in Ndola, she said she had had enough and vowed never to return to her home.
"When I get back, I went to stay on the streets but I never prostituted. My children remained with mum and my father. They were searching for me. My life become difficult on the street. He had blackmailed me being a photographer; he had taken photos of us having sex and he would threaten that he would take them to the newspaper if I go to the police. That is what kept me all those years. When I ran away, he would show me the pictures," she says. "I stayed on the streets for a year but it was hard. I eventually decided to go to Central police. I stood there for hours at the boma watching people come and go until I don't know how I entered, I was dirty and hungry and then the police officers shouted, nichani iwe (you what is it?) I said I have four children with my father. They laughed and said chofunta (mad person) but I said 'no I am not mad'. When they were laughing and trying to chew what I said, I saw them salute and there was a superintendent that was coming in. He asked what is wrong with the girl and one answered in Tonga that she says she has four children with her father. He said 'send her to my office' and I said 'this is my guardian angel'. He gave me some food and I hadn't eaten in days and I was so dirty.
I was even scared of sitting on the sofa but he told me to sit. I later explained my situation and my father was arrested in 1991 and charged with incest. He didn't refuse, he said 'yes she is my wife and my daughter and I see nothing wrong with that and I have four children with her.' They locked him up and the case went to court. When my mother was called to testify, they asked her 'your husband is charged with incest, it is a serious offence so can you tell us if he is the biological father and my mother said 'no, only that we never told her and the charges were dropped and he was a free man and I went back to the streets and it hurt me so much," she says.
She says she never asked her mother anything after that.
"I was hurt, she didn't even look at me. I didn't have energy, I didn't know what to say. I said, 'where is this father of mine?' I was so frustrated. I said is this why he did this to me because he was not my father?" she says.
Priscilla has lost two of her children and the youngest one remarks: "It affects me since I knew the truth. I took to drinking. Somehow it hurts in my heart. How do you do something like that to your own daughter? For me personally I knew that he was my father, but he was a grandfather and she (mother) happens to be my sister, how would you feel? Then I just came to know when I was 26 recently that's when she opened up she had to take me for counselling for me to accept. I never knew but I know it's okay, I understand."
The older one says, "It's not an easy thing, it's a complicated story. There was a time she (Priscilla) had some problems so that's when I found out.
There were comments here and there and it wasn't making sense to me and I thought such things can never happen until she opened up. We don't know how people, society is going to take this, whether it will work to our advantage or not. But it's the family that we have and we have to accept it, I know my wife will be affected, I have four children. It has been a very difficult situation where you find that you have no relatives anymore. You wonder why there are people but they can visit you and you never understood. It has just created a boundary.'
Priscilla says after the charges were dropped, her father went into a depression, which she suspects killed him.
She says he wanted to kill her because he never wanted any other man to ever be with her.
She says her father even brought in some witchdoctors to hunt her down but they failed.
Priscilla says she also had a boyfriend who used to beat her after he discovered her story. He called her names and out of jealousy made her stop work.
She says one day he beat her and damaged her eye. He would say 'what kind of person sleeps with the father."
Priscilla is now married to Reto Schaufelberger and lives in Switzerland.
"I married him because he didn't want to know my past because it was the worst but now he knows," she says.
In 2006 she founded the Priscilla Schaufelberger Home of Abused Foundation and she is president of Home of Abused Foundation Zambia (HAFZ).
She keeps abused children but the house where they stay has been sold so the children have nowhere to go. She is appealing for help from anyone.
There is more in her book which will hit the book stores later this month.
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