Last updated on Jun 11th, 2021 at 11:20 am

It took Sasha-Lee Olivier 18 years to talk about her abuse – and this is now a top priority for her during her reign as Miss SA 2019

Living as a survivor of sexual abuse can be emotionally confusing and painful…

… something that Miss South Africa 2019, Sasha-Lee Olivier, knows all too well.

It took her 18 years to talk about her abuse – and this is now a top priority for her during her reign as Miss SA.

“Taking over the Miss South Africa title means that I am able to continue working to help women who, like me, have been sexually abused. It will be a top priority for me during my time as Miss South Africa”, she recently shared with Martin Bester on his Jacaranda FM show, Breakfast with Martin Bester.

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Sasha-Lee’s #itsnotyourfault campaign is aimed at making sure that women who, like her, have endured sexual assault know that they are not to blame for their abuse.

Off the back of her radio interview, we asked her to share a few, key things that survivors of sexual abuse should understand. Here are three of them:

1. It’s okay to not be okay

“As a sexual abuse survivor, you are confronted with two stigmas; the first directly associated with the assault and the second, pertaining to the subsequent mental health challenges you may face,” explains Sasha-Lee.

It’s okay to not be okay. After all, abuse in any form, can shake the very core of your existence.

But, having said that, “it’s important to get the necessary counselling as early as possible following the incident,” she adds.

2. #itsnotyourfault

“In a system that is perpetrator-centric, you would likely need to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the abuse took place – a process that can be riddled with secondary trauma,” she points out.

With this in mind, Sasha encourages survivors to “stick with your story, maintain patience and hope, and remember that it’s not your fault!”

3. Speak up

Sexual abuse is something that takes place in ‘secret’, but it shouldn’t be something that you carry alone.

“Speaking up is an integral part of healing and moving forward. Support groups are underrated and provide survivors with a sense of belonging,” she concludes.

To listen to Sasha-Lee’s full Jacaranda FM interview, click here.