Stigma

I don’t know how other girls like me react to stigma and injustices we suffer because of our statuses. I usually beat myself up. Sometimes, depending on the source of the stigma, I’d loathe myself.

But a recent incident opened my eyes to a whole new dimension of reaction. If I am responsible and suffer the consequences of my own actions, why then don’t I let other people do the same? The stigma might be directed to me, buts it’s not about me. It’s about the other person’s ignorance and misinformation, so then why must I punish myself because they are ignorant? It does not make sense at all.

Recently, a person I considered a friend assumed that I’d have casual sex with him because he believed that because I have HIV then I’m loose and cheap. Of course as usual, I pulled out the whip so I can punish myself,  and all the insecurities I thought I had dealt with resurfaced. I cried for days on end…until something inside of me snapped…and I had the following conversation with myself.

Inner me: “DK, are you loose or cheap?”

Me: "No…"

Inner me:  "So why are you punishing yourself for someone else’s misconceptions of you?"

Me:  "I don’t know."

Inner me: "If someone committed a crime, would you go to jail for them?"

Me: "No…"

It was at this point that I stopped feeling like dirt simply because someone else thinks I am. I know my worth and that’s enough.

Dikeledi

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itchynotscratchy's picture

Great post - really shows the inner turmoil caused by other people's perceptions of people living with HIV. It's important to get the message out there and beat the stigma surrounding HIV.

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tatty2gud's picture

true indeed. Stigma is like a disease on its own and a kind of disease that need vigorous approach. No one would look down on us if we had cancer or diabetes, but because they associate HIV with immorality, they treat us like adulterers were treated in the olden days... The church here has a huge role to play. its also sad that some of the stigmatization occurs in our places of prayer. my question is : if all we need is love, then where is the love?

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jae001's picture

Great post, I have similar conversations with myself.

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