Tue | Sep 25, 2018

A teen's pain...Youth suffers based on the acts of other family members

Published:Saturday | January 9, 2016 | 12:00 AM

Oftentimes, we fail to realise that our actions hurt us the least and that those around us tend to bear the consequences. Tiffany* is only 19 years old and has suffered hurt beyond measure caused by her family members.

"The reputation of my family was tarnished. Many people disliked us. Sometimes, being a part of this family makes me feel sad. When I look back on how all of us were brought up in church and how the family is now, it's sad," she said.

Tiffany was referring to an earlier incident which saw a family member being accused of murdering his girlfriend in the community in which they live.

"He was very humble and cool, but then something tragic happened with him and his girlfriend. That was followed by sleepless nights for my family and a very bad image. We started to get threats from the girl's family, and the residents of the community looked down on us," she revealed, adding that she lost friends because of what had happened.

Tiffany told Family and Religion that she and her relatives had to be careful of where they went and who they spoke to, also adding that the incident interrupted her participation in school activities that included evening sessions and even affected her academically.

According to her: "The issue didn't break up the family, though. Instead, it brought us together.

Everyone came around to try and comfort each other. Most of the members that we hadn't seen or heard from in a while resurfaced and shared in our moments of tears and vulnerability."

And as if that issue wasn't enough, Tiffany's brother was later sentenced to prison after being held with a home made gun.

"Before the sentence, he had regular court dates and had to report to the police almost every day.

difficult for my mother

"That was difficult for my mother, but she still tried to put her best forward. Then the sentence came and that was too much for her. The depression came down on her.

"She cried uncontrollably for hours and began reminiscing on the days she usually warned him to be careful of things like this and to behave himself. I will never forget the look on her face as she watched her son walk to the police van. She couldn't stand the sight, so the tears kept flowing," Tiffany said.

With an imprisoned uncle and brother, and a depressed mother, the teenager knew she had to be the strength of the family.

"I try my best to ensure that I don't do anything to make her (mother) feel more depressed. I always encourage her and tell her that he's (brother) not dead, so, at least, she can visit him.

"Most times, she will cry when she remembers how he used to sing and play drums at church," she said, revealing that her mother often questions herself on where she went wrong.

Tiffany said whenever she is away from her mother, she calls her regularly to ensure her that she is ok.

"My friends, teachers, and other family members helped me to hold the faith. God was at the centre of my strengthening though. I prayed a lot and attended fasting services.

I also bury myself in social media. It helps to keep me happy," she said as she disclosed her therapeutic remedies.

Tiffany says that the family has since been doing OK, but is keeping their guards up as they dread a reprisal attack from the family of the slain young woman.

* Name changed