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Candice Rijavec

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Candice Rijavec

Candice Rijavec


Since the early years of my life, I had been repeatedly abused… in every way… in numerous ways… and in ways unimaginable. I had a brother who was about a year younger than me. We were inseparable… we were the best of friends. My brother, like me, had endured abuse as well. In my young age, I tried continuously to protect him through every abuse scenario that I could. I was his big sister… I was his protector. But I was too young… too small… I was not strong enough. I could not protect him as much as I wanted to… as much as I tried to. But I still always put my life in the line of fire to protect him. I would have rather endured his abuse, so that he could be left alone… but I did not succeed in every attempt. We had a deeper bond because not only were we brother and sister, and not only were we the best of friends… but we were also bound by a common shared trauma. We were bound by abuse.

When I was around 4 years old, my brother became horrifically sick. My mother was constantly at the doctors and repeatedly giving my brother medication, but he just got worse and worse. He was unbelievably sick. As much of a protector as I had been for my brother, through all the abuse in his young life, this was one thing that I could not save him from. I did not know what to do. This was an invisible enemy. All I could do was hold him… to try and comfort him. As his big sister… his protector… I made him a promise, “I will never, ever, ever let anybody hurt you ever again. I will I protect you for the rest of your life. You’ll always be safe.” Little did I know, was that only a few days later, I was going to lose him forever. The day that my baby brother had died, was the day that molded the very foundation of who I was. I had broken a promise that I had made… a promise to protect. Even though I could not have saved my baby brother from dying, this broken promise became a lingering… haunting… life-long ambition… to protect everyone and everything I loved and cared for, despite what it would cost me. To not be able to protect, is a reminder of this lingering pain that is very deep within my heart.

After my brother’s death, my sister and two younger brothers were born. I became their protectors as well… I endured their abuse, so they would remain unharmed. Rather me, than them. This same protective instinct is carried with me for everyone that I love and care for. I will protect, despite the cost. The pain of losing someone I love is far worse than the cost of anything else… even if it costs me my own life.

I love, care, and protect with my life… because I also needed that in my life. I know what it is like to not have it. Since early childhood, it was embedded in me to love unconditionally… care without expecting in return… and to protect, no matter what. I needed that as a child, so I became what I needed. This embedded mindset is the basis of who I am. It has never changed.

Everyone is a mirror image of yourself – your own thinking coming back to you.
~ Byron Katie

I have never been out to lie and deceive people, so I never expect it in return. I would never betray someone’s trust, so I never expect that in return. Except, not everyone is like me… my mirror has often fooled me when it came to numerous people… and in the case with Cecilia, with her claiming that she had endlessly and horrifically been abused all her life, it was a trigger for me. We shared a common trauma… I needed to protect my friend.


When I had first met Cecilia, she was already married with two children. The first onset thought was that Cecilia was heterosexual (aka. straight). As the months progressed throughout our friendship, I had watched Cecilia repeated flirting with other men, even while her husband was present. Cecilia and I had numerous arguments about the fact that she was cheating on her husband, but this did not matter to her. She wanted men’s attention and wherever she could get it from. Despite this argument, this further solidified the notion that Cecilia was straight. There had been no signs, whatsoever, to indicate Cecilia was gay or even bisexual for that matter.

However, as the months in our friendship continued, numerous confusing scenarios started presenting themselves. Cecilia started telling me that other people thought that she and I were in a gay relationship. I was shocked. Horrified… and very, very confused. When I had asked her why, her only explanation was to say that it was because we were very close, and that when we said goodbye to each other, we hugged each other. This still confused me because Cecilia hugged everyone, whenever she said goodbye to them, so why had I become an isolated topic for others. I asked Cecilia who was saying this about us, but her only response was to merely laugh it off by saying, “You know that people like to think what they want to think. Just ignore it.” At that point, I thought this would be a once off scenario, so I laughed it off as well. However, it continued… and so much so, that it made me paranoid. Cecilia repeatedly kept telling me more and more that people were talking about us being in a gay relationship and that people were convinced of it too. I did not want people to think that I was in a gay relationship with Cecilia because we were not; we were strictly just friends. I was becoming worried. Paranoid. I wanted to do something so that people would stop assuming we were in a gay relationship, but there was nothing I could do because there was absolutely nothing going on between us that would or could give any tiny indication that we were in a gay relationship. I eventually even avoided hugging Cecilia whenever we said goodbye because even that made me paranoid. However, this still did not stop people from talking.

As the months progressed, this gay relationship topic still carried on. I would hear about it at least once a week from Cecilia… and sometimes, even twice a week. Eventually, the statements changed from other people talking about it, to Cecilia talking about gay topics or making gay statements in general. Each time Cecilia would be laughing, as she would make a statement. Cecilia always joked about a lot of things, so when she would make very direct gay statements, I assumed she was joking about it because she was always mocking others in these specific statements… so I laughed it off as well. But at the same time, I was becoming even more wary about it. At that point, I was still completely unaware that Cecilia swung in both directions.

Not long after, Cecilia started posing scenarios where she would outwardly flirt with me. My instant response to Cecilia was always a complete blank, horrified stare, to where she would then laugh it off, as if she had just been joking around with me. But these scenarios kept repeating, and each time, I would quickly move further away from Cecilia, and I would no longer laugh off the scenario because it was starting to scare me.

Eventually a twisted scenario posed itself, after Cecilia had started baptizing and marrying couples. Cecilia tried to convince me that because of her god-given status, and added other further nonsense explanations, the only way to save my soul would be for us to get married and to then have sex.[1] I was dumbstruck. Speechless. This explanation made no sense to me whatsoever. I think the look on my face, in that moment, said it all to Cecilia – it was NOT going to happen. We would never get married and we would most definitely never have sex. Cecilia was highly unimpressed by my response. Furious. She tried to persuade me further. I would not budge. It was not going to happen. This was the last time the gay issue presented itself during our friendship, and it was one of the main causes for the rift in our friendship for it to start separating. Cecilia was not getting what she wanted. She was angry. Since she could see that I could not be persuaded on this topic, she started to even see me lesser during the course of each week as well. Sometimes, she would even tell me not to visit at all.

The idea of being in a relationship that was more than a friendship, with Cecilia, made my stomach turn. To say that chills ran down my spine, would be an understatement. Cecilia was just my friend; that was it. To be more than friends with her was something that my mind could never and would never comprehend. It was not even an issue of being gay. It was the simple pure fact that I only saw her as a friend. There was not even an inkling of anything extra that could lead to something more than a friendship.


[1] Johannesburg High Court Transcript. SS010-2017 REC (2018-11-12) VOL 19