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Learning to survive

Sexually and physically abused as a child, singer Jennifer Jones learned how to overcome her trauma and survive. Now an ambassador and volunteer at Lifeline, Jennifer is helping other survivors to find peace and move on with their lives.

“I was orphaned at two and adopted five times, during which time I was abused, raped and even burnt. I decided that I had to change my own circumstances.

In silence I would cry and the hate would grow so strongly that I couldn’t love. I started hating very hard and left to live on the streets in a park in Cape Town. I was still attending school but at school they didn’t know this, and homeless people cared for me. I would put on a mask to hide my hurt. All I knew was learning to survive.

After many years, circumstances forced me to get out of school and I worked at a factory, just to eat as I did not have an education. I knew there was something better waiting for my life, there was always something driving me forward. I knew my late mother wanted more for me. While I was working I became a designer by asking them to take a chance on me. I believe a higher person was taking care of me.

I left South Africa by becoming a singer and I am still a singer. I earned a lot of money while I was still below the age of 21 – despite all the pain and hate inside me. You can imagine what a young girl would do with so much money. I made many mistakes and I built a wall between myself and others. Finally, I had a boyfriend who courted me for nine months. The first time I saw a penis and realised that I had blocked what had happened to me when I was a child. All the years came back and I understood what had happened. I went crazy in a way. I lost someone who loved me because I didn’t understand.

I could smell and see the faces of the people who hurt me and where they did it. It was time for a journey of self-healing, to apologise and love myself and heal. All I wanted was for them to admit and say sorry. They did not. I forgave them anyway and set myself free and could move on with my life.

“Now I am working with Lifeline to help people who are broken and I am working for the change that is about to come.”

Call Lifeline’s 24-hour helpline on 0861 322 322 or visit