Sunday Times Books LIVE Community Sign up

Login to Sunday Times Books LIVE

Forgotten password?

Forgotten your password?

Enter your username or email address and we'll send you reset instructions

Sunday Times Books LIVE

Anne Townsend

@ Sunday Times Books LIVE

Incest~Footprint# (2018-10-18)


Photo Credit AnneTownsend } Incest~Footprint#

No Title Today 2018-10-18


Photo Credit AnneTownsend } Incest~Footprint#

The ‘Anonymous’ Victim of Magnus Malan

I long for the day a family member has this to say:

I am truly horrified by these revelations. I’m in denial, in trauma, in therapy!! Once I’ve absorbed the horror of what my father/uncle/grandfather/former colleague did, I’d like to reach out to the True Victims. The Lost Boys of Bird Island. Not only the boy who was stitched up by the surgeon, the boy with a ‘physical’ wound, but to ALL the victims!!

On the cover of today’s Burger is a grainy, full-body shot of another victim, who has decided he cannot live with himself for one more day if he keeps quiet. He was kidnapped, bundled into a vehicle, and treated as Magnus’ ”wife”, for an entire night, in his words. At age 44, he has never told a soul. Not his parents, not his wife, nor his children. I hope this ‘anonymous’ man will allow himself to be photographed for a future cover page, without his face being ‘grained out’ by the editor. He is not a criminal. He has a name, a face and a story to tell. His life is only just beginning. As he tells his story, it will loosen its grip on his being. It will get worse, and then it will get much, much better. He has gagged himself. That is the worst type of gagging. (((Throat#)))

barsX-Ray Vision (2)bars


Creating space in your new home

IMG_0127Are you a newcomer in a small town? Are you settling into life as a rural resident, having fled the ‘city’? Look no further than these tried-and-tested tips from a Barrydaler.

You will be regarded as fresh meat for your first few months. Don’t let it go to your head. It has nothing to do with charm, looks, wealth or intelligence. It means that you’re fresh, easy pickings, and¬†people will try and recruit you into their camp. Keep a low profile. Take sides, never. Stick to yourself, keep your own counsel, and give it 12 – 18 months before you take sides. Sides will be taken. Ruthlessly. If you’re hoping to sit on the fence, go back to the ‘city.’ Small town life requires invigorating taking of sides. It comes naturally, but only after at least a year. Then, take sides, and budge, never, from your position.

You will be accused of having City Manners. Again. Don’t let this go to your head. It simply means you are energetic, punctual, successful, a go-getter, and almost definitely from Cape Town or Johannesburg. It will be used against you. Let this accidental compliment land where it belongs: on your methodical, organized ears. Try and hang on to your City Manners for as long as ‘rural’ life allows. Don’t slide into rural apathy or languid late-coming. We need City Manners. They are our link to civilization.

You will be invited to barbeques (commonly known as ‘braais’), to dinner parties, and, even though you’re only 45, you will be invited to play bowls at The Recreation Club. Try to decline as politely as possible. Once you’ve made too many new friends, too soon, getting rid of them can prove impossible, or at least, challenging. Decline invitations, (it gets easier wth practice), and once you’ve sussed out who’s who (give it 12 – 18 months), either accept an invitation or two (if they’re still coming your way) or take the plunge and have a Belated Home-Warming. Invitation Only. Small towners have a habit of arriving unannounced, uninvited, and taking over your dinner bash.

Security is considerably more relaxed than in the big cities. Sadly, crime can seem to intensify in a small town. You actually know the person who gets robbed, beaten up, slandered or bullied. It’s not just a name. It’s a familiar face, it may even be an out-of-towner who spent several months up the road, and you feel their pain. Empathy increases in direct proportion to intimacy. Small towns foster intimacy. Be prepared to ‘feel’ more.

You will be regarded as a representative of your former home. You will be lumped together with Capetonians, or Joh’burgers, or the British. As with all stereotyping, wait it out. Your true self will make an appearance, in due course, and you will be seen as an actual real, live person, with your own ways, your own views, and your own manners.

Seventeen months now I have resided in Barrydale. Much of my time is spent, alone, in nature, or alone, at home. On the rare occasion that I encounter neighbours, residents, and the many visitors to my new home, I have learnt to appear inscrutable, neutral, friendly, and invisible. It’s an art that takes a while to master. You can do this, too.


Photo Credit: Anne Townsend





No Title: 2018-07-30


Photo Credit: Anne Townsend, Barrydale

Breaking the Silence (Breakers)

1) Butt out!! This has nothing to do with you!!

2) You’re a newcomer. You don’t know enough.

3) You’ll be fired/sued/abandoned/shamed/threatened/harrassed.

4) She/He will not be abusive for much longer. Huddle down until it passes.

5) There’ll be C-O-N-S-E-Q-U-E-N-C-E-S.

6) We’ll meet with you, on your terms. Until then, shut up. XXX

7) We’ll meet with you, on our terms. Until then, shut up. XXX

8) It’s so unimportant, this … ”issue.” A meeting is … unthinkable.

9) Blaming?¬† Shaming? Covert abuse? Psychobabble. You’re making a big deal out of nothing.

10) It never happened. Erased. Disappeared. Vanished without trace.

barsNo Title (2)bars

The fear on your face#

I now expect this. The aftermath of speaking out. The darting eyes, the long faces, the previously open, forthcoming confidences are no longer offered. I go from a warm benign presence to The Whistleblower. It has happened in my own tribe. It has happened in my new home. It will not deter me from my job.

Abuse. It surrounds us like mist. We get used to it. It’s a fine spray of water and we get so wet we no longer notice anything. We keep away. We remain locked in silence. We deter ourselves from taking a stand.

Dirty Laundry. I detest you. You get swept into the closet. You reek. You no longer come outside. You live behind metal gates and burglar bars.

Whistle Blowers. Silence Breakers. Throat. Voice. Spine. Spinelessness. Xxx

X-Ray Vision (2)barsX-Ray Vision (2)


The Dirty Secret of Going Public

Sidney Frankel. Billionaire. Private plane. Rolls Royce. Philanthropist. Married. (Deceased). Denies all charges. And now, joined forever in our minds, with eight adult men and women:

Nicole Levenstein and her brother Paul Diamond, George Rosenberg and his sister Katherine Rosenberg, Daniela McNally, Lisa Wegner, Shane Rothequel and Marinda Smith.

This is The Downside. The dirty secret of Going Public. You are no longer Nicole, or Paul, or George, or Katherine, or Daniela, or Lisa or Shane or Marinda.

You are the child who was (allegedly) molested by Sidney Frankel. You are the seven year old girl who was assaulted by your famous movie director father. You are the teen who was raped by Bob Hewitt, the tennis coach. I’d be lying if I was evasive about this aspect of breaking silence. Marriage? Till death do us part?

If you go public, you give up the right to conceal your secrets from reporters, cops, lawyers and the prying eyes of the reader. You are hitched, till death do us part, to a criminal. Child sexual abuse is a no-win. So is going public. So is keeping quiet. It’s the No-Win of All No-Wins. There is no silver lining. ~..~


Photo Credit: AnneTownsend



Breaking open centuries of complicity

It’s never too late. Dylan Farrow proved that, when in 2014, and then again, in 2017, she illustrated that, even after decades of avoidance, and putting children’s lives in danger by not speaking out, and mistakenly seeing silence as the path of sanity, you can swirl around a stalemate. Her two rather beautifully written essays have changed the minds, and lives, of many.

In this country, we are also ‘in motion.’ Until recently, any sexual assault claims (except for rape) expired after twenty years. Thereafter, an alleged perpetrator could no longer be charged. But, on 14 June this year, this changed. Eight applicants, known as the Frankel-eight, managed to overturn this law as unconstitutional. And of course, the Bob Hewitt trial changed our lives too.

Bob Hewitt’s victims lost, in some cases, relationships with their own children, they had to move house or change jobs. For all three women who went public (and there is a fourth, who chose not to go to court), their lives were made hell by their choice to ”taint” Bob Hewitt’s name. Yeah. That’s why at least one of those women got death threats. She was ”tainting” Bobby’s name,

But not only is Bobby in jail. That’s a minor achievement. What has happened is that those of us who followed the trial, who watched Delaille enabling her spouse in court, have forever changed our neural pathways. We saw an arrogant, blundering rapist led off to prison, and we read about the sheer endurance trial of those who dared to speak out.

To the three of you who endured hell, including years of further contact with the predator, you changed the course of history. You broke open decades and centuries of complicity. You rock. XXX XXX

Sealed Lips)IMG_0048[1]Sealed Lips)

Photo Credit: AnneTownsend

No Title: 2018~06~16

tractor (2)

Photo Credit: AnneTownsend, Barrydale