Sandra Zaca’s story of hope: I’ve survived sexual, emotional & physical abuse

Sandra Zaca

Sandra Zaca is living proof that we don’t wear our emotional scars but them not being visible doesn’t mean that they don’t run deep. It takes a healing process for one to share about their emotional scars, thereby giving hope to those that are still coming to terms with the brutality of what caused the scars.

A top 100 Mrs South Africa 2021 semi-finalist, Sandra overcame childhood trauma that came from sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

Fleeing the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1995, she and her family of seven arrived in South Africa as refugees, at the dawn of democracy. This was after a long journey, mostly on foot, through Southern Africa, even nearly two years in a Malawian refugee camp.

As a refugee, Sandra has slept on the street, gone many a night and day without food, even attending school without meals, endured xenophobic discrimination and suffered much bullying throughout her high-school years. Having arrived in South Africa without knowing any of the official languages, she successfully taught herself English and managed to earn a matric pass, four years later.

Sandra Zaca is a survivor of sexual, emotional and physical abuse

Married with three kids, Sandra entered Mrs South Africa to demonstrate to her daughter, her sons and other women that despite whatever “bad” start one has in life, that achieving one’s dreams is possible. She is an example of tenacity, of hard work and of dreaming big. Her story is filled with suffering and trauma, but also with hope, fortitude, forgiveness and compassion.

SA Positive News caught up with Sandra to share some words of encouragement that would help set one on a path to their place of healing.

How were you able to heal from your childhood traumas?

I went to therapy, invested a lot of time reading material that helped me my journey of healing. More importantly my faith in God and support from close friends helped me tremendously.  Healing is progressive, and when I feel that there is an area I need to address, then I go back to therapy. 

How can women and girls who are abused seek help?

My first recommendation would be to first speak to someone that they can trust and will not break confidence- the journey to healing cannot be done alone. They will need a community that loves them and that is committed to standing by them and being a source of strength. Secondly, it’s critical that they seek the help of a trained and qualified counsellor or psychologist.

What is your message for Africans as far as unity is concerned?

Most immigrants are here out of necessity and not out of choice. It is not easy to leave behind everything and everyone you know in order to find a “better life” for you and your children. The parent immigrant wants the same things any parent wants for their children – food and education to give them a chance at a better life. We are all humans with deep feelings and there is no need to dehumanise one another as Africans. We are not the problem, but I also understand that when there is a deep frustration amongst the people, a scapegoat is always needed. I can today say that I am proudly Congolese and also proudly South African.

Find Sandra on YouTube: