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Blog Survivors Corner

“Why Now?” Answering the Question of Why Sexual Violence Survivors ‘Stay Silent’

As I resume writing again on loudislences.org, I was thinking about what people might feel about my ‘silence’ for the last couple months on this platform. While this was due to some life-evalution I was undertaking, I could not help but feel like I owed my readers an explanation. 

But it was not the first time I have felt that way. And that is a feeling anyone who has dared to break the code of silence on their experience with sexual violence knows all too well- the feeling of you have to explain your silence ‘all these years’. Haven’t we heard it over and over? Busola Dakolo, Reneau Giwa-Amu (RIP), the many women who came forward in the #metoo movement, and no doubt my humble self. When people hear how long ago your experience was, even when they don’t ask, you can tell they are wondering. 

I still remember the first time I came out to my family about my experiences with sexual abuse, especially from fanily- I can still hear the question- “why now”? “Why didn’t you say something all these years”? And it is a question we continue to hear as survivors. Well, if you are like me and most survivors, you may feel compelled to provide an answer to that question and perhaps, like most survivors- you open your mouth to respond and alas- nothing comes out. Why? Because you never really knew. The simple answer is- you are not ready until whatever point you choose to break your silence. But there is more, and for me, it took me a while to go through the layers of my ‘why now’.

Before I state what I found, let me identify the reasons people ask those questions. It generally would fall under these three categories:

  1. They truly want to know: Some people have this notion that if there was an unpleasant event going on, our natural instinct is to ‘scream for help’. And what can be more unpleasant than any form of sexual violence? As such, they cannot make the connection between your unpleasant experience and silence. A part of them feel for you enough to want to understand. Plus, the they can know enough to help someone in the future. 
  2. Trying to get the truth: there are those who just don’t understand why survivors stay silent for so long, but here are others who just want to get to the truth to make informed decisions. And especially in  a case where they have to take actions (e.g. lawsuits) against perpetrators, it is only fair that they ask the question- why now. It is not usually for a lack of belief, but for taking actions informed by truth and fact. 
  3. It is a rape-apology tactics: There are rape apologists, full stop! And they would stop at nothing to continue to put down victims of sexual violence. And so when they ask the question of ‘why now’ it is not for lack of evidence, or not knowing the truth, but tactics of intimidation to shame, guilt and put-down survivors often with the intent of silencing them. More often, they know and have some affinity towards perpetrators and would rather protect said perpetrators than their victims. This continues to be the case with perpetrators who are authority figures.

For the benefit of folks in the first two categories I will provide answers to the question at hand. Because what they need is education and increased awareness. After which, they can make a conscious effort to become allies- because now they know. Or, join the third category of people because they choose to ignore the rationale behind prolonged silence by survivors.

Now that we have that out of the way, here are five reasons why survivors stay silent for however long:
  1. They were not ready: this is as simple as it sounds. Everyone feels ready to share at their own time. Too soon before then (especially without support), and it can cause more psychological harm than good. Let them be ready.
  2. They are scared: this can be for a number of reasons ranging from- if the perpetrator is a person of authority or in a position of power, there may have been threats. Especially for children this happens a lot where if they have been threatened, they lack the thinking capacity to realize it was a lie. In my case, as a child, imagine being told you would die if you spoke up. Or that you and anyone you tell will be killed. Sadly, we carry this lie to our old age until one day the scales off.
  3. Not being believed: this is a pathetic cycle in that when someone does come out to break the silence and another survivor watches them get shredded to pieces, of course the next person would want to keep silent until they think they are able to deal with the consequences of breaking their own silence. So you see how as society we fuel the silence?
  4. They are unable to remember details: some people’s way of coping with the trauma is to forget. Others forget because they were really young when it happened, and they are unsure of what they thought happened. When people are unsure of what they thought they experienced, they are likely to take their time on breaking silence.
  5. They are ashamed and embarrassed: This happen a lot with survivors who were much older when their abuse happened. Feelings like ‘I was so stupid’ and ‘how did I not see this coming’ are common. So excuse them if talking about it is the last thing on their minds.
  6. They didn’t think they could trust anyone: based on statistics, 79% of perpetrators are known to their abusers. In my instance, I knew all of my perpetrators- two of whom are family members. Why then would I trust another human being with that experience? Trust issue is already in the mix and your solution to my broken trust is to trust again? I am sorry, but that might take a while. This is why survivors need to know without a shadow of doubt who their allies are. And you don’t be an ally to a cause like ours and stay silent.
  7. They are emotionally and mentally spent: any form of sexual violence takes a lot of emotional and mental energy. Asking someone to be quick to recount the experience for whatever reason only takes more energy from them, not to mention relieving the trauma. This brings us back to the first point and why they may not be ready. When I was writing my book (sit tight for the launch date), I chose the middle of night to ‘grieve’ my experiences. So if needed, I could cry and reflect, because I had to relive the experiences in my writing. I have had years to deal with it, imagine someone fresh from the experience?

This is not an exhaustive list as there can be more depending on individual experiences. 

For those truly seeking to know, I hope this helps you understand better why survivors tend to stay silent. As for rape apologists, I hope these reasons change your perspective, considering the layers of issues survivors have to deal with. 

As for why there had been nothing on loudsilences for a while, I have returned to working from the office. Hence, it was mentally-wise to reevaluate the different things I do and resume them slowly. You, my amazing readers, deserve to know why, and you can learn about it here.

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Blog CSA

Silence is Consent! Do you Consent?

“Silence is consent! Why didn’t you say anything? You wanted it, just admit it”. Those were the words that kept swirling around in Made’s head as she clutched her purse and her shoes in one hand, while squeezing together parts of her clothes as if they would cover the imaginary nakedness she felt.

Although most people barely noticed her, she felt like all eyes were watching her with judgement. She felt shame, guilt, condemned and an overwhelming sense of aloneness. A trip to her friend’s house had ended up as one of the worst days of her life.

“Why didn’t I say anything truly?” She wondered. Her friend Jamie had said he needed help with the new assignment just delivered to them at school. Made was in his neighbourhood and figured she may as well stop by his place to get that out of the way. It won’t be the first time she would go to Jamie’s house, or be alone with him in the house. They have been friends since high school and now in the same university. She trusted him (or so she thought).

Once the assignment was done, Jamie had offered her food, she ate and slept off on the couch. Not the first time she would collapse in sleep over there. But this time, she awoke to the feel of the hands on her thighs. Her eyes flew open when she realized what the hand was trying to do, as she opened her eyes, she was shocked to see realize this was a case of rape and not a question of if she was interested.

Before she had a chance to scream, he covered her mouth with his hands. With his other hands, he signaled for her to hush, before showing her the knife he had placed on the table.

Could she ever forgive Jamie for asking her “why didn’t you scream, if you did not want it. Haven’t you heard silence is consent”? That was a question she was not ready to answer yet. The bigger question was why was he more disappointed at her who was the victim than he was at his own father who raped he under their roof?

Were you also thinking, well, if it was Jamie’s father, why didn’t she scream for help? Do you also agree silence is consent? By your logic, if silence is consent, why then do you remain silent on the topic of ending sexual violence in our society. Is your silence meaning you want this menace to continue? If no, then here is how you can help. If yes, then keep keeping mute. For God’s sake, it better be the former!

PS: At the point of doing this write-up there was yet another story of a child who was being sexually abused for the last seven years of her life by a popular member of society. We cannot afford to stay silent any longer.

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Blog Survivors Corner

Excuse Me, What is your Excuse?

“Bimpe, Bimpe, Bimpe! How many times did I call you? This life you want to live will not benefit you one bit. Change!”. Mrs. Daniels was trying to advice Bimpe about not ‘selling herself cheaply to me’. “Excuse Me, what is your excuse this time?” Bimpe fired back. “What did you say?” Mrs. Daniels asked. “You heard me, what is your excuse this time, Ma?” Look me in the eyes and tell me this is the first time you are hearing of this kind of act from one of these so-called Elders and Pastors.

Mrs. Daniels is the Pastor’s wife. She had called a meeting with Bimpe, Mr. Oye (one of the elders within the church), and some of the Associate Pastors. They were here to discuss Bimpe’s supposed ‘unbecoming’ relationship with Mr. Oye. It started about three months back when Mr. Oye offered her a ride home after church service. Naturally, they chatted on the ride to Bimpe’s home. He asked about her family, her plans for what she wanted to study in the university, normal small talk. The conversation with Mr. Oye made her feel like the leaders of the church were not as detached as she often felt.

So of course, next time Mr. Oye offered her a ride, she suspected nothing. Turned out her house is routed somewhere between the church and Mr. Oye’s house. As such, she was glad to give him her number when he offered to pick her up on his way to church every Sunday. Mrs. Oye also seemed like a nice person as they rode to and from church with her each Sunday. Bimpe’s parents didn’t go to church much and were hardly around, so it was nice to have this couple watch out for he in this way.

Then one day, as she prepared to go to sleep right around 10pm, she got a text message- it was from Mr. Oye- a picture. “Wait, is that what I think it is?” She thought. Why would Mr. Oye be sending her a picture like that? And at this time of the night? Another text came in shortly- “this could be yours, let’s talk in the morning”.

Bimpe felt an uneasy feeling in her, she thought to cancel her ride with the Oyes to church the next morning. But then she figured, Mr. Oye would not do or say anything stupid in front of his wife. Besides, right now, she could not make alternate plans for her ride to church. She decided to go to church with them, but she was going to give Mr. Oye a piece of her mind and tell him she did not rides with him anymore. And with that thought, she went off to sleep.

Bimpe was shocked to see Mr. Oye was alone in the car the next day. Her heart was pounding hard, as she stepped into the car. There was an awkward silence for about twenty seconds and Mr. Oye spoke up- “so what do you think about my text last night?” She drew in a deep breath, and then said “I would appreciate it Sir if you don’t try to throw money in face or even ask me out again, and I will forgive your indiscretion with that picture last night, but please know this is my last ride with you”.

Wearing a wide grin, he turned slightly to her and said “I have had my eyes set on your for a long time. I promise I will be good to you. My wife travelled and I am thinking we could go back to my place after church?”. “You are a leader in church, and you are married! Why would I want to go to your place with you, and to do what exactly?” Bimpe fired back. At that point, Bimpe had heard enough. “Please stop the car”, She said quietly.

She frantically looked out through the window, looking for a signpost that could show where they were. Looking back at Mr. Oye, she started to scream “where are you taking me? Stop this car!” Her screams were met with silence. She brought out her phone and started to dial a number, but she did not pay attention to Mr. Oye who quickly snatched the phone from her. She started to plead with him to please let her go, but it was falling on deaf ears.

He pulled into a corer which seemed like a lonely road. Before she could say anything else, Mr. Oye pounced on her. With one hand he reclined her chair, while the other had her pinned down, supported by the weight of his body. Determined not to let him have his way, she wiggled around, tried to fight him off, but the fact that she was wearing a skirt did not help.

Bimpe was starting to get tired and weak, but Mr. Oye was not. She silently prayed to God to please help her because at this point, most of the buttons on Bimpe’s shirt had come off, her skirt was pushed up to her waist, Mr. Oye was definitely winning this battle, and a part of her was about to give in, then a miracle happened. They were both startled by the pounding on one of the windows. While the driving path seemed lonely, there is a foot path commonly used which Mr. Oye was unaware of.

Mr. Oye jumped off her, trying to zip up his fly. Suddenly, to Bimpe’s shock, he started yelling- “Jesus, what did you do to me? How did we get here? The person who had knocked on the window looked beyond shocked. “Elder Oye, Sister Bimpe, Blood of Jesus! What is going on here”? Mrs. Daniels yelled. “It was the work of the devil, she seduced me”, Mr. Oye said. Bimpe could not believe her ears, but in the immediate, she just wanted to go home.

She could swear she heard Mrs. Daniels giving glory to God for ‘showing Mr. Oye mercy’, and calling her names like Jezebel, but she could not be bothered by the woman’s gullibility at this point. Turned out, they were not that far off from the church. It was a different route she didn’t know existed.

As Bimpe walked away from the scene, it all came back to her. Clearly this is not the first time such an act had happened. She remembered Joy who used to be in the choir but left the church. It became obvious to Bimpe that Joy was telling the truth when she said the choir leader raped her. Everyone questioned poor Joy as to what she was doing at his house, but how could she have known? He forgot his phone; she found it and decided to take it to him at his house. Yes, she knew he lived alone, and yes, she went in when he offered her a drink- “it is the least I could do to thank you”, was what he said according to Joy, so she went in, and he raped her.

No one believed Joy, people like Bimpe were brought in to speak to the character of the choir leader versus Joy, and Joy’s past life was really what worked against her, and the choir leader won. Mr. Oye presided over that ‘investigation committee’, and they banned Joy from the choir. They called her Jezebel, and said she seduced the choir leader. He went free, she left the church, never to set foot into another church.

As Bimpe walked away, she had no doubt similar fate awaited her. Now her eyes are open. It’s a shame that it took her almost getting raped to see it, but it raised questions like- ‘how much of this had gone on in her church, yet the leaders kept mute, which has led to more men in spiritual authority taking advantage of unsuspecting young girls?’

So on this day as this committee led by Mrs. Daniels was trying to do the same thing to her as they did to Joy, Bimpe was determined not to give up without a fight, so she drew their attention to Joy’s case by her daring question to Mrs. Daniels. The awkward silence and the knowing look they gave each other said a lot.

Rising to her feet, she said to them- “I hope one day it won’t be one of you in my shoes or Joy’s, I pray it won’t be too late before you realize that you need to do better than this. I would pray this over your kids if that is what it takes to open your eyes, but I could never wish this type of evil on anyone. So please just open your eyes, and do the right thing here. There are no excuses for these men to do this to us girls”. That said, she started to walk off, hanging her head down in shame and feeling defeated.

 “Wait!” Mrs. Daniels said. “Please come back and sit down, Bimpe. You are right, and I am sorry.  We all know these men are guilty”, Mrs. Daniels said, turning to look at the other Associate Pastors. “And we really cannot turn a blind eye. I am going to need you to step down effective immediately Eder Oye, while we deliberate on our next steps”. Mrs. Daniels then went on to outline the expectations for Mr. Oye including a deadline to come out to his wife about his actions. She also proposed a plan to Bimpe about starting a young ladies group in the church to help redefine the identity of women based on God’s Word and not on culture and traditions of men.

Bimpe could not believe her ears, and she was grateful to God for the bravery to have spoken up. She was beyond ecstatic about what she was hearing. Best part about the turn of events was when she gave Mrs. Daniels a condition that the church had to call Joy and apologize to her, while also confronting the choir lead, and Mrs. Daniels accepted the condition. When the day was over, it felt good to see Mr. Oye put where he belonged and she had new admiration for Mrs. Daniels, not to mention the strong message her decision sends to the other men.

As she headed for home, she decided to use the bathroom quickly. Drawing closer to the men’s which is on the way to the females, she heard muffled cries. Out of curiosity and concern for who it might be, she stopped and knocked- no response. She thought to herself maybe she heard wrong, so she backed off, about to continue on her way, that’s when she heard the scream- “helppppp”! Without thinking, she kicked the door down. Others had heard the scream too and came rushing there. The person heard her knock and took a chance to scream.

The sight before them was one she doubted any of them was going to forget in a hurry. When Mrs. Daniels, got to the scene and saw what was going on, she passed out. Turned out, the choir lead was in the bathroom, and had been caught in the middle of raping a six-year-old.

That six-year-old was Mrs. Daniels’ only daughter. If Mrs. Daniels never took a U-turn from her initial stand on Bimpe and Joy’s case, this would have been a perfect moment to turn to her and say again-“Excuse me, what’s your excuse”? But right now, that question belonged with the choir lead, as this was no ‘Joy’ or ‘Bimpe’ who had the capacity to ‘seduce a man’ (the excuse they were holding over the ladies’ head). This was a six-year-old, so then, what’s the excuse?

“our silences and excuses will continue to empower rape and sexual violence perpetrators. Stop excusing bad behaviour“- Anita Adefuye.

Categories
Blog Survivors Corner UnderstandTEEN-YOUTH

No Daddy, I am not Ready!!!

It was the year 2003, December 1st was fast approaching, my daddy had promised to buy me Christmas outfit this year, and the hunt starts by December 1st. There was a two-year ban on buying new clothes for me because my Dad thought I was getting too ‘boogie’. I needed to learn how to be okay without certain ‘extras’. I was excited and looked forward to it. Somehow I had learnt something and now deserving of these ‘extras’. In his words, “I was ready”.

No! I was not ready for what actually hit when December 1st finally came. To think he said it for three years. This was what he meant? Then no, I was not ready. No one is ready for such. Okay, honestly, by that date, he took a trip to Portharcourt. We lived in Warri, he was sick, and needed to travel and be with my mum (there is a story there). So no biggie, it just meant, my new clothing purchase got postponed. He would return when he felt better, and we will go on this shopping spree.

Couple days in, on a nice beautiful breezy afternoon, I lay on the floor directly under the ceiling fan, with the house door wide open. The natural air, coupled with air from the fan, worked synergistically to offer a soothing feel to my troubled teenage soul. Lost in the thoughts of the dreams (no visions) I have been having for a while, I was jolted back to reality by a familiar voice.

My paternal uncle had come to visit. “Didn’t he know my Dad was out of town?” This was my thought, as I heard him say hi to the neighbours. His very intimidating voice filled the house in no time as he stepped in and said “pack up your things we are going to see your Dad”. Scared, was an understatement for how my brother and I felt in that moment.

This story is not about what happened before that day, during or right after, neither is it really about what happened December 1st. This story is about what happened on a day in December (maybe three weeks after), which frankly, I cannot remember the precise date. It is also about something that happened more recently.

Here is what I remember though, my eyes were filled with tears. I stood there, wondering why my dad was in that casket that was going down. I could feel all the eyes that were on me, and the murmurs of pity towards my brothers and I.

I wanted to tell him so many things. To tell him that I was sorry for being so sassy. That I was sorry for being a very demanding teenager. If I could just have him wake up, I wanted to let him know that I was not mad at him anymore. I would never grumble to cook us another meal, or talk back at him. I would do anything to call him ‘DADDY’ for once in my life.  Most of all, I wanted to tell him that no, I was not ready. I wasn’t ready!

No child is ever ready to do life without the covering of their parents. As I cried silently, with the tears rolling uncontrollably, I made a commitment- never again would I let anything hit me so hard. And that day, a part of me died. I was told I had to be strong, me tears were seen as weakness, so I also swore never to cry. For the longest time, almost nothing could bring me to tears,

Like I said, I don’t even remember this precise date, but I was not ready, not just for my father to die, but for the roller-coaster of emotions that swept me from that point on. All those emotions stayed bottled up, until it was almost too late for me, but GOD!

If you have not read about my write-up on “why you should know about the mental health spectrum”, seriously, pause and read it right now!

It was until recently, I realized why I spent so many years, on the “ill and injured” ends of the spectrum, and that was simply because I was uneducated, so was my family. And like them, a lot of us think that when traumatic experiences happen, that somehow, with time, it would all just go away, or that ‘good grieving’ (if there is anything of such) meant, not showing your pain.

We live in this assumption that if the traumatic experience affects us in any way, then we must be weak. This is wrong thinking, because truth be told, like me, YOU were not ready either to be hit by whatever your own experience was/is. And like me, time won’t just make it go away. 

But there comes a point, eventually, when you HAVE TO BE READY. Ready to be healed, and that starts with taking inventory to know where you are. It also comes with realizing that grief sometimes is part of the living’s experiences, not something we carelessly and passively leave to time and chance, in hopes of it just going away.

Lately, life threw another curveball, not just at me, but the whole world- with the death of Chadwick Boseman. I cried, it hurt. Don’t ask me why, I never met him, but he meant something to me. At this point, I had now learnt that feeling our pain does not mean weak, it means I am human, capable of love, not immune to loss.

Chadwick Boseman, Star of 'Black Panther,' Dies at 43 - The New York Times
RIP Boseman. I unashamedly admit my pain of your loss.

While you may not have been ready for the negative experiences that hit you, if you have ever connected with me, read this thus far, or you have recently shared your experience with a trusted person, then I say to you in my father’s voice- YOU ARE READY!

The sheer joy I felt when I finally admitted to being ready for healing. The times I have retold my experiences to myself, my husband, pastor or others, it helped transition me from one one end of the mental health spectrum to the other. I could finally say “Yes, Daddy, I am ready!” Are you?

It is a New Month, you better be Ready to let a new you ARISE. You deserve to be happy, to be filled with joy, to live and breathe again. We owe it to those who have gone before us, I would love to leave you with this song- “Tell your heart to beat again”.

Welcome to September, welcome to a new YOU.

Categories
Blog CSA Survivors Corner

What if you could take a peek into the Future….

The Adult Life of A Sexually Abused Child

What if you could take a peek into the future to see what the adult life of a sexually abused child look like?

Well you can. But today I will not be sharing my story. I will be sharing someone else’s. You know yourself and I want to say thank you for sharing!

But before I share the pictures of this comment, let me first say this: the impact of child abuse manifests in so many ways in the life of the abused, and can oftentimes follow them years into adulthood if not properly dealt with through counselling and therapy. And so it is very common to see things such as:

  1. Promiscuity/heightened sexual desire
  2. Anger/bitterness/fear
  3. Addiction: could be to drugs, sex, pornography
  4. Depression/Feelings of suicide/just plain suicide
  5. Lack of interest in sex/fear of sex
  6. Detest for the opposite sex/marriage
  7. Hallucinations/panic attack/flashbacks/trance of the event
  8. Homosexuality (This can either be a woman hating men so much she chooses to have sexual relations with same sex. Or if the abuse was from a person of same sex, it creates a desire for same sex relations). This is may seem hard to believe but lot more common than you may think or realize
  9. Paranoia/hostility/aggression
  10. Tendency to abuse others

Trust me when I say this is not an extensive list. There are physical side effects too, and yes- SPIRITUAL too. I can’t tell you how many deliverance sessions I attended. LOL. It actually feels funny now, saying it.

Next time someone tells you they have been sexually abused before, think of these and many more. How does that not trigger compassion in you towards them? Simply saying “get over it” or “it is well” or blurting out “just pray” may mean well, but does not help.

So, what does this list look like in the life of an actual human being? See below.

peek into the adult life of a sexually abused child. Did I mention there is also the tendency to pick abusive partners?
ha, the feelings of deadness and lack of willingness to do anything..
the feeling of loneliness, like no one would understand, but God….
this part here broke my heart. All 5 sisters in one family! This is how prevalent it is yet we are strangely SILENT about it
Truly a non-judgmental spirit is needed to view and support one another. Younger people need our help, not our judgement
I am so glad this story ended this way, sadly, this is not the reality for a lot of people who have been through sexual ause/rape
I mean this to everyone once sexually abused. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT!!! And I am sorry it happened to you and I, but it does not have to define you!

This is why I share. Why I had to find my voice, to help you find yours, and it starts with breaking the silence, that is how we can undo the culture of silence and take back our lives.

You are an OVERCOMER and believe me when I say you can live and rise above your experiences! Thanks again V.I for sharing your story with me and the world, I do not take it lightly.

How will you be of support to someone you have identified as once raped or sexually abused? Now that you know what their lives or future COULD be?

Categories
Blog My Clear Mind Survivors Corner UnderstandTEEN-YOUTH

From Suicide to Purpose: The Day I ‘Died’

Going from suicide to purpose on the day I ‘died’, I found life. I had just been stood up by my boyfriend at the time. He said he was too sick to go to class to read, I offered to cook him something and send to his room, he declined.

I had exams in two days, so I decided to go study on my own. At seventeen, I was in my first year of school. My academics was my safe place, I did it right and never joked with it. Off I went to one of the classrooms in the famous Obafemi Awolowo University and guess who I found getting cozy with his ex-girlfriend or so he claimed?

Just a Trigger

I know what you are thinking, you wanted to kill yourself because of a guy! Nah, it was not about him. Been suicidal since I was about eleven (11). Nothing helped, I lost weight, had good grades, pretty (still very pretty), had tons of family around me, drank, smoked, but felt empty. He was just a trigger!

I had cut myself a number of times, I had held a knife to my belly so many times. Once, I took overdose of a drug. There was fantasies about a car hitting me off the road. So much so, I did sometimes intentionally walk into the road in hopes….Each time, I either could not follow through or something interrupted me.

Now that we have established it was not about a boy, can we move on? So, seeing him cozy with this girl, I dialed him up. He picked and was murmuring, saying he was cold and wished I was there, they both laughed, and that laughter felt familiar.

It was not the first time someone had made fun of my naivety and gullibility. Yet somehow, the brightest idea I had of how to not let that happen again was to end my life.

I Just Want it all to End

I remember crying so hard, I ripped the chain I had on from my neck. It felt like my heart wanted to pop out of my chest, I honestly thought I was going to die from a heart attack, well that did not happen!

I walked from one end of school to another, in search of ‘otapiapia’ (a drug used to kill rats) at about 2am. They were all closed, except for one where this man took one look at me and blurted out “I am not selling to you my dear, go to your room and sleep and come back tomorrow. Bless that man!

To my room I went indeed, but not to sleep. I cried some more, pulled out a knife, put it to my belly, about to stab, when a thought hit me: “you know it won’t be fair for your roommates to find you in a pool of blood when they wake up”.

Taking a deep sigh, I put the knife down, and for the fist time pulled out my Bible. I hated God because as far as I was concerned, my horrible experiences were His fault. But that day, I prayed: “Dear God, I don’t know if you are real or there, but if you are, all I want is for you to make sure I do not wake up in the morning”.

Hugging my Bible, I slept off. Soon enough, I woke up to the sound of busyness in the room. Recalling what happened, I blurted out “God you are a coward who won’t let me come up to you” (do not ask me what I was expecting to happen when if I indeed died). In an attempt to roll over, my Bible fell and opened up. Without trying to read it, my eyes fell to a verse.

suicide to purpose
Source: https://bibleversestogo.com/

The Waking….

It was as if God responded to me saying “if only you knew what I had in store for you”. Then I saw Dupe Akinsiun (nee Osho) walking towards my room as she usually did every Sunday morning to invite me to ‘cell’. This time, I did not run out the back door. She doesn’t know, sssshhhh, don’t tell her!

Holding my Bible, I followed her without fight or questions, this same verse was read during the cell meeting, and later that day at church. That day I gave my life to Jesus Christ, dying to self, I was raised to life.

See I started that day wanting physical death so badly, but the reality of my spiritual death hit me. It hurts me that I do not remember the exact date, but it remains to me the day I went from suicide to purpose. I found a new reason to live as I hope someone out there today does as well.

The things we go through sometimes feels unfair, and I get it. But, do not let anything get you to the point of your ending your life. You may not have heard God for yourself yet, or maybe you have, but let me be His voice to you: “if only you knew what is in store for you”.

Looking back, people would have said I killed myself over a guy, who by the way never knew what happened. But I am so glad I am here today to share this, and perhaps let you know you are not alone. Hope it help you see that in depression, suicidal thoughts, you too can find purpose and life. YOU are part of my purpose and why I started LoudSilences.org.

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Blog Survivors Corner

Here Are 5 Things YOU Can Do To End Rape Culture

There a number of things YOU can do to end rape culture. Yes YOU (male, female, mother, father, single, married, teenager, young adult, student, worker etc.). Today, we will focus on 5 things YOU can do to end rape culture.

To change anything systemic, including rape culture, you have to apply systemic strategies to dealing with them on a holistic level. This would mean preventive measures (actions you can take to NOT allow rape happen), education and awareness measures (learning about rape, its impact, learning for signs). A good example of this is learning about Child Sexual Abuse, which I wrote about.

Let us not forget legislation (could serve as preventive measure or corrective measure). The sad reality is that, when this piece is missing, it makes it really hard. But we can deal with this another time.

Five (5) things YOU Can Do to End Rape Menace
Be part of the solution to end rape culture

Educate Yourself: Truthfully, if you have not experienced it first hand, or seen someone you know and love impacted, it can be difficult to relate. Some people who seem to appear as ‘rape apologists’, I choose at this time to make the argument of IGNORANCE for you, but hey, who says you have to remain ignorant? So learn about this menace, the pain it causes, the impact it leaves and the way it can silence the voice of its victims for life. Not sure how/where to start? How about Wikipedia Who knew it was that easy to get information? Shocker!

Speak up/Speak Out: See something that is not right, speak! Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, most victims have already been silenced by the pain, they need YOU in their corner to help end the rape culture. If as a parent you see another family member abusing your child or someone’s else, do not keep silent, in a bid to protect them. By law, that actually makes you an accomplice! Sensing something off, probably means something wrong, so, speak out, speak up!

Educate Others: We need to educate little kids about their body parts, and how to speak up, when compromised. Let your kids be safe with you indeed! Educate boys on the need to respect girls. Enlighten teens on the need to create boundaries. Teach girls on how to avoid compromising positions, wrong friends, and building self-confidence. According to my friend Daniel Olabintan of Karibs Foundation, if need be, teach the girl child self-defense. When you have educated yourself, and you see a rape apologist, you can join in educating them.

Stop Stigmatization: If we are serious about ending the rape culture, we really have to stop ‘casting stones at victims’ and trying to explain how the ‘victim’ may have caused the mayhem on themselves. You know what that makes you? A rape apologist. If you have nothing to say, then say nothing. But by all means, do not psychologically rape an already physically raped person. Show compassion!

Join the Fight: No, you do not have to pick up placards. Doing all the above is part of ‘joining the fight’. But maybe you can do just tad bit more. In a moment like recent events, the least you can do is share a hashtag, reiterate your commitment to end the rape culture by reaching out to organizations at the front lines of this ‘war’. Donate to the organizations, share their researches. And yes, if there are marches, and you can, join in.

Below are some of the events that took place in a one-week space:

These events continue to strengthen the rape culture if not dealt with. Remember, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”– Andrew Marshall

Feature Image Photo Credits: Philly Voice

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Blog CSA Survivors Corner

CSA – Meaning, Signs & Effects

In my last post on CSA & Your Child I promised to help us understand what CSA means. In this post, we will explore the meaning, signs and effects of CSA.

What is CSA?

It is an acronym that stands for Child Sexual Abuse, and in plain English, it would mean ‘abusing a child sexually, i.e. having or expressing any form of action/relationship towards a child of a sexual nature’.

WHO Definition of CSA
Source: World Health Organization

With CSA, people are more familiar with touching acts (such as touching a child’s private parts or making the child touch the adult), than non-touching acts. However, both can be as dangerous. So here are some non-touching acts:

  • Exposing genitals to a child
  • Making the child watch porn or inappropriate videos
  • Having kids watch or listen to adults having sex
  • Taking and sharing nudes of a child
  • Watching a child inappropriately while dressing or in the bathroom
  • Encouraging kids to touch each other inappropriately

Some Tell-Signs of an Abused Child?

Ever wondered why your child suddenly does not want to be left alone with ‘Uncle X’ or ‘Aunty Y’? Or perhaps they have become suddenly disrespectful towards a particular adult? They may be tell-signs.

I have had parents often express concerns about their kids who display inappropriate sexualized behaviours, but refuse to come to terms with the sad reality that perhaps, it is an indication of a larger problem. Sexually abused children often show physical and behavioural signs, research has shown.

Signs of CSA
Source: World Health Organization

As a general rule of thumb, if you feel uncomfortable with an adult around your or someone else’s child, feel free to speak to the child (if they are yours) or to their parent. Get that feel of ‘something’s not right’? It probably isn’t.

What if a Child Reports CSA to Me?

DO’s

  • Let them know you believe them and reassure them it is not their fault
  • If they are NOT your kids, get their parents involved if safe to do so (unless the child reports a parent as the perpetrator)
  • Gather the facts- ASK OPEN-ENDED QUESTIONS. Get as much information as possible such as where, when, who, how?
  • Take them to see a Doctor.
  • Involve Law Enforcement and Child Protective services (where available)
  • Show love and support
  • Seek professional help/counselling for them

DO NOT

  • Get angry, yell or show frustration
  • Tell the child it was something THEY DID
  • Ask leading questions.
  • Tell the child to ‘tell no one’ or promise to do so yourself
  • Invite the adult and make the child retell their story (Yes, this happened to me, of course, I didn’t share again- story for another day)
  • Pretend like nothing happened

Side Effects of CSA

From research and my personal experience, I do know that the effects of CSA can follow a child into adulthood, and each child can express different things on any end of the spectrum, at different times. A key factor I experienced was LACK of TRUST for authority figures and a number of things in the diagram below including being suicidal.

Side Effects of CSA. These can follow the child into adulthood
Credits: Cynthia Saver

Why Should YOU Care?

CSA can happen to any child under the most scrutiny. This if often because research has shown that 90% of perpetrators are known to the child and 68% are often family members. Do you know that during this COVID-19 lock-down there has been a lot of news on incest related sexual abuse cases. Mostly from older male family members to younger females. The mistake starts from not paying attention enough because we often think ‘our kids are in safe hands’.

We should also care because when we understand what CSA is, and how it can impact a person for rest of their lives, we empower ourselves with the right knowledge to do something about it.

You should care because YOUR Child or a Child you know and love may be going through this silently. I hear you say “God forbid”, to which I say “Amen”. But a little learning and vigilance added to that prayer would do a lot of good, don’t you think?

We don’t all have to experience it to fight against it. It must be a collective responsibility to protect our children.

I not only want to help create awareness for protecting children, but also empower adults once abused to rise above. As an adult dealing with past event of CSA, you may still need professional help or counselling, so seek help if need be.

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CSA Survivors Corner

CSA & Your Child

Intro…

All too often there are cases of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA), all over the world including our dear Nigeria. More rampant than we would like to admit, yet children suffer. Unfortunately perpetrators often go unpunished and sometimes unnoticed. From clergymen, to neighbours, family members and even sometimes, parents unleash this evil on children.

According to a UNICEF report, ” one in four girls and 10 per cent of boys have been victims of sexual violence” in Nigeria. What is sad is most people have these things happening in their homes, whether or no they are aware, is an entirely different story.

The story below is a depiction of common experiences faced by children and their families in this regard.

The Story

John!, Ah John, you have killed me! Aunty Jumi cried. “My own brother, ah!” Peace drove in silence. Through the rear-view mirror, she took a quick glance at her neighbour Aunty Jumi, carrying her three-year old daughter- Sade. Sade was just rescued from John forcing himself sexually on her. Turned out before this day, John had been using his fingers to molest the girl.

source: campaignliveus
source: campaignliveus

Aunty Jumi sat in the back of the car, almost unafraid to move. It all started to make sense to her now: the way Sade flinched when she tried to wash the girl’s vagina. The way the girl would cry so much whenever she was going out and leaving her alone with her uncle. Sade had become much more quiet in recent weeks. “How could my own brother do this to me?”, she muttered under her breath.

John had left their home state- Ogun to come live with his big sister. He recently got a job at one of Lagos’ top investment banks, he was to start the week COVID-19 lock-down began. He always seemed to mind his business, but played so well with the kids in the compound. Which was why this came as a shock to not just her, but everyone. That John would molest a three-year old, much worse his own niece.

Peace shuddered as she pulled into the hospital’s driveway. She brought her mind back to the present, getting out to help Aunty Jumi and Sade. Settling into the waiting area couch, she wondered what would become of this dear three-year-old, whose life has been impacted forever. She could not get the image of the bleeding girl out of her mind, it was a painful sight! And the screams, Peace shivered! “God please let her be okay”, she prayed silently.

Fact….

Source: A Strong Nigerian Woman

Perhaps Few Examples…

I get it that we cannot always be paranoid, nor can we always have eyes on our kids, but can we at least agree that we live in a very wicked world, and that our kids deserve our protection. The purpose of this is to encourage us to be vigilante, to be mindful and set boundaries. Not every child abuse case will come to light. In this lock-down and beyond, observe your child and everyone living with you. The heart of human is after all, desperately wicked and full of evil, who can know it?

Watch out for a sequel to this on what Child Sexual Abuse is and the tell-signs for your child.

Categories
Blog Survivors Corner

Scars: She is They!

She looked at herself in the mirror, rubbing the scars up and down. “I used to have a perfect skin” she thought. “Scars are a reflection of your battles won, your scars are perfect! ” said the voice in her mind.

She had relived the moment so many times. She lost a relationship because of the scars, she has been told severally “you should cover up those scars, its ugly”. But she has also been told “its brave how you open up your scars”.

She has lived in fear for the most part of her life, but she masked it well. She kept them well covered up. No! Not just the scars on her hands, the scars in her heart too.

She has often wondered what people would think if she let out those scars? She tried to let them out before, some family said “too messy don’t tell”. Others said “you slutty, no one would believe you”. And others said, “just get over it”. So she went to the church, they know better right? They said no Sis too unrighteous, let us not talk about such dirtiness, its the house of God”.

She knows that scars don’t always mean the wound is healed or the pain is gone. This is true for physical scars as it is for the unseen scars. So what is the point of hiding if she still feels the pain? She is tired, she was scarred for the longest time, and then she found her voice, alas, she spoke!

She finds others like her, each one defined by their scars, limited by their scars, hiding their scars, but she’s also seen others who rose above all of that. More so, she did not go looking for scars, it was an accident, a rape, a molestation. It was a physical abuse, it was one bad decision, and yes it scared her. She knows YOU did not go looking for the scars, just as she didn’t. She showed her scars, some said “thanks for sharing, it really did bless me”.

She came across a song- “Scars” by I am They. The voice put them together to ‘Scars, I am They’. Staring in the mirror, she realizes she has carried these scars for far too long. She worried about people’s thoughts for too long, not anymore.

She came out of that accident, and she lived. Oh yes! She survived. At first, the doctors covered up the wounds, it stank! She has covered her other scars for too long and it stank. So she opened up, and alas, she started to heal. She cannot undo the wounds or the accident, but ever since she has lived with scars. They are a testament to her conquering death! So why should she hide them?

She got healed, yes she did. She wants you to know, you can heal too. The scars, they are beautiful , they are your stories, and you don’t have to hide it no more. Now I wear my scars out if I have to, I am unashamed of them, thankful for them. We do overcome by our testimonies right? So TESTIFY! Your Scars, They are YOU, just as her Scars, they are She. My Scars, I am They.

She hopes the song ‘Scars‘ by I am They blesses you as it did her.