Trying To Mend The Broken

In the last 3 years of my life, I have become very close to more girls than in all the preceding years combined. Oddly, the one thing I have come to realize is that almost every single one of them was abused in one way or another as children. This abuse has ranged from the mild: Innappropriate touching, kissing, show-me-I-show-you to the downright diabolical: Vaginal and anal rape, forced oral sex accompanied by severe beatings and even death threats to assure their continued silence. 

They have all responded to this abuse in different ways. Some have let it define every relationship they have had with men, others have shrugged it off like it was nothing and some have made their peace with it and long since moved on. Even though I stand firmly against castration or any other form of penile mutilation in general, for these rapists and molesters, I would make an exception. I hope Cerberus, the 3-headed guardian dog of the underworld bites off their organ of defilement once they enter the hell which they so richly deserve. However, that is neither here nor there. The victims are the primary concern.  I have never been a victim of abuse myself so I am in no position to say much about it except to express my disgust with the perpetrators in a Rant which would not be very useful.

However,  I have a something written by a friend who was a victim of abuse herself. She has grown to be a remarkably strong young woman and I believe she has risen above her ordeals (mostly). She shares her stories  and opinions on abuse. When she sent this to me I knew I just had to post it up here.  So this is for everyone…

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…TRYING TO MEND THE BROKEN

“I remember the rocking game uncle and I used to play. Both of us would take off our underwear and I’d sit on the stick on uncle’s laps. Then he’d tell me to rock back and forth like I was on a horse, hitting me to go faster sometimes. I’d go fast and fast, as fast as I could go, then his eyes would behave funny and his head would fall back. When I became about 9 or 10, I would feel some sort of excitement when I sat on uncle’s stick. I’d go faster even before he asked. It was when I went to university at 16 that uncle and I stopped our private game. It was also while I was at university that I understood what uncle’s little game was and that none of my friends had played this game with their dads or uncles. I cannot understand how I didn’t get pregnant or get HIV all these years, guess I was just lucky.”

 These are the words of a very close friend as told to me.

Every time I remember this particular conversation with her, I relive the pain, the hurt, the sorrow over a childhood gone, an innocence stolen, a trust betrayed. Statistics have a lot to say about women who have been or would be sexually abused sometime in their lives. Personally, 50% of the girls/women I know have been sexually abused somewhere between the ages of 5-21. By people close to them; fathers, uncles, house maids, drivers, aunties, teachers, sisters, friends, brothers.

So this is for everyone (male and female) who has ever been a victim of sexual abuse/assault. First of all, trust me, It wasn’t your fault. Many of us are quick to blame ourselves. “Maybe I was giving off the wrong signals”, “maybe I seduced him”. “Maybe I was in the wrong place”. Trust me; none of it was your fault.

In the same way, you should never let sexual abuse define you. Never let it indicate what you become, what you would use your life to do. Of course ‘something’ has been taken from you, but you should, in no way, let it determine the course your life would take. You should not feel dirty or defiled or less than anyone else. It’s a setback, yes, but it doesn’t stop you from being whoever or whatever you want to become.

I also believe you should get tested, properly. You dont know much about the other sexual habits of the person who molested you and it would be prudent to have a proper exam to make sure you didnt get infected with anything that may hinder chances of having a normal life afterwards. 

Please give yourself some allowance to forgive yourself for and let go of whatever you believe you may have done to contribute to the sexual abuse. Then the next step is to forgive the person. This is probably the hardest step to take, but it’s the best thing you’d ever do in my opinion. Forgiving the perpetrator says ‘this has happened, it is bad, but I’m going to put it behind me and move on with my life. It’s important to realize that most of the time, the perpetrator is also a human going through some private storms (which may include, but is not limited to their own sexual abuse). You can start by saying ‘I forgive …(Insert name)’ … every day and gradually work up to a point where you feel you can let go.

Let me add here, that forgiving a person doesn’t say that you should not report the incident to the appropriate authority. That’s a personal choice, and that brings me to the next point. Talk to someone about it, whoever you feel comfortable talking about it to. Personally, the first person I ever opened up to was a complete stranger. I felt at peace with it. I don’t think I can ever tell my parents or some of my friends about it because I don’t think they can handle the hurt that accompanies such things. It might fracture them and their carefully constructed view of me.

Let me also mention that in making the decision to report the incident or not, you may want to consider how much of your life you want in the public eye. If you decide to report the case, you must be ready for the storm that may follow in its wake, especially in a country like ours. Going to the police station, writing a statement, talking to family, hiring a lawyer, maybe being on the witness stand and even being blamed for what happened (true talk).

Allow me to reiterate that sexual abuse is never your fault, and you have not lost any value by being a victim of it. It is very possible to have been sexually abused and recover from it. I did.

 

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If you have been a victim of abuse and need someone to talk to about it or you have victimized someone and would like to start talking your way toward redemption, I’ve been made aware that there is a great show on the air in Lagos – Inspiration FM’s “Sharing Life’s Issues” with Chaz B. Its on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7:00 – 8:00 pm.  You can call and speak with Professional Counselors or just bare your soul. Call (+234) 2772923, 2773923, 7673923, 7668923. Obviously, there will be other helplines available depending on where you are: Churches, Hospitals, Community groups… Find one if you need to.

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43 thoughts on “Trying To Mend The Broken

  1. A friend was raped by her cousin’s ex, she came to me that night after it happened, I’ve never felt so helpless in all my life, I cried when I’d to wash her bloodstained jeans.
    It affected her badly for a while but she has gotten over it now, I don’t think I have cos I always curse him and others like him whenever I hear a rape story.

    • These stories are all too common. It is indeed a sad state of affairs. Personally, I’m not sure what can be done to desensitize men from doing this. Because some of the cases I’ve had personal contact with involve even ‘pastors’ and ‘trusted’ men.

    • Hey Jasmine. Honestly I don’t think we can ever get past the level of cursing the perpetrators.
      Give your friend a hug for me 🙂

  2. I never make attempts to get to know the girls a shag (cum date). But this might explain some of the issues they seem to be having or are trying to explain to me. BTW Great write-up although I wouldn’t advice on someone abused going public. Maybe somewhere else but not in Naija, the stigma is going to be great, even within your immediate family. Find someone close to talk to and a way to move on.. But please don’t go public, as a lot of Nigerians won’t understand that you were an innocent victim.

    • Not going public is the reason rape is so rampant in Nigeria, the men know a girl woulddnt tell anybody so they repeat the act over and over. It needs to come out, needs to be discussed, no matter how taboo it is, rape is a part of a lot girls’ lives. I told my mum bout mine a couple of years ago, she said she knew sometthing was going on, if you caant tell your family, who can you tell?

    • And as long as people repress rape cases,men would continue to rape(and women too). We’ve imbibed every western culture we’ve seen except publicly speaking about certain issues and that’s downright sad.

  3. Clap Clap Clap, beautiful piece, I know so many people that need to read this. Too many girls I know have let stuff like this define the rest of their lives. Thank you writer, may you find peace & a man that deserves your good heart. PS: Its not wrong if you don’t tell the man you’re to end up with, some guys don’t know how to handle such news, but as you said if you decide to its totally up to you, put rejection as one of the possible outcomes. I know a Pastor who left a woman he was to marry after counselling her, but thanks once again, I’m a guy & I feel so happy reading this, I just can’t say why.

    • Thank you Keyzer, and thanks for all the lovely wishes. Yeah rejection is one of the things you’d have to deal with if you speak up. Thanks for loving the post.

  4. Beautiful read… It is really alarming how high the number of females who have been abused is. It happens everyday and will keep happening. Wish there was something we could to to stop this madness. Why are some men so evil? In anycase moving on and letting go is the best thing anyone in that scenario can do for themselves. Find inner peace and don’t let it define your life. Okay I’m talking too much now. Nice piece 🙂

  5. Wole…..nice…..this topic is among my many suppressed memories…..
    I am at peace with it and ve forgiven “THEM” cos dat was d only way I could move on

    Talking to a stranger totally works….I did it partially…I am looking forward to taking it all out

  6. I broke up with my ex because the scars from abuse she suffered as a child destroyed her self esteem. She was full of fear and was paranoid. I was overwhelmed with her dependency on me for attention and reaffirmation of my feelings and I had to let her go. I wish she’d read this long ago.

    • you can still get her to read this, to show that you want her to be made whole. her wanting re-affirmation from you results from the fact that being sexually abused makes you feel worthless. it leaves you dirty and empty for want of acceptance,hence the dependency.

    • Wow. If you are still in contact with her, maybe you could send her a link. It may help. It cant hurt. I really sympathize. People (both guys and girls) need to be able to move on. Its not easy but it must be done.

  7. I was brutally molested wen I was 12, got over it only to be raped wen I was 16. The bitterness started all over again.

    I suffered emotionally, couldn’t confide in my parents cos I knew my mum will blame me. I carried this bitterness till I heard a sermon from a teenage pastor. He spoke 4 2 hrs abt sexual abuse and hw Forgiveness was d key. He said something which I picked ” if u don’t forgive, u r giving the person d opportunity to rape u all over again”

    I fell down on my knees Dat day cried to God to help me thru this cos without him I can’t do dis. I felt this huge relief, I felt better.

    Met a guy after den, we dated, I told him all Dat happened he cried with me, hugged me in tears, made me happy and feel loved. Today we r married.

    The key is Forgiveness. Try no matter hw it hurts to forgive. Forgive totally and always ask God for the strength to forgive cos it is not easy. Sorry dis is long X_X

    • I’m over-joyed to see this. It re-affirms what my friend said in the post about forgiveness. And having faith and love certainly assist.

      I wish you a splendid marriage and beautiful children that bring you joy!

  8. *applause* To the writer, may the Lord continue to strengthen u. Too many ppl (girls n boys) need to read this.
    It’s so sad that this is an issue that’s swept under the carpet, even by seemingly educated parents. What struck me the most is what you said bout forgiveness, cos that’s the only way the person can move on.
    Good job Wole.

  9. Wow. Thanks for all the lovely comments guys. I agree that finding inner peace is important, some find it in religion, some in psychologists, some in their friends.
    About reporting the issue, whatever works for you. I personally cannot imagine making it public, I know people who have had the strength to jail their rapists. To each his own. But if you have the strength, by all means please bring the perpetrator to book.
    Once again thanks guys.
    And special thanks to Wole, for helping me find expression.

  10. Sigh.

    Wole, thanks for this article. I’m short of words so I will just RT to my followers, a number of whom have in the past also confided the same thing in me.

  11. very nice read. i feel abused ppl spend to much time carrying the trauma, talk,take action and move forward. we all spend too much time looking back and pondering the why, how and if’s. i knw it takes courage and its not as easy as we put down but its possible.
    simply by spreading the word, being open abt sexuality wit the kids ard us and also refusing to turn a blind eye to wats going on around us. i knw cos i’ve been round the full bend, thankfully apart from my dad and brothers. i would not say my mother was not watchful, bt i’m me i guess and alot ppl knew!

    • Thank you for this comment. Although I feel that no one is any condition to belittle the pain of another. Plus we all have different mechanisms of handling pain. You and I have handled ours, some others may not be strong enough.

  12. I’m so glad i got to read this. Congrats to the writer because she chose to do the right thing by forgiving her abuser. Girl-child abuse is so rampant yet swept under the carpet. no one can know exactly how it feels except you have been abused. I was also abused by my Guardian’s nephew. In fact, when i threatened to tell my guardian, i was beaten blue-black by my abuser’s cousin who happens to be a female. It affected me so much in my past relationships (4 of them, all within a space of 6yrs), that i felt all hope was lost. Then i heard a message on *letting go of your hurts* and i took the decision to do just that. sometimes, i still feel insecure, but i realized that what happened shouldn’t define who I am.

      • I’m glad i was able to share my story…….It’s not easy to forgive especially after years of no contact, not even to apologize, the offender shows up on facebook with a friends’ request. LOL…….

    • Thank you so much for this comment. One thing I forgot to add is how long it takes to finally make peace with yourself. Sometimes I find myself feeling insecure, but then I remind myself that I cannot give control of my life and my self esteem to other people. That helps. I’m hopeful that you’d get over it. You can, you’re strong enough. *hugs*

  13. Nice piece, people need to read this to construct their views and also to help build those who had fallen victims to this form of abuse, In a country like ours, its very easy to stigmatize people which I find appalling despite the level of education and exposure many of us proclaim. Life is cruel no doubt but you lose to it when you take its nature either in form of self pity or a conscience sealed in bitterness. I’ve never been a victim of these sorts of abuse myself but I rarely do find people without a dent in their childhood or teens, so in essence, if you’ve been hurt; FORGIVE (Yes, the author pointed that out rightly) and brace up. The Spirit of bravery and achievement lies in resilience.

  14. Pardon me, y’all but I have a slightly different take on the whole forgiveness thingy…I do believe the victim should forgive so she can move on with her life but the crime shouldn’t be swept under the rug, the more perpetrators that are forgiven and allowed to go scot-free, the more incidents we would have. In all my years of hearing about these rape crimes in Nigeria, I’ve only heard of one incident where the perpetrator was made to pay which sends a message to guys out there that they can get away with it even if people know about it. To desensitize guys from these cowardly and brutal acts, there must be a price to pay…I’ve never been abused but if I ever am, I hope I will have the strength it takes to make sure the perpetrator never hurts another girl in his life…

    • i do totally agree with you. forgiveness doesn’t only mean that a criminal should go without punishment (it may happen), but it also means that “one has decided (forgiveness is an option) to let go of the hurt, and relinquish whatever hold the offender may have on one, so that one may move on”. bringing the culprit to book isn’t a bad idea at all.

  15. This post is incomplete without a helpline. You write a post as sensitive as this, you need to back it up with a ‘reach out no.’, that is, if you really wanna help.

    Chaz B on inspiration FM has some nos where ppl can call and speak with ‘professional counselors’. Get these nos. and put them here. You never know whose life you’ve touched and subsequently saved. It could be the perpetrator or the victim.

    • Well, then, the mantis actually dropped a useful comment! Wonders shall never end.
      Thank you, you make a very good point. I will try to find the numbers and add them in the post.
      Thanks again

  16. Maybe this isn’t necessary and I guess it’s besides the point, but truth is, all I felt when reading this post, throughout, was pure, carefully restrained, ANGER.. How dare the imbeciles?!! I’d shred their members with a brand new Phillips grater, the bloody hell?!!
    Anyway, I’m grateful to the Writer and Wole, I agree with all that was said. Forgiveness IS key.. Deciding their own destinies and not letting some uncouth drunk, decide that for them, is what should be encouraged..

    Well written! 😀

  17. Its shocking to know even guys get abused. In my second sch then der was dis senior who always had sex wiv a set of twins and out of ignorance we all rather made fun of them.

  18. Tell someone? I can just imagine telling my mum that my sisters and I were abused by some uncle. It will kill her. She takes such pride in the virginity of her three girls..litlle does she know that we weren’t allowed to be virgins past the age of 10.. I don’t know if I’ve forgiven this man. I don’t know if I want to.. I’m not bitter or anything.. I just can’t let my mum and dad go through the pain..and then second guess their parenting.. I’m fine.. I don’t think I’ll ever find the courage to tell anybody. I might write about it someday. Being strong is the most important thing. I am stong. Anybody who suffers abuse should just find strength; it’s there.

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