I trusted my father to be the one to protect me but he didn’t.
I am almost 18 years old and I will finish with secondary school by June this year. I would have finished a long time before now but I was delayed because of what my father and uncle did to me.
What did they do? They raped me and this is how it all started.
My mother is late; she died when I was about 12 years old. So, after they buried my mother; my father and I were living alone but he wasn’t taking care of me. Many times, I would not wake up early enough to go to school. My father would not even be awake to make sure I didnt miss school; he was not there to cook or care for me. I had to be the one to make sure we ate and go out every day; me to school, him to his shop; he was a furniture man.
After about a year, my uncle, who is my father’s younger brother, took me to live with him and his wife in Ikorodu. They told me I needed a woman to care for me. I was almost 13 years old and in Jss2.
My uncle’s wife did not need another child to care for; she was mean and often accused me of stealing her food and money. I confess that she was right. I stole because I was hungry but I didn’t steal all the time. Her children were also taking money from her bag but she blamed it all on me.
The only times I took money was when I was hungry. Aunty didn’t always give me food when she served her own children. She has four of them. She made me sit in the kitchen and wait to eat when everybody had eaten, so naturally, I stole money or food when I could.
I was looking through the kitchen one morning as I was preparing to go to school when Aunty rushed at me from behind with slaps and that wooden stick they use in turning poundo on the fire. She said I stole N3,000. I knew it was not me. I usually take N500 or N200 only, just to eat. I know if I took anything more, she would notice and beat the hell out of me. So, when she was shouting that Gloria has stolen her N3,000 I was answering in the kitchen, ‘Aunty no bi me, o. Aunty no bi me.’
But she just came and started beating me. Then my uncle came and rescued me from her. He took me to his room to hide me until she left the house. After she left and everywhere was quiet, my uncle came back to the room. I was crying and telling him I did not take the N3,000. I wanted to go out to carry my bag and go to school. But my uncle was just petting me, saying he is sorry his wife beats me, he is sorry. He was helping me wipe my eyes as I was crying but blocking me from going out.
That’s how it started; from sorry to touching my breasts, touching me down there, touching everywhere. Telling me he will take care of me but I must take care of him, too. I must not tell anybody what we are doing. I must keep quiet. That day, he raped me.
I was almost 14 years and was in JSS3.
Who was I to tell ? Tell who? Aunty was still angry with me, calling me a thief? I was still trying to avoid her slaps, so I couldn’t even go to her and say, see what your husband did. My uncle did that to me many times for two whole years.
Every time my father came to visit, I would try to call him aside and tell him what had been happening to me but my uncle will never allow me to be alone with my father. So, I never got the chance to say anything to him.
Then after my JSS 3 exams, my father said he would like to take me back to live with him. I felt that at last, I would escape my uncle’s molestation and his wife’s trouble.
I got to my father’s house and found out that he had a new woman in the house, I called her Aunty Grace. She was nice to me but she did not always live with us; sometimes she travelled and came back weeks later. It was on one of these days that my father started coming to meet me on the bed at night.
I had already told my father what my uncle did to me when I lived with him; I wanted my father to fight with him but he just said I should not worry.
My own father started raping me too; he said since I was not a virgin, there was no problem. He did it twice and after those times, I just wanted to die, Many times I wanted to take potash and mix with blue and just die.
Then Aunty Grace came back.
One day in school, as I was thinking of all that was happening to me and wondering when it would ever stop I told my friend at school that I wanted to commit suicide. She laughed and said maybe I am running mental.
And really, it seemed like I was beginning to run mental. That was when I just knew that I had to run away from my father, but first I decided to tell Aunty Grace. When she came back, I told her everything; from uncle’s own to my father’s own. The woman was shocked, she took me to the police station and that is how everything was exposed.
My father and his brother are in jail today and I want them to die there!
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)