If you have ever been raped, you will never stand in judgement against Busola Dakolo nor try to rationalize the veracity of her claim.
If you have a daughter who has been raped, you will never make a rape joke because those who do are sick!
If you are a rapist; then you are a beast, a monster of the highest order and you deserve what will come to you. Because you spilled blood when you raped, that blood will haunt you. It will rip your joy at the point of success, it will cut short your life at the point when life starts becoming meaningful…and if you don’t die, you will be struck with a disease that will eat you up… slowly from the inside.
I haven’t called to curse anyone; I just want to tell my story.
I was raped by an uncle and I was his victim twice. The first time was when he came to pick me from the bus park when I returned from campus and called my mother to come get me at the garage. I had just turned 17 and though I had spent one semester at the university, I was pretty much clueless about how to find my way around so me and my mother had arranged that I should wait and she would come get me.
But my mother said she couldn’t come, however, her brother had volunteered to come for me instead. He was her elder brother, a married man with his own children. he always creeped me out.
I said he creeps me out because on two different occasions before that day, he had tried to squeeze my breasts when I went with my mother to his house and on another occasion, he actually pinched my bum!
Uncles don’t do that! I remember reporting to my mother, but her reply was that he was playing with me.
What kind of play was that? I felt violated and had avoided him since then. See, at age 17, I was old enough to know to protect myself from would be predators, I was old enough to know the danger that comes from suddenly finding ones self in the midst of boys who would use me as game; but I was also very naïve on many matters. That day my uncle arrived to pick me from the park, I shouldn’t have entered into his car.
The first thing he did when he saw me was to tell me my breasts had grown bigger then as he helped me put my bags in the car, he told me he was sure I had begun to have sex now that I was in the university.
I didn’t respond to any of his leering, I just sat quietly in the car. He was groping me all over as we drove to town. I kept telling him to stop, that I was his child but he didn’t stop instead he pinched my breasts then tried to put his hand in-between my thighs as he drove.
Then he drove to a secluded area, parked the car under one tree, dragged me into the back seat and raped me even as I screamed and begged!
I was still a virgin!
I almost died! There was blood on the seat because though I am smallish in stature and he is twice my size, I fought him.
Do you know that this bastard at that time was a deacon at the church?
Yes. He was one of the serving ministers in church at that time, though he is now a pastor today.
Now, when I got home, I was so distraught, so angry, so sad. I was in a turmoil. I couldn’t wrap it around my head that I had just been raped, that my one uncle, trusted by my mother had just raped me. I mean, how do you even reason that out?
I was hurting under, it was like fire. My breasts were hurting and throbbing with pain and my mind was going crazy. I cried because this bastard was the one sponsoring my education, you see, my father was late and my mother depended on her brother for upkeep.
When we got home, he just dropped me off and told me, ‘I hope you are smart enough to keep your mouth shut…I don’t have to tell you the consequences.’
I did not keep my mouth shut. As soon as I saw my mother, I ran to her and broke into tears again. I told her what her brother had done to me.
And at that time too, I wasn’t wise enough to say, let’s go to the police or lets go to his church to report or his wife, my mother was the one I thought could fight for me. She was the one I hoped would comfort me, soothe me and revenge for me.
Humn, my mother did no such thing. She was silent for a long time. She held me close all right but her words, after several minutes of silence broke the bond between us. She said. ‘Look at the way you are dressed, you are wearing a blouse showing your breasts, your skirt is too short, your dressing provoked him, men have no restraints.’
I was 17!
I was a university student!
I was dressed in a shirt and a knee length jeans skirt! Was I meant to be wearing long sleeves and maxi just so my own uncle would not be tempted?
I had travelled all the way from Port harcourt to our town and not one single male adult looked at me or stared at me in any way sexual and yet…
This is why my mother and I don’t talk to date; as far as she was concerned, I asked for it.
I avoided my uncle throughout the holiday period. I stopped going to church, because that was where I was mostly likely going to see him and please, why should I endure his hypocrisy? A so called man of God who was also a rapist on the side?
Unfortunately for me, it happened again two weeks later. I was home alone when he came. He must have called my mother to ascertain I was alone. He came into the house, even when I told him my mother wasn’t home, because I felt he came to see my mother. He just entered into the house and grabbed me again. He raped me again.
Now you wonder, why didn’t I shout or call for neighbours or something. I tell you, I was afraid. I had been blamed by my mother for the first one, this time, they would say I invited him knowing I was home alone. More so, my mother had hinted that he was the only one helping her in the family, so I should show respect to him. I was 17 and all alone. He raped me again and for the next three years whenever I came home and no one stood up for me! Not my mother, not my uncle’s wife, who somehow found out and became hostile to me, calling me names, husband snatcher among them, why didn’t anyone talk to him? Why didn’t anyone stop him?
The thing about rape is this, no matter how many times it occurs, every time is like a first time, it is a brutal violation of your body every single time. I could not sleep, I kept having dreams that I was not at the particular place the rape happened. Like instead of going home that holiday, I went with a friend to her house instead, then the rape wouldn’t have occurred. Like if I had dressed differently, then he wouldn’t have raped me. I blamed myself and felt so much shame, so ashamed I contemplated suicide many, many times.
Life had no meaning if all I was useful for was to be held down and raped every time I went home. In my final year, I stopped going home! I lived off my friends and boyfriend that year and it was the toughest but I did it!
That one year gave me a bit of my life back. I went for my NYSC from my friend’s house and only returned home after my service year. To date, my relationship with my mother hasn’t improved, we are still estranged. I told my uncle I would not only report him to police if he comes close to me, I would kill him first! He has stayed away from me since then.
People say but this happened a long time, learn to forgive.
Here’s the thing, you can’t own my pain, you can’t determine for me how long I should hurt, you can’t tell me because so and so was also raped and she is doing fine then I too must do fine. Who are you to tell me how long I should feel my pain? Who are you to tell me I am responsible for my own hurt?
If you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, then perhaps, just perhaps you have a right to talk to me, if not, shut the hell up or this will happen to your child someday!
series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)