I love my wife and I will choose her in the next life if allowed to do so. But something happened that changed a lot of things.
We had been married for almost 10years when the incident happened. Cult boys had been raiding our area and even though police and local vigilantes patrolled our area, when the cult boys came, our security system failed us; a number of homes were raided and some women and girls were raped…mine was among them.
The boys that broke into our house were mere boys, kids in their late teens to early twenties from what I saw. On a good day, I would beat two of them and they would cry to their mothers but there were four of them, they had charms and amulets, they had knives and machetes and they used it freely on me that day. I was half dead by the time they were done because I fought them and they cut me like tough meat!
My wife screamed and begged for my life even while they raped her…I know I passed out and came to, then passed out again because some moments were lost, I knew because of the way I found my wife later.
When they left, I must have passed out from losing so much blood, my wife called neighbours for help and I found myself in the hospital.
My mind just couldn’t process what I saw my wife go through and yet, all she was concerned about was for me. I mean, I saw three boys, climb on top of her, they hit her and drew blood and yet, she just rolled over and came to my side as soon as they left our flat!
I laid there in my own blood and wept for what my eyes saw; I wanted to remove the images from my eyes, to un-see them but I must have blanked out again.
While at the hospital, police came to take my statement as to what happened that night because the committee of landlords had gone to report the raid. When I was narrating what happened, my wife signaled to me not to report the rape…
You see, even before then, every time I wanted to talk about the rape incident, she would quickly say something to cover that conversation; she didn’t want to talk about it, she was generally acting like that past of the raid didn’t happen.
I was hurt, I understood her pain and I wanted to share that pain with her but she wouldn’t let me.
You see, I have read enough about the trauma rape victims go through; that I witnessed it and couldn’t even protect her from it. The incident diminished me as a man; I felt I had no right over her as I failed in the primary duty of protecting her under my roof. I felt I didn’t deserve her but we couldn’t even talk about this.
I wanted to know if she felt any pain, if she felt useless, if she felt dirty, unclean, you know what victims always say?
There was just silence, like, ‘no, never talk about this, let’s focus on your wounds, let’s get you back on your feet…’ but what would I be doing on my feet if my wife, the woman I love was in pain?
My wounds healed, three weeks later, I was back home and recovering; my wife wouldn’t even let my body touch hers on our bed.
At first, I thought she moved away because she didn’t want to discomfort me, you know I still had plasters and bandages…but that wasn’t it as I was later to find out…
She would not let me touch her, even though all I wanted to do was hold her tight, to assure her I was here with her, to encourage her that we were in this pain together…she left me outside. She would sometimes lose her temper and scream at me.
Ok, I understood that part. Is she reacting to the fact that I was not able protect her from those boys? I tried, I did, I fought them, they were four, they had sharp weapons, they were also drunk on something that I knew I could easily have been killed that night.
“Let’s talk, please, let’s talk” I would beg her
“There’s nothing to talk about, have you eaten?”
This is two years now; two years of watching her wake up in cold sweat, screaming, crying uncontrollably, two years of watching her dress up covering herself from me; two years of us living like strangers in the house…but smiling to the world. That rape incident made me a victim as much as my wife, where do we go from here?
Oh you talk about therapist?
Well, I don’t know, I mean, therapy is about talking right?
How do you get help if you don’t even talk about it? that’s my point. She won’t talk about it and when I attempted to tell one of her closest friends about it, you know to get that one to help her process her pain, trauma, my wife was angry with me and told me I must never discuss it with anyone.
So is it because of the stigma? Or because she just can’t visualize that day again? I don’t know but I am sticking by her and I know one day, we will overcome.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)