She was almost in her final year, about to take her Basic Education Certificate Examination (B.E.C.E), at age 13. With prospects of a bright future and no fault of hers, life brought her a ‘messed up’ fate.
Giving her name as Constance, she narrated, in an interview with Abcnewsgh.com, how her well-trusted youth leader in church raped her, having deceived her with the concept of helping her develop her passion; poem writing.
She admits she was naïve, she was only 13, and the last thing to occur to her was the fact that an iconic figure in her church would be a sexual opportunist and predator.
“I was 13 years, I used to write poems, I used to read a lot. My poems were very romantic and I kept the book in my bag, it was a book I really loved, I even took it to church. I went to church one day and my youth leader saw it and asked me to see him after church.
He said I wrote very well, and why do I write so much about romance, am I sexually active? I told him no but that I read a lot of romantic novels. He said he wanted to talk to me about the poems and so I should come and see him at his house the next day. I was happy because I thought I had someone to help me develop my poems.
Monday morning, I finished my chores and went to see him. He told me to read the poems to him. I started reading and he started masturbating to my words, I told him I was uncomfortable but he said I should continue and that he had locked the door…..he pushed me onto the bed and tried to penetrate. He saw it wasn’t going through so he got up, poured water on his penis, poured water on my vagina to serve as a lubricant and penetrated.
This was in JHS 2 or 3. When he finished the first time, he wanted to go a second time even though I was bleeding but he got a call so went out and locked me in the room. I got up, wore my dress and sat on the bed, crying. Guys share keys so one guy came in, also from the church. He saw me and asked how I was, picked what he wanted and left without locking the door, so that was my chance. I run away,” and this was her first experience.
Traumatised and afraid to tell anyone, she gathered courage, went to her friend whom she thought she could trust, also in the church and told her about it. As if the embarrassment and hurt was not enough, she heard her story in every corner of the church subsequently.
Suicide became her most obvious option. She wanted a quick death, and a stab in the heart for her, was her best shot.
“I wanted to kill myself after that and I had learnt my heart was on the left side even at that age. I told myself I wanted a quick death, not suffer before I die. So, I took a knife and stabbed myself in the chest. Shortly after, I collapsed, my sister found me and they rushed me to the hospital. My mum asked me why and if I wasn’t happy but I couldn’t gather the courage to tell her. I never spoke about it.”
But that wasn’t the end, she met more devastating moments 3 years on. This time, in her own home, by her stepfather. At age 16, her stepfather raped her, severally, in her own mother’s house. This time, her mother chanced on him (the step father) the fourth time, stopped her boyfriend, took him to her room to talk and moved out of the house with him a month on.
What did her mum do about it after? Or say to her? Absolutely nothing.
When I turned 16, I was raped by my step-father. My parents had a misunderstanding, my dad got married and my mum got a boyfriend. So, her boyfriend started staying in our house. We had a 2-bedroom. My mum and her boyfriend in one and my sisters and I in one. But sometimes I liked to be alone so I’ll go and sleep in the hall….. I was asleep when I felt someone touching me so I woke and asked what is going on and he said I should keep quiet. He was holding, touching me. He fought me and penetrated. He covered my mouth and did what he did.” She narrated.
“It happened a couple of times. It happened for like a month. It happened 4 times with my stepdad….. The fourth one, my mum chanced on it and saw it. He came to lie beside me, held my mouth and penetrated and was about his business and then my mum came, saw it and mentioned his name. I just laid there and cried and he left with my mum. The next day, life went on, she didn’t ask me anything, so I felt I was even right not telling her. I don’t know what she heard or what he told her but the next month, she moved in with him and left my sisters and I in the house. Till now, she hasn’t asked me anything. Nothing.” She said.
Constance explains that the events have had dire psychological consequences on her and her relationship life. She even got health implications.
“I tried to put it aside and learn, but it was always in my head. I tried; it wasn’t easy but I got 08. This thing with my dad, it happened after SHS. In the beginning, it was horrible. I couldn’t sleep, I have sleep disorders. I shake and wake up when I sleep because that was how it was when my stepfather came around, then I go back to bed. It happens about 4 or 5 times a night so I never get the full sleep.
I still live in the house where it happened. Every time I see that, it all plays back to me. My sex life has been horrible till about late last year so my relationships have not been able to stand. I am not able to open up to anybody and because of this, my partners think I’m holding back, and when it gets to the sexual aspect, I’m always holding back…..I got an infection. Now I know it was, but back then I didn’t. I thought it was one of these things our parents call ‘white’. You get a discharge and it itches. I didn’t go to the hospital then but I’ve gone to a gynaecologist now. I constantly check my STIs, etc. and I think I’m healing now.” She said.
Over time, she has been able to heal, though the scars remain. She had this to tell other victims and the world.
“Its been very difficult talking about this. Last year, I realised I had to start talking because it was eating me up. It is not easy coming out at all. Sometimes you ask questions and answer yourself. I would say find a confidant and talk about it because the more you talk, the more it will help you come out of it.
If you haven’t been raped, you won’t understand but to others who haven’t been through, but try and be there. If you can’t listen, tell the person, but don’t be there and blaming the person, asking questions like what were you doing there.” She said.
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