‘What’s it with Nigerians these days? Did rape just start today?’
I overheard someone telling a friend about his disgust with the current ‘hullabaloo’ on rape.
We now seem to be confronting a crime we have long denied is a crime. We are now being slapped around with a sickness we have long said does not even exist. Rape is a subject we usually don’t want to talk about.
But perhaps because it is finally being stared in the face, advocates are seizing the moment to tell as many sordid stories as we can take in the hope that we will finally do something about this malaise. So, don’t get tired just yet.
And no, I have never been a victim of rape (I pray never to). But I have helped several who have been. No, I am no trained psychologist but I have been trained in Grieve and Trauma Counselling. No, I have never suffered post-traumatic stress disorder but I have held those who have.
I have held them close when they screamed from their sleep, covered in sweat and shivering from relieving their pain.
I know a young woman who was shamed because she dared to name a pastor a rapist. Yes, she was invited to state her claims in the council of the other pastors of that church. All men by the way while the ‘aggrieved’ pastor’s wife shamed her openly. She was accused of being a home breaker. No body stood up for her nor reprimanded the criminal Pastor. Instead, she was asked to apologise to the council of pastors for being a distraction…
I know of one who was repeatedly raped by a family member right under the noses of her parents. Did she complain? No. She was too scared of her parents who held the relative in high esteem.
Today, decades later, she loathes the very sight of him.
Oh, I know a thing or two about what victims of rape are going through. I know not to judge, nor to discredit their claims. I know not to adopt a holier-than-thou attitude asking why they can’t forgive the perpetrators.
Indeed, I know better than wonder aloud how come 20 years, 30 years after the abuse, they want to come out to talk about it. How they want to name their perpetrators and finally move on.
Let’s get one thing right. No rape victim wants public attention. What they crave is an acknowledgement of the abuse by the perpetrator. Maybe an apology, (though it doesn’t erase the abuse) and yes help. Counselling steps towards getting closure, healing from their trauma.
In the wake of the recent rape allegation by Busola Dakolo against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, a lot of women have been coming out to tell their own stories. And in telling, I hear a lot of commenters asking, why did it take so long?
Why are you telling us now, five years down the line, 20 years down the line, 30 years down the line?
Why are you telling your story like it happened yesterday?
You should have got over it by now. Forgive and forget…
Kindly note: nobody gets over rape. No woman does and since men also get raped, no man does either. Very few victims are able to process the abuse inflicted on them. And for those who’ve found some form of closure, certain events, words, even smell can trigger the trauma all over again and they are back to ground zero.
People process trauma differently. They respond to circumstances differently. There is no one size fits all remedy as psychologists will tell you. There is no single all-cure pill or session or therapy for coming to terms with abuse or healing from abuse.
One of the things people in the know will also tell you is that for many rape victims, male/ female, processing of this abuse can take weeks, months even years before many come to terms with the abuse they suffered from. According to rape psychologists, ‘other people may not understand why rape victims get stuck in processing rape…which is why getting counselling can be really helpful and hopefully speed up healing.
The question to ask is, how many victims of rape get counselled, especially in Nigeria? And particularly as it is grossly under reported?
Victims who were raped as children often repress the memories of their abuse for years. Some, even decades, until they become adults and understand the abuse their bodies were subjected to. It has also been discovered that male victims take longer periods to heal because of the shame and stigma they suffer in the society.
So you see, asking why a victim still feels bad even after years of the abuse is akin to asking why a victim has a scar after an assault. If you have a scar, it will itch. It will hurt. It can begin to bleed again if scratched too hard.
So dear Nigerian commenter, please understand that rape is devastating. It can be a crisis in one’s life and this crisis in some people, can last a lifetime.
And to commenters suggesting meaningless talks like ‘consensual rape’.
What did you say?
How can rape be consensual? Especially one between a minor and an adult; even between adults? Rape is rape. If it is consensual, why call it rape? There’s nothing consensual about rape. The fact that a victim did not fight back during a sexual assault only confirms what experts have said, ‘during a sexual assault, it’s extremely common to freeze. Your brain and body shuts down in shock, making it difficult to move, speak, or think.’ And might I add, this can happen repeatedly, over long periods of time.
And please, people who got raped did not ask for it as some commenters said, suggesting because of the victim’s manner of dressing. As experts say: ‘Rape is a crime of opportunity. Studies show that rapists choose victims based on their vulnerability, not on how sexy they appear or how flirtatious they are.’
And let me add here. How come Rape is high in India despite the fact that girls are covered from head to toe?
So kindly spare a thought for the victims. They are suffering already.
Don’t rape them again with your thoughtless comments.