She cuts across as an elegant, lively, friendly and charming lady known for her flair for tight, curve-revealing jean trousers and sunglasses. These and many more make Sharon (not her real name) a desirable personality in Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. Although she got admission when I was at the verge of graduation, we still had the time to build some great friendship.
I have always been blessed with the special ability to get people to open up to me on their intimate secrets. Maybe it’s because I love to use my personal experiences to admonish and coach people. In one of our intimate discussions, Sharon revealed to me how she had been raped several times by her dad from age 12 till she finished Secondary school. Tears dripped like an overflowing stream down her cheeks as she sobbed. Behind the pretty lady I saw a woman locked up in a box of pain. I did the much I could then to put her in the path of emotional recovery. It’s been about 4 years now. I recently called her to ask if she would be willing to share her experience with the world knowing that there are many young ladies out there who are groaning under unexplainable pain. She was a bit reluctant but after I revealed how her story could be a help to someone out there, she agreed but under the condition of anonymity.
We are resident in two different cities so for the sake of convenience we decided to have an interview via the Black Berry Messenger (BBM). Here are excerpts of the interview:
Treasure (For EvictRapeAfrica): Hello Sharon! Thanks for finally giving your consent to this interview. Please be free, your identity is secured as agreed.
Sharon: lol! No probs bro! It’s not a big deal as long as it’s going to be a blessing to somebody out there. By the way, kudos to you for your e-content project against sexual assaults. I have always believed in you.
Treasure: *smiles* Thanks Sharon. For the sake of the people out there, kindly introduce yourself.
Sharon: Well, Iam ****. A recent graduate from the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. I was bred and brought up in Lagos, Nigeria. I am from the South-south zone of the country. I love music, I take each day as they come. I am your girl next door.
Treasure: Kindly tell us your experience with your dad as you narrated to me back then.
Sharon: It’s really a long story and a sad one also. That a man who should be a protector to his wife and kids turns out to be a predator. It all started somewhere around my 12th birthday. I grew up real fast, started seeing my period at the age of 10. So, as it 12, I already had fairly developed boobs and all that. We grew up hugging and kissing my mum and dad.
One day, after returning from school, I met my dad at home. He ran his own business so he had some time freedom. He called me to his room, asked me about my day; I had a terrible day, so I just relaxed on his bed and starting gisting with him. Soon I noticed he moved close to me and said “you are so cute my baby, daddy loves you.” He kissed me real good and started fondling my boobs. I was shocked, “Daddy why are you doing this?”I asked, he replied “you are a big gal now and daddy doesn’t want you to get spoil outside, this is just to show you that there’s nothing there.” Later that same week, the same thing happened again! That’s how it all started
Treasure: How did you react? Didn’t it come to your mum’s knowledge?
Sharon: Sincerely, I was very confused. I grew up believing so much n the love of my dad. He’s the first male figure in my life. The question that kept running through my young mind was “is this still another way to show love to a child?” Dad made me promise not to tell my mum. He would buy me anything I needed. I was much closer to him than my mum so I just kept my peace. As for my mum, she never got to know. Infact, there’s no way she would have believed if I had told her cos she had this reverence and fear for my dad.
Treasure: So, were your dad’s assaults limited to foreplay alone?
Sharon: I wish! Fondling, kissing and caressing were what he did for a while until somewhere in my SS3 he had sex with me. He wasn’t the one that deflowered me though. My secondary school boyfriend did.
Treasure: So, how did it make you feel?
Sharon: I felt worthless, useless, dirty, like a rag… it’s a feeling I can’t describe, you don’t wanna be in my shoes!
Treasure: What impact does the experience have on you emotionally and psychologically?
Sharon: I could only try to find a few words to describe it. Sometimes when my mind goes back replaying those scenes, I feel very depressed. Sometimes, I just start crying. My mum would ask me what the problem was and I would say “nothing.” Now tell me, how do I tell my mum this story cos she doesn’t know about it till now. I tried drugging myself to death some years ago. A book can be written just to explain the negative effects.
Treasure: Has the whole event of sexual assault stopped now?
Sharon: Yea! My parents had some marital issues and my dad had to move out in annoyance. They have been separated for some years now. It has stopped but the memories are still fresh, they replay themselves in my mind from time to time.
Treasure: Are you still in touch with your dad?
Sharon: Yep! He calls me from time to time. He’s still responsible for my up keep. He’s a good person actually. I think some sort of demons of sexual perversion possessed him.
Treasure: So, have you forgiven him?
Sharon: Hmm… I could say so. He once called me to his room and knelt down with tears in his eyes and begged for my forgiveness. I could have as well poisoned him out of the bitterness in my heart but thank God for Christ.
Treasure: Do you intend to keep this secret from your mum forever?
Sharon: It’s been some good years that this whole thing happened. How do I start to reveal it now? It’s a hard one! I’m even still surprised how it came out of my mouth the first day I mentioned it to you in school. Well, if God wants it to be revealed, He will do it in His own way. My concern is to totally get over the effect.
Treasure: What other effect does it have on you?
Sharon: I see men generally as a pain. It’s really hard for me to trust a man right now. I’m still trusting that God will help me on this so that I don’t end up driving my destined life partner away.
Treasure: So, how did you get over the pain?
Sharon: I can’t say I have gotten over it completely. But at least, it doesn’t affect me as bad as it used to be. I confided in my Pastor’s wife. She helped me a lot. She doesn’t know my parents at all. Then thanks to you for some of those words you kept telling me after I told you. I always remember you saying “God creates ministries out of our miseries.” That statement rings a bell.
Treasure: Looking at that, have you thought of a way of using your experience to help other sexually assaulted people?
Sharon: Sure! I used to think I was the only one who have had such an experience until I started interacting with alot of ladies. See, many people you see on the street with nice clothes are dying in silent pains. With time, I will create a hub where people can gather and share their experiences and get counseled. I could help in counseling anyone who needs it. That’s why I was willing to share this interview. But for the sensitivity of the characters involved, I wouldn’t have mind revealing my identity but let’s leave that. The lesson is the most important thing.
Treasure: Sharon thanks for sharing sharing your intimate secret with us. So, what’s your final word?
Sharon: Teekay, it’s a pleasure! My final words: Firstly, to parents, remember you are just a steward in the upbringing of your kids. Someday, you will give account to God. Secondly, to the sexually assaulted, learn to put a stop at the onset. Don’t let it linger, cry out! Scream if you have to, don’t be scared, God will protect the innocent always. The more you keep silent, the more it lingers. Kids should be given proper sex education. At certain age, people shouldn’t be permitted to touch your kids in certain sensitive places.
Finally, to the society, stop the stigmatization against sexually assaulted people. It’s sad that most times when a girl is raped, everyone blames her for indecent dressing. I’m not saying gals should be indecent in their dressing but why are we human beings? It’s self control that separates us from the animals. But it’s sad to note that animals now have more self control than some men out there! People living with HIV/AIDS can now speak out freely because the level of stigmatization has dropped immensely. Let’s do the same for sexually assaulted people. More awareness should be created by the media. That’s why I cherish what you are doing via the social networks. God bless you my brother! Our lawmakers should also ensure that the various laws on sexual assaults should be properly enforced. There should be no sacred cows!
Treasure: Sharon thank you so much for your time, your fingers must be burning out by now.
Sharon: lol! No probs Teekay! It’s a worthy course, I hope my story helps someone out there. Thanks for the opportunity.
Kindly drop your reactions and comments. Do you have any suggestions or questions for Sharon? Kindly drop it in the comments below. She will get to read it and probably reply you. PARTICIPATE in the opinion poll below: Lend your voice to the voiceless… thank you!