Welcome to the WARIF Survivor Stories Series, a monthly feature where stories of survivors of rape and sexual violence are shared to motivate and encourage survivors to speak their truth without the fear of judgement or stigmatisation and to educate the public on the sheer magnitude of this problem in our society. The Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) is a non-profit organisation set up in response to the extremely high incidence of rape, sexual violence, and human trafficking of young girls and women in our society. WARIF is tackling this issue holistically, covering health, education, and community service initiatives.
WARIF aids survivors of rape and sexual violence through the WARIF Centre, a haven where trained professionals are present full-time, six days a week, including public holidays, to offer immediate medical care, forensic medical examinations, psycho-social counselling, and welfare services, which include shelter, legal aid, and vocational skills training. These services are provided FREE of charge to any survivor who walks into the centre.
BRUISED AND BATTERED
Last December marked a significant turn in my life’s narrative; for over three years, I shared an apartment amicably with my friend Esther, a Lagosian. Our harmonious coexistence was marked by mutual support and a joint pursuit of personal development, which significantly contributed to our growth.
During the yuletide season, I journeyed to the vibrant suburb of Lagos to join Esther’s family celebration. The occasion was doubly joyful as her cousin, residing in London, tied the knot. The event resonated with pomp and splendour, captivating both local and international relatives. Adorned as the chief bridesmaid, Esther illuminated the festivities, from the engagement to the wedding itself. The celebration remained the talk of the town for several months, boasting a gathering of esteemed individuals from society’s upper echelons.
After the wedding, while the newlyweds embarked on their honeymoon in the Maldives, we chose to stay behind, relishing the relaxation until January 2023. Our days were filled with explorations around town, delightful boat cruises, and a euphoric sense of contentment until a tragic incident disrupted our joy.
One evening, as I ventured on a solitary stroll to a nearby village, I inadvertently lost my way on the trail. I stumbled upon some unfinished buildings where street touts loitered, indulging in substances and spirits. Fear gripped me when the apparent ringleader approached, questioning my presence in their territory. Despite explaining that I was lost, he mockingly referred to me as a ‘JJC’ (Johnny Just Come) and swiftly ordered his cohorts to escort me to their hideout. Threatened by his dagger and intimidated, I complied. He subjected me to a harrowing ordeal, assaulting me repeatedly, while his cohorts, although interested, were dismissed due to my condition. His menacing threats silenced me, and after the assault, he warned of dire consequences if I dared to speak up, instructing his men to leave me by the main road.
Grateful to be alive, I hailed a taxi, lacking my phone, and pleaded with the driver to take me to Esther’s house. Initially hesitant due to fear, the cab driver eventually assisted me out of pity. Surprised by my dishevelled appearance, Esther mistook the cab driver’s arrival for an aggressor before comprehending his role. She promptly offered solace, ensuring I received water and urging me to recount my horrific experience. After apologising and compensating the cab driver, she called a family friend, the DPO (Divisional Police Officer), who directed us to the station to provide a statement, subsequently guiding us to the WARIF Centre.
At the centre, I underwent medical evaluation and treatment and received invaluable psycho-social counselling without charge. The staff’s professionalism and dedication at WARIF were commendable. Guided by the in-house counsellor, I learned coping mechanisms to address trauma, understanding that I was not to blame. Additionally, attending the monthly group therapy sessions significantly bolstered my sense of belonging and self-esteem, affirming that I was not alone in my journey to healing.
Over a year has passed, and I can confidently attest that I’ve found solace mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. I have resumed my work, and in a beautiful turn of events, my partner proposed to me recently. I feel liberated, embracing a newfound sense of optimism and resilience. As for the perpetrators, I commend the diligent efforts of the police, who conducted a thorough search, resulting in the arrest of the touts and the dismantling of their den. Legal action has commenced against the perpetrator and his associates, ensuring justice is served for the crimes committed against me.
Eagerly looking ahead, I aspire to become a gender-based advocate, advocating for those affected by similar circumstances. My life is transformed, and I’m stepping into a future empowered by resilience and hope.
Many thanks to the WARIF team!
*The real name of the survivor was changed for confidentiality.
Dear survivor, please know that you are not alone, and it is not your fault. Help is available. If you have been raped or know someone who has, please visit us at:
The WARIF Centre
6, Turton Street, off Thorburn Avenue, Sabo, Yaba.
or call our 24-hour confidential helpline on