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 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 through a holistic approach that covers 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 that include shelter, legal aid, and vocational skills training. These services are provided FREE of charge to any survivor who walks into the centre.
I am Isioma*, a 23-year-old lady, and this is my story.
My parents are deceased, and I have been raised by my aunt since childhood. Immediately after the burial of my late parents, my relatives handed me over to my maternal aunt Gabrielle to train me, and she brought me to Lagos, where I started my primary education until I completed my secondary education. I recently gained admission to study Finance at one of the prestigious universities in Nigeria, and I am in my second year. My aunt has a culture whereby she makes it mandatory that her children and I engage in holiday jobs to gain experience and learn money management. In fact, it was during one of the holiday jobs that I became interested in financial matters, and that shaped my career choice in life. Upon my return from the semester holiday, I got a temporary job as a cleaner at a finance firm, and I was assigned to the tenth floor with some other cleaners. The building had several floors, and the cleaners were assigned to clean any of the floors. In the afternoon, the admin supervisor, Mr. Lanre, instructed me and another lady named Rita to clean another floor different from the assigned floor, and we got to work.
When we were done cleaning, Rita and I returned to the supervisor’s office to inform him that we were done, and then he asked us to wait as he was taking a call on his phone. Shortly after, he sent Rita on an errand to use his ATM to withdraw cash for him. I turned to go with her, but he asked me to wait for her since that was my first day at the job. Immediately, she stepped out, and Mr. Tunde began telling me that he likes me and he wants us to have sex. I told him I was not interested, and then he began making promises that he would give anything and that I should name my price. I maintained my stance and turned towards the door to leave. Mr. Tunde dragged me close to himself and tried to kiss me forcefully, and I pushed him away with all my strength and dashed for the door. He dragged me back and quickly locked the door with the keys, and then he pressed my neck to the wall, held my throat tightly, and almost strangled me. I still cannot tell how I survived. While I was gasping for breath from the struggle, he overpowered me, pulled off my tights, and forcefully raped me. I was shouting for help while Tunde was raping me, but I had lost my voice due to the earlier struggle, so no one could hear my cry for help.
When he finished the act, he released me and threatened to kill me if I ever told anyone that he raped me, and he also said no one would believe my story. Unfortunately for him, he wore a white shirt, and it was badly stained with makeup and other stains. He opened the door and asked me to leave. I was feeling sad and traumatised, so I went to the cleaner’s room, got my phone, and told my colleagues. Then they called my aunt on the phone, and she came around, and we went to the agent’s office, and he was a kind man. He set up a meeting with the Human Resources Manager and other management teams; he also drove us to report the case to the police station, and we were referred to the WARIF Rape Crisis Centre for medical assessment, treatment, and psychosocial counselling.
I arrived at the centre bitter and angry about everything. I was so unstable and sad and felt that life was over. Nothing else mattered anymore because Tunde took my virginity, which I had been preserving for my wedding night. What a cruel way to lose one’s virginity! However, I am grateful for the referral. The counselling sessions were so helpful, and the counsellor helped me see the bigger picture and encouraged me that it was not my fault. My self-esteem and self-worth were restored after the sessions, and I now believe in myself more. The good news was that Mr. Tunde, the perpetrator, was arrested and charged with crimes committed against me, and at the court, many more cleaners whom he had abused in the past came out to testify that he had threatened to kill them after molesting and abusing them sexually. You can’t begin to imagine the trauma those ladies endured for several years. However, I am happy that he will no longer be able to use his position and power to molest any lady.
I’m also so glad that I could access medical assessment, treatment, and psychosocial counselling all for free at WARIF CENTRE because the counselling sessions were lifesaving for me. The counselling sessions were very helpful in helping me heal emotionally, and I believe I deserve better. I am progressing one day at a time, and I’m excited about my progress. I have resumed classes at my university for the new semester, and I’m functioning well academically. My goal is to become the best version of myself and be an advocate for ending gender-based violence.
*The real name of the survivor has been 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: