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 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.
We had just moved into the neighbourhood a few years ago after my father lost his job. My dad ventured into a business introduced to him by a childhood friend, and he lost his entire savings. That is a story for another day, but the consequences of his actions hit us so hard that we had to move out of the 3-bedroom apartment to a self-contained room in a big compound. My mother started a petty trade with her savings to enable us to feed while my father began actively searching for another job. I have three siblings, and it is not easy fending for a family of five with my mother’s small-scale business. My family took solace in the fact that my father always doted on us while he was working, and we were hopeful that my father would secure another job soon.
Not long after we had moved in, I noticed that we had several young men living in the compound, and among them was a gentle-looking one named Nnamani. We felt he was usually quiet, and we labelled him as anti-social. Some months later, a woman visited him with a son, and my parents decided to ask him who she was, and he told us she was his baby mama and not his wife. Meanwhile, I was done with my WAEC and was waiting to write my JAMB exams. I was enrolled in lessons by my parents to prepare for my forthcoming examination. Some months later, I wrote the exams and passed with a high cut-off mark. I also wrote the post-UME and got admission into one of the prestigious universities in Nigeria.
As I readied myself for university life, the ASUU strike disrupted my plans, leaving me home alone. Nnamani’s presence with his baby mama made me feel less isolated until one day, finding me alone, he approached our room. With my family away, he suggested we become friends. Curious, I sought clarification on the nature of this friendship. He described it as chat and game buddies on a platonic level, and I agreed to the idea.
Nnamani usually came by our apartment room to greet me every morning when my parents and siblings went to work, and we began talking about many things and everything. He was someone who could hold a conversation, and he struck me as a very intelligent young man. One day, he came and said we should play card games, and whoever won would send their nude photos to each other, but I did not take it seriously as we played the game. To my amazement, he won the first set, and I won the second set, and vice versa, until we ended the game. Usually, I won all the games we had played in the past.
Later that evening, I received the photos of his nudes, but I refused to send mine to his phone. The perpetrator saw me the next day and called me a coward for not keeping to our agreement. I felt insulted, and later in the day, I forwarded my nude pictures to his phone. A few weeks later, he came to my apartment door, knocked on the door, and rather than wait for me, he came inside, pushed me on the bed, and forcefully had sexual intercourse with me. Afterward, he threatened to kill me if I ever told anyone about the incident. He began coming to my apartment room every time my parents and siblings were not around to rape me, and he raped me on six different occasions and kept repeatedly threatening to kill me and forcing me to swear an oath not to tell anyone. I lost my sense of self-worth and dignity, and I began to experience insomnia, flashbacks, and loss of appetite. I also began contemplating suicide as my brother began to persistently plead with me to confide in him because he felt something was not right with me.
My mother noticed the changes in me and urged me to open up. Thinking I might have experienced a personal heartbreak, she persisted until I finally confided in her. Shocked by what I revealed, she immediately contacted my father, who swiftly reported the case to the police. Nnamani, the perpetrator, was promptly arrested and charged. Following our referral from the police, we sought help from WARIF Rape Crisis Centre. There, I received free medical assessment, treatment, and counselling sessions. The counsellor assured me it wasn’t my fault, restoring my hope and confidence. After being certified medically fit during my last visit, I resumed my studies at the university, pursuing my dream of becoming a medical doctor.
Approximately half a year ago, the perpetrator admitted guilt in court and received a sentence for the crimes committed against me. Simultaneously, our family received a double dose of good news: my father secured a rewarding job with a foreign firm offering numerous benefits like accommodation, education, travel, and medical support. This positive turn has brought me a profound sense of fulfillment, prompting me to prioritize intentional self-care and celebrate my progress on the path to healing, guided by the counselor’s teachings.
Looking ahead, I’m enthusiastic about the upcoming chapter of my life. Attending WARIF group therapy sessions allowed me to connect with fellow survivors, fostering strong bonds and teaching me effective coping strategies. Being part of this community of survivors has provided invaluable support, and I owe this sense of belonging to the exceptional professionals at the Centre.
Many thanks to the WARIF TEAM, and keep up the good work!
*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
For questions or more information, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org