Welcome to the WARIF Survivor Stories Series, a monthly feature, where stories of survivors of rape and sexual violence will be shared to motivate and encourage survivors to speak their truth without the fear of judgement or stigmatization 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 organization 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 which covers initiatives in health, education and community service.
WARIF offers assistance to survivors of rape and sexual violence through the WARIF Centre a safe haven where trained professionals are present full time, 6 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.
This is Aisha’s Story:
I cannot over emphasize how glad I am to be alive to tell my story to the world today. My name is Aisha and I am 14 years old, although am quite young but I believe the experiences I have gone through has helped to shaped my life for the better. I believe am positioned for a great future having survived my ordeal.
I was born into a family of three where I am the oldest siblings. I have a younger sister and a brother. Growing up was quite challenging because we were poor and my parents could barely provide for me and my siblings. We could not afford three squares meal per day and most nights, we went to bed hungry.
My father was a mechanic who never made enough money to cater for us because his skills were inadequate in this modern era and my mother was a petty trader who sold household commodities. My mother was always out of goods to sell to her customers as she would spend both the capital and profit from her business to feed the family.
My parents marriage was very toxic and I cannot remember any day where they were not shouting or fighting. These fights were initially just verbal but then it graduated to physical abuse. My siblings and I were always at the receiving end of this torture, there was always transferred aggression to us even though my mom would adjust whenever we pointed it out to her. After a while, the fights began to affect my mother’s mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. She was an orphan with no friends so there was nowhere to turn to for help.
After an intense altercation that left my mom bleeding from her face as a result of a series of beatings, she made up her mind to leave the marriage for good. It was a few weeks after I had turned 7, we got home from school and found out that my mother had taken her belongings and moved out of the house to an unknown destination. We waited for her to return but up till now as I narrate my experience, we have not set our eyes on my mother. My siblings and I were left alone with an abusive drunkard.
I was suddenly thrown into a world of chaos with two younger siblings to look after and a father who did not care. It was a very difficult time but because I am smart and hardworking, I was able to adjust to our new life quickly. I learnt how to bathe my siblings, prepare meals and clean the house. I felt it would be an eye opener for my father but he carried on with life as usual, not bothered about our academics or how we fared generally. Whenever he gave me money for food, I managed the money judiciously and we only ate two meals per day; breakfast and dinner so we would not go to bed hungry. Most times, the petty traders who sold commodities were always helpful because they understood my predicament.
You would think that I had suffered enough for my age but alas the worst was yet to come. My dad still kept late nights and on this fateful day, my siblings had retired to bed but I always had to stay up to let him into the house. After he entered, I asked if he needed anything and he requested that I come into his room for a chat. I came in and he beckoned on me to come closer and within a split second, he lifted me up and placed me on his laps and before I could understand what was happening, he inserted his fingers into me and started fondling my breast, I was in shock confused and felt this must be dream I needed to wake up from and so I couldn’t shout as he repeatedly inserted his fingers deeply into me. I was bleeding and crying at the same time. When he was done, he instructed me not to inform anyone else he would deal with me. He further threatened me that it was a normal thing to do for him to help prepare me to avoid pain during childbirth when I get married in future.
I left his room hearted broken and I made up my mind to end my life the next day when my other siblings had gone to school and my abuser to work. I prepared my younger ones for school and as usual my daddy had left before dawn. The next day, i left my house to accomplish my suicidal attempt but I could not as I kept roaming the streets until late at
night, I thought about my younger ones and the untold hardship and pain my exit would cause them and so I decided to return home and bear the torture.
When I felt better I returned back to school. My classmates and teachers sought to know why I was not in school for some days but I didn’t tell anyone because of fear. I endured this pain until a year later when my daddy moved his plot further and ordered me to undress and forcefully had sex with me. He raped me repeatedly until he was satisfied. Obviously, he was enjoying himself while I suffered the agony, pain and torture from the abuse.
My ordeal continued until when I gained admission to secondary school, my class teacher was a Godly woman, caring and very observant. From my first encounter with her, she knew that I was an unhappy child and my academics suffered greatly because I was turning out low grades. She became close to me and took keen interest in me. Whenever my dad abuses me, I do not bother going to school to avoid any suspicion and so that no one would find out. Fortunately for me that has worked out well until I met my current class teacher, Mrs Tolulope. One of the nights after enduring another round of sexual molestation by my perpetrator, I resumed school the next day with abdominal and vagina pains. I immediately told my usual lie that I fell ill but she was not buying any of that. She called me into her office personally and inquired the reason why I did not come to school for those days. I burst out in tears because for the first time, someone cared about me to miss my absence. I narrated my entire ordeal to her and she took the issue to the school authorities. The school authorities alerted the Police and my daddy was arrested and now at the custody of the Police.
The Police authorities referred me to WARIF CENTRE because I had been battered mentally and emotionally and psychological and I needed help but I didn’t know what type of help. At the WARIF CENTRE, test was carried out by the medical practitioners and I was able to access psychosocial counselling for free to heal from my trauma and also taught the coping mechanism. My counselling sessions with the counsellors have been very helpful. The centre facilitated my move to a safe haven. My siblings and I are now in a shelter free from the perpetrator.
I can testify that I believe more in myself, I have also learnt about sex education and surprisingly, I have forgiven my perpetrator. My goal is to become the best version of myself and help others who are suffering like I was in the past. I also appreciate myself more and am living my life one day at a time. I’m excited about my progress made so far
Dear survivor, please know that you are not alone and it is not your fault. Help is available.
If you have been raped or you 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 08092100009. For questions or more information please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Real name of survivor changed for confidentiality