By Dr. Kemi DaSilva Ibru
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.
This is Oluwatoyin’s Story:
It’s my delight to share my story as I believe a lot of people will learn from my experiences. More specifically, I am grateful I don’t look like what I have been through. My wounds have become scars now, though I still remember them, but they don’t hurt as it used to.
My name is Oluwatoyin and I am 22 years now. My father met my mother when he came to set up a branch office in Kano state. My mother was serving as a Youth Corps member in the same state. This was my mother’s first visit to the north, and she was posted to teach in one of the schools in the capital town of Kano. My mother was an open minded individual and she was open to learning their culture, language and meeting new people.
My father was a young intelligent guy who graduated with a first class in Computer Engineering and proceeded to do his masters in the United Kingdom. My dad worked for 4 years to gain relevant experience after his master’s degree and acquired other certifications relevant to his field of studies, as his parents wanted him to come back to Nigeria and my dad honored their request. Upon his return, my dad got employed in one of the world-class I.T firms to set up offices in major cities across the federation. He headed a team of 20 individuals from various fields of expertise.
The first official assignment my dad did after his transfer to Kano was to the school my mother was teaching as a Corp member. The second time my dad came to the school where my mom was serving was to finalize the deal of computerizing the school. On the D- day, my mother stood up to present their findings as directed and my dad was smitten by her beauty and eloquence.
He could hardly concentrate throughout the duration of the meeting in my mom’s school. “Have gotten to my final bus-top” my dad thought to himself. My mother was a total package of what any man would desire in a woman and more. After the presentation, he went to my mother and invited her on a tour to his office to get a chance to talk with her personally. My mom accepted his invitation to visit his office and my father made his intentions known to her. My dad told my mom “You are the one, I have been searching for all my life”. He did everything within his capability to get my mother to marry him and she agreed to be his wife. The rest as is history now.
After my parents got married, they moved to Abuja where my dad was assigned to set up another branch office. My mother had my elder brother and I in quick succession. We were just 1 year and 3 months apart in age. This was planned in order for my mother to follow my dad in the next transfer to another city. My parents were worried about getting access to good medical facility in the new location and this was readily available in their current resident of abode. For helpers, we had a maid and a nanny employed by my mother’s parents. One was elderly while the other was a teenager.
My mother always visits her parents thrice a year. On one of such visits, we were scheduled to stay for 2 weeks as usual but my mom cut it short so she can surprise my dad with the news of her pregnancy. My mother found out she missed her period. She did the home test kit and confirmed her status. she wanted to surprise my dad with the pleasant news in person. Moreso, it’s been 3 years my parents had been trying for another baby. My mother called the ticket office and re-scheduled our flight tickets a week earlier than expected. Upon our arrival late in the evening, my mom ordered a cab home. You can imagine, how amazed our gateman was when he opened the gate. She told him to keep mute as we used our spare keys to gain access into our house.
We still maintained the “Hush Hush” so the surprise wouldn’t be spilled as my mother climbed the stairs up to the room she shares with my dad. As mom opened the door, what she saw made her screamed out in pain “My God help me” she shouted aloud. My brother and I ran as fast as we could upstairs. Guess what? My mother met my dad having sex with our younger maid on her matrimonial bed. My mother blanked out and we rushed her to the hospital. There was pandemonium in our house. The doctors tried their best, my dad was shaken briskly but at last, she lost the baby. On top of that she remained in the hospitalized for two months because she broke her legs when she landed on the floor. Needless to say, my mother was traumatized. Family members came visiting, prayers were made daily for her quick recovery and restoration. Finally, the doctors, told us she could go home and continue treatment at home. She was discharged and placed on a wheelchair until the cast on her legs was removed. My dad and her parents came to the hospital to take her home. She cried through the night for several days that she can no longer live in same house again else she will take her life. My mom’s parents asked for permission to take her to their residence until she felt better. Unfortunately for me and my elderly brother that was the end of the marriage.
My father bemoaned his lost for a while and moved on. Although, my mother sought legal help to allow custody of her children, she was denied. My daddy insisted she return back to her marriage. My mother was however granted access to come to see us occasionally, but she didn’t because she can’t stand being with my dad again. Some years later, my father remarried, and my gloomy years began. The woman gave birth in quick succession to 3 children probably in a bid to outdo my mom and stamp her authority in the home, I cannot say.
When I graduated from secondary school and wrote my WAEC. My results came out and I passed with distinction. My father decided to surprise me and took me on a one-week trip abroad. At the hotel, I was so happy to travel abroad for the first time and he paid for family suite. We rested on our first night of our arrival. The second day, we visited historical sites in the city but postponed our shopping till the third day but the unforeseen happened. My daddy came to my room after we had said our goodnights and woke me up. He ordered me to remove my night gown and he removed his. I saw him naked and I opened my mouth wide in shock. My father told me that he needed to dis-virgin me else I wouldn’t be able to bear children when I get married in future. I was just 16 years old for crying out loud and still a child. He said never mind, I will be gentle with you. He parted my legs and inserted his penis in my vagina and raped me. I was crying in pain and sobered silently until he was done. “What a beast” I thought to myself. When he finished, he told me it was a taboo to tell anyone that if I did, I will die. He went further to say it was a tradition that runs in the family. How disappointed I was that I would not be able to tell anyone my ordeal. I hated myself and my dad’s sight disgusted me. I withdrew into my shell, irritated and felt worthless. I also began to have nightmares and flashbacks. The rest of the trip was unmemorable for me, I lost interest in everything. He shopped a lot for me to compensate for his actions. To me that didn’t make a difference and finally, we returned home. Maybe my dad noticed I changed towards him or not. I cared less! Lest I forgot he gave me contraceptives so as not to get pregnant.
Fortunately for me, my dad did not have sex with me for another one years plus that I stayed at home. On top of this, I was elated when I gained admission to study Architecture in the University. By this time, my brother was already in 200 hundred level in another University in Nigeria.
At the end of the semester, my daddy came to pick me up which was unusual and told me he missed my presence at home. Moreso, he was already a top-management staff at his workplace, and I knew he was busy man and wondered what he was up to! He told me he wanted to take me to his new site in Abuja, but I refused. He assured me that I was safe with him and we went together and had to sleep overnight before inspection of the site the next day. He came to my room and we discussed into the night. I was happy, my dad had changed until he turned and told me, he wanted to have sex with me. I turned to see if there was someone else in the room, but it was actually my dad. I reminded him of his promises, and he told he was helpless. He forcefully ripped my dress, and I closed my eyes and felt his penis as he raped me a second time.
This time around, he did not stop, he had sex with me every day for the next three days. He threatened me, I was going to die if I told anyone and I kept it to myself. I hated my dad the more. This became my regular ordeal until I graduated from school. I became a sex slave to my dad whenever I was on holidays. My grades dropped and my friends were worried, but I refused to open up. In my final year, my mother visited my school on my invitation, and she noticed I was a bit unstable emotionally. She told me she was going to pick me up when I finished my last paper that I needed to inform my dad of shift in my exam schedules. I agreed because I had longed for her comfort and succor.
At my mother’s house, I felt peace and happiness and I did not want to return to my dad. My mother sensed something was wrong. She kept on begging me to tell her that she can tell I was hiding something. I was adamant because I did not want to die young, but my mother persisted and showered me with lots of attention and love. I felt if I needed to die, I did rather die in her house.
The final day I was going to leave, I summoned courage and told my mother that I was ready to talk. She hugged me and cried and asked what was threatening my life. She assured me; I was free to tell her anything without being judged. I knew she was ignorant of the real issue and I burst into tears and said Mummy, “daddy is having sex with me”. My mother stood up confused and asked me to repeat myself and I did. She paced around the entire room and kept on asking why my daughter? She returned, hugged and kissed me for opening up as I narrated my entire ordeal. At this point, my mother called her lawyer and also reported the case to the police.
My daddy was arrested. My utmost shock to discover that, all the tales of family tradition were all lies. I started my healing journey through the medical assessment and therapy sessions. Through therapy, I have been able to find the courage to share my story. It hasn’t been easy, as I am still on my healing journey; so many bottled up emotions to uncover and deal with. Most importantly, I have learnt that it wasn’t my fault but that of the perpetrator. At the Centre, I met an amazing set of people, who exhibited high professionalism. I am still seeing a counseling psychologist at WARIF and the therapy has helped me greatly.
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 toll-free helpline on 0800-9210-0009. For questions or more information please contact: email@example.com.
Survivor Story written and edited by Gloria Joacquim
*Real name of survivor changed for confidentiality