How a young woman survived sexual assault and broke the culture of silence #breakthebias

Rhealyz Africa Motivating Icon- An International Women’s Day Special Edition

Gender-based violence (GBV) or violence against women and girls (VAWG), is a global pandemic that affects 1 in 3 women in their lifetime. The numbers are staggering, according to statistics from worldbank.org, 35% of women worldwide have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence.

Globally, 7% of women have been sexually assaulted by someone other than a partner. As many as 38% of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner, while 200 million women have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting.

In this blog post, I’ll be focusing on sexual assault and I will share the story of a lady that experienced sexual assault as a very young child.

Topher is a Chef and a masseuse in one of the biggest cities in Africa. Lagos, Nigeria. I came across Topher on Twitter and read her touching story. Topher was 4 years old when she was sexually assaulted by her neighbor (Idowu) several times. As a young, naive girl, she didn’t know that she was assaulted.

In her words, “he was respected by all because of his family status”. She remembered her eldest sister calling him ‘bros’.

Most of the time, he’d sneak up on her whenever she was at the back of the house playing or peeing. He’d call and say he wanted to send her on an errand, then he’d keep dragging her very flat chest. He would stop her from shouting, and she would groan in pain, begging him to let her go because she never understood what he was doing. Despite her plea, he paid deaf ears to her until he eventually let go of her.

Topher was able to recollect one particular night when Idowu snuck up on her when she was about to enter the bathroom, he put his manhood in her mouth and pushed her head back and forth till he ejaculated and asked her to swallow it!

Another incident happened on another evening when Idowu made her leave the clothes she was washing. She followed him because he had already given her that ‘I’ll cut your seedlings’ look. According to him, he was the one that put the seedlings there due to the way he dragged her chest while he was younger. He increased the music and vigorously thrust his finger inside her while he yanked off her tears.  The assault and threat continued for years.

Topher dreaded waking up to see Idowu in the neighborhood. She reported it to her elder sister, who never took her seriously because she didn’t see injuries on her body. This traumatic experience has made her scared of sex and even marriage.

According to her, “I could go on and on, but here’s what you did to me. You made me fear sex, oh yes, I’m so afraid of sex. I’ve never had the opportunity to even make that choice myself. “

Whenever it has to happen, then alcohol will have to be taken to a mad level. I felt I could change it, but no matter how hard I tried, I ended up hating myself for trying. I’ve never thought of having any fantasy because I don’t even know what to choose. I’m literally afraid of getting married. “

The story of Topher inspired me because of her strength and courage to be able to share her story so that every young girl out there facing a similar situation can learn to speak up; Fear crippled her! She couldn’t speak up while she was being assaulted, and when she eventually summoned the courage, no one believed her.

There are many people out there who are also in similar situations but are afraid to speak up due to fear that no one will believe them, or threat from their pepetrators. We all have a responsibility in ensuring that violence goes into extinction within society.

Let’s encourage victims to speak up, consciously bringing an end to the culture of silence. Parents, guardians, and elder siblings should pay full attention to whatever a child is telling them because that child could be facing something terrible.

Finally, I believe we can all join hands together to put an end to violence against women and girls, let’s break the silence and encourage victims to speak up so they can find help and encourage other girls in society.

You are a survivor Topher! We celebrate your courage and bravery.

Do you also need someone to open up to, reach out to us on WhatsApp at +234 813 311 0479. You are more than your scars

#EndVAWG #EndGBV  #InternationalWomen’sDay #breakthebias #IWD2022 #endviolenceagainstwomen #cultureofsilence

Written by Oluwamayowa Ojo

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