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After rape, what next? A survivor’s perspective.

Rape survivor; fight!
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(Based on a true life story of rape and sexual assault; used with permission.)

Agatha sat on the floor with her wrapper over her head, trying to erase the memory. ‘I should have known… my fault… I’m finished.’ she thought. Uncle Charles had raped her twice in one night. And Mum wasn’t due back for the next two days.

She slept off and was woken up by a terrible dream hours later. Still in a daze, she went downstairs to get something to eat.

“Please go ahead.” a voice said.

Young lady dazed and afraid after rape and sexual assault
Photo by Melanie Wasser on Unsplash

Agatha was frightened. She looked round and then realized the television was on.

There was a nicely dressed, middle aged woman on screen but Agatha could not be bothered with a show right now. She just wanted to be alone.

“Rape was not the beginning.” the woman said.

That caught Agatha’s attention.

“It started when I was eight years old. My uncles and neighbours made me watch porn with them and then compelled me to repeat whatever they were watching. They did everything short of penetration and it was a very constant affair. I struggled with confusion, feelings of guilt and shame, and terrifying nightmares; I felt there was no one to talk to. No one would understand.”

Agatha sat down. Here was someone who had walked her shoes. Someone who understood the nightmares, the depression, the suicidal thoughts, the feelings of guilt and hopelessness that accompany rape. Someone had lived through this. She needed to know more.

The woman on the show continued talking. “I was raised by a single mum who had to do the job of both dad and mum. My dad physically and emotionally abused her so she left him. We lived with grandma who was too strict, so I had no relationship with her.

All those incidents dealt with my mind so badly that I became sexually active before ten. Masturbation became normal. When I got to SS2, I was raped by my cousin. I was just 15 years old. Everything went down the drain from there because I had no help and I didn’t know what to do. I was so focused on covering up the sexual assaults… but I know better now. I eventually got psychotherapy and professional counselling and things improved.

I’m married now, but when I remember my childhood, it still hurts sometimes. My mum totally had no idea. I advise parents to watch out for all forms of child molestation because they are also as dangerous as rape; and sexual abuse tends to progress. I wonder how different my life would have been if I just had the courage to speak up back then. Thankfully, with the knowledge and experience I’ve gained, I’ve been able to counsel so many people who have been sexually assaulted.”

“I’m deeply sorry for what happened to you ma’am.” the host said. “And I want to appreciate you for sharing your experience.”

“You’re welcome. As long as my story helps someone out there, it’s worth it.”

“So, what advice would you give someone who has just been raped?” he asked.

“First of all, you must realize that you have been wronged. A rapist is a thief. He stole your privacy and your consent. People are not ashamed when a thief steals from them. No! They cry out and shout instead so people can come and help them. So don’t be ashamed and don’t be silent. IT WAS NOT YOUR FAULT!

A rapist is like a thief that breaks in and steals something from you.
Image by TheDigitalWay from Pixabay

Then, go to the hospital. Don’t shower, change or clean up or else you’ll be destroying crucial evidence that can be used against the sexual offender. Going immediately also helps you get proper treatment, reduces the risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as pregnancy. But this is if you show up between a few hours to three days of a rape.

The truth is that navigating rape and sexual assault is a very hard path and you need help. Find someone trusted to talk to. If you think the people at home won’t believe you, then tell someone else. Let that someone also accompany you to the police to report the incident. You might need that report if you ever decide to press charges.

After you are done with these, then take your time to process the event. It’s going to be a different route for everyone but it’s a tough journey. I know because I’ve lived it and I’m still living through it. You need emotional, physical and psychological support. There’ll be flash backs. There’ll be days you just cry and have no energy, but you will pull through if you keep fighting.”

“That’s very profound.” the host said. “Let’s move on to tips for someone whose loved one has been raped or sexually assaulted.”

“Okay. First of all, allow them talk. At their own pace. On their own terms. As much or as little as they want. Don’t try to force them to talk. You don’t always have to say something. Sometimes just being there is enough comfort. If they are crying, let them cry. It’s a sign of progress because it means they are actually processing it.

Never make them feel ashamed or insinuate that it was their fault. And don’t ask insensitive questions like ‘Did you enjoy part of it?’ That’s just wrong!

Most importantly, encourage them to get help from counsellors and psychotherapists. You can’t effectively replace that professional touch.

Always remember that it’s a very long fight. Don’t say things like ‘I thought you’ll be over this by now.’ We work through things at different rates.

“This has been very insightful. Any final words before we go?”

“To everyone who has been raped or sexually assaulted, you are not a rape victim, you are a survivor. Fight to get your life back! It’s never too late to get help. Whether it was five years ago or fifty years ago, it doesn’t matter. Get help!”

Photo by Mateus Souza from Pexels

Agatha wiped her tears. “I am a survivor. I’m going to fight this.” she said as she picked her phone to call her mum.

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18 thoughts on “After rape, what next? A survivor’s perspective.”

  1. Precious Adeyemi

    “A rapist is a thief….So don’t be ashamed and don’t be silent.”

    This is so important, because a lot of people tend to blame themselves for their abuse. It’s not their fault, and just like this lady, I hope they grow and learn and get strong again. Thank you for sharing 👏🏽.

    1. Mercy Folayan

      I hope so also. Young or old, male or female, no one should be raped!
      May all survivors find the strength to fight.

  2. OPEYEMI BABALOLA

    Mercy you did justice to this and I am short of what to say or type.
    I just sometimes wonder why this has to ever happen to anyone. It is traumatic.
    “Did you enjoy it”I am sure a lot of policemen ask rape victims this particular question and it just shows that we need to teach people how to communicate.

    Thank you Mercy!

    1. Mercy Folayan

      Thank you.
      It really is traumatic my sister. Very traumatic.
      That ‘Did you enjoy it’ question is thoroughly inhumane and insensitive. It just shows that many people don’t understand how terrible it is.

  3. Another nice piece here, Mercy. I wonder if we can have a small card design with the “do’s and don’ts after rape and share them with secondary school girls.” and also have something for parents alongside a list of helplines of NGOs to contact. It may also be helpful to promote the importance of a self-defense class. Finally, considering the advancement in AI, machine learning, and the use of accelerometer and gyro, I think it’s time to create a voice-activated software that can automatically send your location to selected people when a code-word is said.

  4. Rotimi Olayiwola

    Nice piece my Sis. We all need to do everything possible as an individual to protect everyone around us expecially the minors and give the assurance that we are here for them. That will help them open up easily whenever they are in tough situations.

  5. Hakeem Babatunde

    This is well thought of. Rape is a topical issue and this write-up will definitely serve as a positive encouragement to the victims.

    Keep it up. More grease to your elbow ma.

      1. Blessing Idakwo

        It sadden my heart each day I hear or read about how ladies, children are being raped. Rapists are thieves and should be treated as such. Someone suggested something which I’ve been considering…. putting a write up to guide our young girls and even boys on the dos and don’ts on rape issues .
        In this part of the country where police are supposed to be protecting lives, they are not even trained to achieve that, imagine where a woman cryed to a police that her little child has just been sexually abused, the police asked her out of their office. How can we manage that? Where do we run to?
        We are to train and guide our girls to open up for help where necessary.
        God will help us
        Blessing Idakwo

        1. Mercy Folayan

          Rapists should really be treated as thieves!
          We’re working on putting out those cards for young people.
          There’s really a lot to be done on educating and re-educating people about these matters, including the law enforcement agents and the judiciary system.
          God help us all.
          Thank you, ma’am!

  6. Patience Oluwaseto

    Well written Mercy! Let’s put about end to survivors shaming and shame the perpetrators. People tend to protect the perpetrators rather than the survivors. Thank you for this piece. I look forward to partnering with you on this rape issue.

    1. Dr. Mercy Folayan

      Yes! Yes! Yes! The survivors should be protected not the perpetrators!
      There’s a lot of work to do on this sexual abuse issue.
      I’ll be in touch.
      Thanks.

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