8 Women Share How Long It Took Them To Speak About Their Sexual Abuse

July 1, 2019
Illustration by Lauren Mitchell, @curious_lauren

On Friday the 28th of June a video of Busola Dakolo, a celebrity photographer was released across all of YNaija’s platforms.

17 years after her, she was finally sharing the story of her sexual assault and calling out her assaulter. Reactions to the video were swift. While majority of people sympathised, the usual questions that follow reports of rape and sexual assault in Nigeria started to trickle in. 

Why is she just coming out now? How do we know she’s saying the truth? What was she wearing? It didn’t help that her alleged assaulter was Biodun Fatoyinbo the head pastor at COZA. His congregation and many Nigerians see him as a man of God, anointed. As far as they were concerned he could do no wrong. 

The most recurring question, however, was ‘Why did it take her so long to speak about it’. This question is often used to try and disparage women who finally find the strength to talk about their assault.

When people ask this question, they also imply that if the victim had spoken out sooner they’d believe her. To discount this, I spoke with eight women and asked them to share with me how long after their assault if ever, it took them to talk about it. And how the people they shared their stories with reacted.

6 years

I was eighteen when it happened, my first year in Uni. The first time I told anyone was 6 years later when I was 2 years into a very serious relationship. He was very big on openness and I confided in him. We broke up a couple of months after. I think he thought it was my fault.

1 year

It took a year. There was this story trending on the internet that day some vile man had been raping his daughter for years and they finally caught him. My friends were talking about it, and I just kind of broke down. They were very supportive.

7 months

7 months. It’s funny because I never thought I’d be able to talk about it. I never planned to, I had just filed it away in my head as something that never happened. Then I attended Ake festival in 2017 and there was a session about sexual violence and all these strong women were telling their stories. I couldn’t say mine in public but I confided in my friends that day. 

14 years

14 years. When I was ten our house help used to put her fingers in me and just touch me inappropriately she stayed with us for a couple of months and my mum let her go when she found out she was stealing. But I never told anyone about it. For the longest time, I felt guilty about it, I knew it was wrong I just didn’t realise I wasn’t the one at fault until I turned 24. I told my best friend after she shared that something similar had happened to her. 

8 years

8 years. I got raped by my Uncle when I was 15. He was my mother’s younger brother and they were very close. I didn’t think she’d believe me and even if she did I thought she’d blame me. He moved in with us again when my younger sister turned 13 and I noticed he was looking at her funny. I finally told my mum, even threatened to runaway with my sister if she didn’t do something. But she believed me immediately. She wanted him thrown in jail but family intervened. She hasn’t seen him or talked to him since he left. 

1 hour

An hour. It happened in my own room in school. This guy I had been talking to came to see me. We were fooling around and I asked him to stop when it started going too far. He didn’t. He casually let himself out when he was done, didn’t say a word to me. I stayed where he left me until my roommate came back. She wanted us to report to police or school authorities but I didn’t want to put myself through that I just wanted to move past it. 

A couple of hours

A couple of hours. I had gone to see this guy and we were making out. I had told him right from the jump that I didn’t want to have sex. Next thing I know he brings out his penis and I repeat myself. And he goes ‘oh yeah I know nothing is going to happen’. Next thing he’s trying to ease himself in and I tell him to stop and he goes ‘just the tip’, I still say no and he inserts himself regardless. I just lay there like a log of wood.

When I got back to hostel I was gisting my friend like ‘see what this stupid boy did o’. When I finished she was like ‘guy he raped you’. I was arguing that it wasn’t like that, I went with it after he entered, and she kept insisting I was raped. I remember getting upset at her and asking her what secret agenda she had and why she wanted me to be a victim by force. It took me 2 years after it happened to fully understand that she was right and he had raped me. It’s not always violent. 

2 weeks

Two weeks. I was 17 at home after JAMB and WAEC waiting for Uni to start. My brother’s friend came to see him and he wasn’t home. I was home alone but I let him in, because he was a familiar face. I started acting up after it happened, I wasn’t eating, wasn’t going out. I and my brother were close and he knew something was wrong. He kept pressing until I told him what happened.

After I told him, he went and beat the guy to a pulp. I appreciated it but then he had to explain to my parents why he was going around beating people up. I can never forget when he was telling my parents why he beat the guy he narrated it like I was somehow at fault. The only thing my mother had to say was why did I open the door for a stranger and she has warned me to stop wearing short skirts and provocative clothes. 

Toketemu Ohwovoriole

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