The subject of this week’s What She Said is a 27-year-old queer woman who talks about being abused as a child, navigating her sexuality, and getting an abortion at the age of 20.
What is the earliest memory of your childhood?
The earliest thing I remember is being molested by my brother’s lesson teacher at age 3 or 4. I was always there during my brother’s lessons, so on this day, he asked my brother to go buy biscuits. After my brother left, he put me on the table and tried to finger me.
I am so sorry.
Oh, it’s fine. My parents found out because my brother saw and the teacher got arrested. I mean, I had a bunch of other not so good experiences. I was molested multiple times by neighbours and lesson teachers, trade people that came to work in the house and even a family friend.
Shit. Were there any good experiences?
Well, when I was 9, my 12-year-old female family friend started messing around with me. I felt comfortable and I liked it. In secondary school, I knew I was attracted to some of my schoolmates. I’d even say my first relationship was with my best friend then. Back then, I didn’t know I loved her but when I think about it now, I totally did.
At some point, I stopped sharing my bed with friends or hugging cause I felt many types of ways and I didn’t want to act on it. I went to an all-girls Catholic school, so they preached hellfire and brimstone for lesbians.
I’m sorry, that must have been tough. Did you ever figure it out?
In 2011 when I left for university, I started watching loads of YouTube videos about gays and lesbians and started taking those “how to know if you’re a lesbian” quizzes. I figured out I was queer in 2014 but I still identified as bisexual even though I knew deep down I wasn’t attracted to men.
I was religious around that time so I started dating and sleeping with men a lot cause I thought that would cure me. That’s when I got pregnant.
I was 20 and the guy was a family friend. He knew about my sexuality and was someone I was relatively comfortable with. He also had a massive crush on me, but I only saw him as a friend.
I moved back to Nigeria from the UK in 2014 for NYSC. He was in the house and lived with my parents. In 2015, I was still figuring out my sexuality and he knew this. He would come and beg me to have sex with him. I would sometimes oblige. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but I didn’t hate it either.
This particular time, it was on a Saturday night. He came to my room and begged again. I remember being completely still while he did his thing and then he came. He didn’t use a condom and I didn’t realise until I felt liquid in and on me. I let him know I was upset, cleaned myself and went to bed.
The next morning, I got the morning after pill and took both pills as prescribed. A couple of weeks later, I felt ill.
Shit. Omo even with the pill?
Yes, even with the pill. I am one of those people whose periods come at the exact day the app says it would.
My period was late so I knew something was wrong. I got my aunt to get me two pregnancy tests. I took one in the night and that was negative. I still wasn’t relieved because I knew something was wrong. Immediately I woke up, I took the second one immediately and it came out positive.
I reached out to a friend who I assumed might have had a similar experience and she gave me the names of the drugs to buy for an abortion.
I’d always said I would never keep a child I didn’t want. I was also about to leave for my master’s the next year and I genuinely did not like the father as anything more than a friend. The fact that he was borderline obsessed with me meant if I kept it, he would do everything he could to be directly in my life. I knew I couldn’t let that happen.
Well within your right. So, how did you go about it?
This is where my privilege comes into play. I’d just gotten back from the UK, so I had a UK account with money in it. I googled and found an organization that delivered abortion pills around the world. They would ship the pills free but typically wanted some sort of donation so others who couldn’t afford to could get it. I paid €60 and then the wait started.
The pills were due here in about two weeks and I was so nervous. In the meantime, my best friend and her sister who was dating a doctor helped get a prescription for the exact pills from him. We went to almost every pharmacy in the Lekki/Ajah axis and we could only find one of the pills. I think the first pill was to stop the hormones that helped pregnancy grow in the body and the second was to eject/remove the fetus from the body. We could only find the ejecting pill and not the stopping pill. I became so depressed, I contemplated suicide for the first time in my life.
I really could not imagine having a child at that age and worse still, with that man. Thankfully, the drug came in less than two weeks so I took them as prescribed. The website also has a doctor who checks in on you.
How did you feel?
I had the worst cramps I’d ever had in my life. I couldn’t even show the pain because no one else in my house knew what was happening except the guy, and I wasn’t talking to him. Two days after, I went to pee and felt the clot of blood slip through and I knew it was done. A week after that, I went to the hospital where I had my test done and they said somehow I wasn’t pregnant anymore. My womb was empty and for the first time in such a long time, I could finally breathe.
Not everybody who has an abortion was raped or did not take the right precautions. Sometimes you just don’t want to be a parent so you do the right thing and let it go.
Did you tell anyone in your family about it eventually?
The only person who knew in my family was my aunt, the one who bought me the pregnancy tests. She was also the first family member I came out to. I recently told my older brother about it two years ago. He didn’t really care, was just happy I was fine.
I don’t plan on ever telling my parents, but if they found out, they’d be disappointed. Eventually, though, they’d be fine.
Would you ever want children though?
I mean, I probably want a child or two. I had the abortion because I simply did not want to be responsible for anyone. I also didn’t want to rely on anyone and having a child would mean I’d have to lean on either family or friends.
And about your sexuality?
Well, it took a while because I didn’t want to be very conclusive while I wasn’t too sure. Most of my friends now say they wondered why I came out as bisexual cause they apparently all knew I was a lesbian. Now, I use queer because there is one guy I know I genuinely liked. I’m not attracted to him in any way but I just feel like saying I’m a lesbian is diminishing whatever we had then.