When we were Young Part 2 – by Abidemi Adebola “Sometimes our best love moments
“Blaming her meant that she was at fault, that she must have done something for this to happen to her. And so, it could never happen to their innocent, sweet, obedient daughters.”
Mina Rehman – Author ‘Women who slay Women’
Hello, it has been a while, but we are in the final part of the series. I know each read has taken about ten minutes each, but I found it hard to just ignore such a topic as rape, and continue to witness the waste, destruction, and dysfunction that have lain in its wake.
If you want to refresh the old grey noodle, here are Part I, part II and Part III.
In this final part, we will discuss managing rape, surviving rape, and discuss the resources and agencies that champion rape victim/survivor support in Nigerian, so we all know exactly who to reach to report rape and secure rape victims/survivors’ support.
As usual, I await your comments, and I apologize ahead if I do not convey the exact emotion, pain, or reaction women may have suffered, but I am a man, and I do not pretend to feel the exact pain felt. I sympathize strongly though.
VERA UWAILA OMOZUWA
We are still awaiting further updates on the case. I wished the incident would shine a huge spotlight on all cases concerning rape, but, it looks like it has not turned out that way.
It is left to all of us to do what we can. We need to save ourselves. No one is coming to save us. Yes all of us. We all have mothers, aunties, sisters, grannies, cousins, daughters, friends, and colleagues.
According to a Unicef Survey about 25% of Nigerian girls say they have experienced sexual violence before their 18th birthday!
Can you imagine that? One in every four girls! That affects all of us.
I have to say I don’t know if this is possible. How does one know the darkness in the heart of man? It is never on their faces. Not when family members, friends, and acquaintances account for the largest percentage of rapists. But, I guess one can try. No one deserves to be a victim.
Also, an apology is needed. Asking women to prevent rape is like an insult. Why would women be responsible for the evil within a man? Would I have good eyes and now seek to put them out because some monster may gouge them just because it can?
But when desperate, what can one do?
I apologize unreservedly.
I read that women can help prevent rape by taking these steps:
Listen to your intuition when alone – Although you can never fully protect yourself from potential rape, you must avoid dangerous situations. Stay aware of your surroundings, avoid isolated public areas, walk with determination even if you’re lost, trust your gut, keep your cell phone charged and with you, avoid going somewhere alone with a person you do not know well, do not use music headphones when walking alone.
Reduce risk in social situations – Go to parties and social events with a group of friends and stay with the group. Do not leave your drink unattended. This leaves a potential rapist an opportunity to slip a date rape drug in it. Take it with you to go to the ladies’ room or anywhere else, even for a short time. If you do leave it, just get a new drink. Do not accept drinks from a stranger or someone you just met.
Be clear about your sexual limits when you go out on a date with someone.
Do not collect gifts or money from anyone you know can demand sex in return.
Be assertive when you say NO verbally and nonverbally to avoid confusion.
Report to your parent or a trusted adult if anybody touches you in a manner that makes you uncomfortable.
WHAT TO DO WHEN BEING RAPED
Despite the best efforts to prevent rape, I read that you still need to know what to do when being raped. You could find yourself in a situation where you feel pressured into sexual activities that you don’t want by a friend or acquaintance. Alternatively, a stranger could break into your home or grab you on the street. You need to know what to do to try to get out of these situations — just in case. Please find the suggestions below:
State clearly and unequivocally that you do not want to engage in sex of any kind with the person. Remember you do not have any obligation to participate in any activity that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Arrange a special code word with a close friend or family member that you can say if talking on the phone to them to indicate that you are in a dangerous situation and need help.
Make up an excuse as to why you need to leave or that you are having your period or even that you have a sexually transmitted disease.
Look for an escape route or way to get out of the room.
Call attention to yourself by screaming or making a scene and yell for help.
If someone attacks you, scratch him with your fingernails and pull his hair, bite, and kick – do anything to make him let go even for a second and then run. When you get away, go directly to the police or authority. Do not wash your hands or do anything to destroy any physical evidence you may have on your body.
As a last resort, try to humanize yourself in the eyes of your attacker. Try to make the attacker see you as a person rather than objectify you. Talk about your family, your kids, your mother. Tell him he is better than the way he is behaving.
If your attacker is armed with a gun or knife, the above tactics may not work effectively. Any act of aggression may cause him to become more violent and angry. However, as a last resort, a violent attack may represent your only hope of escaping rape. If you choose to physically attack an armed aggressor, your action must be unexpected, sudden, and intensely painful. Target his most vulnerable spots, such as testicles, eye sockets, instep, or windpipe with a lethal intention.
Perhaps the two most important rape prevention tips you can remember are: trust your intuition and gut feelings and remain fully aware of your surroundings when alone and in social settings with friends, at all times.
I am not sure if all this helps, but we must never just fold our arms.
That the women who have been purposefully brutalized can remain so kind, open, and warm, is amazing. That their main ambition is to help others in the same situation by sharing their experiences, even though reliving them can be painful, is special. That, after years of keeping quiet, they are just so grateful to be heard, and still relate to other men is beyond human.
Never forget, the more you talk, the better you feel. We were created social, to interact, please find someone you can trust, and talk about anything or everything. Someone else can relate. Please reach out to professionals too. Talking to someone who cannot relate, place themselves in your shoes or show care and compassion can be damaging.
It’s important to remember that what you’re experiencing is a normal reaction to trauma. Your feelings of helplessness, shame, defectiveness, and self-blame are symptoms, not reality.
ENSURING YOUR SAFETY AFTER RAPE
The most important thing to do after rape is to ensure your safety and get medical attention. The first obvious step is to find a safe environment away from the attacker. This could be your home, car, or hospital. Wherever you choose to go, consider calling a friend to come with you to offer moral support. What has just happened to you is not your fault and you do not need to go through it alone.
Do not brush your teeth, bathe, or change clothes until medical professionals have had a chance to properly collect evidence.
MEDICAL ATTENTION AFTER RAPE
Once you are safe, ensure you get medical attention – whether you feel you have been hurt or not. Call the Domestic Sexual and Violence Response Team (DSVRT) if you are in Lagos, call NAPTIP if you are in Abuja, call rape support NGOs. Medical attention will ensure that you are physically okay and can assess the risk for things like sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy. Even if you never intend to report the rape, it’s critical to get medical help for your safety.
Tell the hospital that you have been raped. I do not know if our hospitals and laboratories use the Rape Kit yet. A Rape Kit is a package of items used by medical personnel for gathering and preserving physical evidence following an allegation of rape.
Once your safety is assured and you receive medical attention, writing down the details of the rape is important. It’s critical to get as much information down as possible while the memory is fresh.
Write down everything that happened.
Write down everything you remember about the attacker.
While this can seem like the last thing you want to do, this can be crucial evidence in prosecuting your rapist; and bringing your attacker to justice may be one of the key steps in your rape recovery efforts. If you aren’t sure what to do, it’s still best to report now and decide later. Most rape crisis centers have professionals who can help you through the rape reporting process.
It is never too late to report a rape. Ideally, a report will be made right after it happens and while medical attention is being given, but days or even months later a rape can still legally be reported and prosecuted.
Attempted rape is still a crime and should be reported.
You do not need to be physically injured for it to be rape – most rapes don’t result in physical injuries. It is still rape even if you know the attacker.
Rape is not your fault. No matter the circumstance, you did nothing wrong.
TIPS FOR TALKING TO SURVIVORS OF RAPE
It is not always easy to know what to say when someone tells you they’ve been raped, especially if they are a friend or family member. For a survivor, disclosing to someone they care about can be very difficult, so we encourage you to be as supportive and non-judgmental as possible. Most importantly, believe, and empathize. Show care, listen. Let them know it’s not their fault.
Never forget, rape is the rapist’s fault.
Sometimes support means providing resources, such as how to reach the Domestic Sexual and Violence Response Team (DSVRT), NAPTIP or NGOs dedicated to rape, seek medical attention, or report the crime to the police. But often listening is the best way to support a survivor.
There is no timetable when it comes to recovering from rape. If someone trusted you enough to disclose the event to you, consider the following ways to show your continued support.
Avoid judgment. It can be difficult to watch a survivor struggle with the rape for an extended period. Avoid phrases that suggest they’re taking too long to recover such as, “You have been acting like this for a while now” or “How much longer will you feel this way?”
Check-in periodically. The event may have happened a long time ago, but that does not mean the pain is gone. Check-in with the survivor to remind them you still care about their well-being and believe their story.
Know your resources. You’re a strong supporter, but that doesn’t mean you’re equipped to manage someone else’s health.
RECOVERING FROM RAPE AND SEXUAL TRAUMA
For victims/survivors and those who seek to help with recovery for victims/survivors
RAPE SURVIVOR SUPPORT – GOVERNMENT AGENCIES and NGOs PIONEERING THE FIGHT IN NIGERIA
I may not be conversant with all government parastatals and NGOs championing the rape cause in Nigeria, but, apart from Lagos State’s Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT) and NAPTIP in Abuja, I am proud to say, there are Organizations already providing post-rape medical support and care, reporting rape to the Police, providing legal support, providing dedicated medical facilities that provide forensic medical examinations and operations, providing educational programs on rape, reaching out to our communities and that are pushing for legislative reforms.
These wonderful champions are listed below, in no particular order, though appearing alphabetical;
NON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS
RAPE SUPPORT – THE CHALLENGES
The government is doing a lot to put a stop to rape, especially with Dame Pauline Tallen at the helm, but with a population as mighty as ours, educating our children the right way and not aiding rapists must go hand in hand with the government’s efforts.
The NGOs are doing so much, especially with accepting victims, giving them an ear, examining and running tests, reporting cases, and seeking justice for victims/survivors.
Unfortunately, the NGOs are limited by factors like Nigeria’s criminal justice system, the prevalence of rape culture, and bias in terms of the way society holds women to a higher standard of morality.
The professionals like the police, doctors, nurses, and lab attendants, who are supposed to prepare evidence, cannot even do that without bias!
For NGOs, funding is a huge limitation.
I look forward to the day the government agencies and the NGOs work together. I look forward to them working together with the ministry of education too, for the sake of our future.
STOP RAPE – HELP THE NGOs HELP OUR SOCIETY
The government, the NGOs, and the populace have to work together. We must help the DSVRT, NAPTIP, and law enforcement help us. Let us all amplify the voices and reach of these government agencies and the NGOs. Let us put them all on our social media platforms.
We cannot trend for a period to stop rape; we have to stay on it. We stay the cause till change arrives. Click the links to the government agencies and the NGOs’ websites, know about them, and share with others.
More importantly, in the case of the NGOs, donate to them, no matter how little. What they do cost them a lot of funds, most of it personal. God bless their big hearts. Let us stamp out rape. Women’s and girls’ lives matter. Our society matters. Rape affects all of us.
About the Writer
Deji Sowunmi a proud owner of glistening, glowing, beautiful dark caramel skin, sometimes a good husband, not so shabby a dad.
An architect, interior designer & decorator by day, and a lover and seeker of greatness for all mankind by night.
He is a long-suffering, unapologetic arsenal fan who uses his club’s antics for high BP resistance training, a lover of the arts, and a general student of life.
Deji Sowunmi may not take himself so seriously but takes rape extremely seriously.
Please post your comments, Deji would love to read from you.
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