I will not start with the usual i normally don’t do this speech, because let’s face it, i always do this, and in a nation where politics has taken center stage, a story of this caliber is a breath of fresh air.
By the time I woke up, it was already late in the morning, and to my surprise I wasn’t tied or thrown into a hole like I had thought, I was just alone in the tent, I touched the side of my head, it didn’t hurt as much, but I still felt the pain, probably from the memory of the blow, I still lay down and stared at the tent ceiling, it was rather hot inside, Continue reading
As I lay there deliberating my friend Omoefa’s coarse and loud voice rang out as she shouted my name from outside startled me out of short lived reverie. I got up from the bed still in my pant and bra holding my head which had subsided a bit, just by sheer will and effort managed to put on a pair of Jeans and tee shirt. I slipped on a pair of slippers and stepped into the slightly darkened corridor crisscrossed with other rooms adjoined leading out to the compound.
I beheld one of the older girls who also worked in our compound Cindy and friends dancing near the window but ignored them only extending a brief greeting to Deborah one of the girls as I moved on, I heard from Omoefa’s roommate Cindy was from a good home, had even been sent to school a real secondary school but had run off with an older boyfriend her father’s pension safely tucked in her bag. The boyfriend swindled her and traveled out to Spain, leaving her with just a letter I suppose as memento or reminder I don’t know. Some have feet and shoes to wear on them, some have shoes but no feet, others possess neither shoes nor feet I wish, i wonder….
I met Omoefa sitting in a corner with the girls smoking ‘Igbo’ weed as they all shuffled to the music emanating from the stereo. I went towards them and as soon as they sighted me, they all shouted as if on cue hailing AREA HOW FAR NAH? Happy Birthday!!!
Tinuke Omoefa’s room mate passed me a cup of “Tombo liquor “as I joined them on the bench Omoefa passed me the smouldering wrap of ‘Igbo’ she was smoking. I held it between my thumb and foreﬁnger the embers cackling, sparks emitting from the tiny embers of the seed as i tapped the excess ash off. I put the cup to my lips and swallowed a mouthful of the local gin, my eyes watered slightly as the ethanol hit me full in the chest, oblivious to my pain charting a burning path down my throat traversing relentlessly down, a ﬁery passageway to the pit of my stomach. I took a long drag of the ‘Igbo’ weed inhaling holding in the smoke as long as I could thankfully, it was not the highly intoxicating kanaku hybrid.
The smoke circulated slowly coursing through internal oriﬁce, oh so soothing…swirling as in creating an artiﬁcial smokes screen, cloud-induced interface alongside sudden No stark reality of the life i existed in. It was all I could do not to lean back in relief my headache slowly receding as though dancing backwards, evaporating into nothingness…air, just like the smoke emanating from my slightly parted lips and nostrils drifting up into oblivion. I watched it all swirling upwards towards a stack heap of forgone memories where earlier introspection, niggling conscience end up never to harm or hold my thought process in a choke hold leaving me free to indulge in my vices, my excesses with no recourse to conscientious thoughts.
The ﬁrst time omoefa and I met she had accosted me hiding behind the sand dune crying profusely on a Friday night. I was tucked away in a darkened corner hence did not notice my presence until she nearly stepped on me. Omoefa shouted out in fright jumping back “Blood of Jesus” seeing me clearly her initial fright swiftly morphed into anger. She rounded up in anger asking who I was and my purpose for lurking in the darkness, all the while getting ready to smash her upturned ﬁst in my face. Tears still running down my face intermittently casting furtive glances towards the main gate i had escaped from, she must have realized the extent of my disconcert especially at the sight of my torn clothes as I held tightly to cover my half exposed breasts. Her anger turned to concern, as she asked me what had occurred abandoning all her initial resolve and hostility.
When I arrived Paradise Island I was still naïve hence was oblivious to what the girls actually did until much later. I only started to enjoy myself after I met Obiri, a girl who lived in a shack next to our compound. She was my age although looked and acted older, that girl was a real tomboy a ﬁre cracker. I often wondered how she came to be living on their own in the ghetto later after becoming ﬁrm friends, she conﬁded in me that she ran away from home hiding under a lorry ferrying plantains to Lagos.
She was labelled a witch by a man they called ‘Prophet Zephaniah’ in her village, Prophet’s minions tortured then forced her to drink a concoction made out of water droplets drained from a dead body, declaring the spirit of the dead will compel her into a confession of her deeds even against her will. It seemed one of the strongest demons dwelt in her dark heart as she failed to confess, repeatedly maintaining her innocence. This provoked Prophet’s holy anger as he instructed assistants to hold her down, mouth forced open using his holy staff and concoction poured down her throat. Ensuing stomach cramps triumphant validation for prophet Zephaniah.
She had been accused initially by her father of deploying the powers of witchcraft that strong demonic spirit to drain his destiny causing an inability to feed her 8 siblings, he was a subsistent farmer. Her ropes had been untied in the dead of the night by her mother, who urged her to run away or be killed. Rescuing her mother and siblings from her father’s clutches and giving them a better life has been her motivation for hustling. I will make it in Paradise Island one day you watch and see if I don’t she often said with strong conviction and seriousness.
Aunty had sent me to buy some Panadol at baba Oyibo’s chemist not very far from our compound. On my way back, one of the boys who hang around our street accosted me snatching Auntie’s change off my hand. I cried out begging him to give me back the money but he laughed taunting me until Obiri walked towards us and faced him. Looking on steadily no expression on her face bellying her true intentions she asked him to return my money, but he didn’t pay her any heed neither did I to be fair. Request repeated again this time ﬁrmly resolute as calm as you please, or he would get a beating. He ﬁnally paid attention to the irritant quickly surveying her small frame incredulously, unbelieving of the sheer impudence from this tiny runt as he laughed gleefully. Truly Obiri like me was shorter than the boy, by this time his friends had sauntered closer cheering urging him on.
All of a sudden she lunged forward grabbing his neck like a man and raining punches, open mouthed map of disbelief displayed all over my face at the sight “See this small ‘Pelenge’ girl ﬁghting a boy. The ﬁght seemed reminiscent of David and Goliath bored children had begun watching and clapping as the impromptu ﬁght progressed. She landed a quick succession of punches then another slap Ha it’s a miracle!! I stopped counting after nine punches with interjecting slaps, a cut on his thick black lips blood spurted trailing down his jaw line. He was riled seriously angry now, yellow rimmed eyeballs bulging in naked resentment as he wiped excess blood with the hem of his oversize 2pac long sleeve tee shirt, he began pulling up his sleeves. It has gotten much personal no more a random past time but saving face that male ego has to be redeemed forthwith. He deliberately rushed towards Obiri swinging wildly right hand busy, as he made to grab her with his left hand we all gasped in fright but she darted back evading his latest swing, then moved in crouching like Malaika the great wrestler in our village. She grabbed his legs in a seemingly coordinated motion and shoved him backwards. He landed hard on his buttocks the audible grunt of pain sounding like a pig’s grunt. The tides had swiftly turned at this stage everyone turning the boos earlier directed towards the small girl into cheers the now vanquished ﬁghter lying on the ground, smarting from defeat. I watched her beat him back to the ground, even after he unsuccessfully tried to get back up until an old woman drove the crowd away with a long broom. Caught up in the excitement I had forgotten about my dilemma until I felt my cloth tugged from the back i turned around to see her still looking disheveled from the ﬁght and sporting a small bump on her right cheekbone, without a word she shoved the crumpled change in my palm abruptly walking away.
To Be Continued……………………………
Written By Bunmi olaniyan
Read Part 1 HERE
It took me twenty four years to get here, and a lot of guts, but I think it’s time I got it off my chest.
I won’t pretend I grew up in a perfect home, and suddenly things went bad, for as long as I can remember, it was always the same, I grew up thinking all Fathers yelled, and all mothers cried.
Father was never happy, he always yelled, everything was always done wrong, and even when he did it wrong, he always found a way of blaming mother.
I saw him punch her, shove her, swear at her, but I never saw him hold her, hug her, kiss her, or even say anything nice to her.
It’s not a long story, just a brief sad story, of an eleven year old boy, a story that changed his life forever.
I just got back from school, I was in the kitchen eating, and as usual, mother would set my meal with the usual cupcake on the side, chocolate flavored, so I could eat immediately I got back from school, she never missed it, I still remember the smell of cake batter, she baked so much, the aroma was almost permanent, and even up until now as an adult, I always remember her, when I smell cake batter, among other things.
It was quite, unusually quiet, I didn’t think much of it, because I knew it was just a matter of time before father would get back, and he would find something to yell about.
He got back earlier than usual, I was just about biting into my cupcake, when he walked in, I remember losing my appetite, he walked passed me like I was not there, not that I cared, I was accustomed to it, he yelled out for mum, but he didn’t get any response, I knew she was asleep, she was pregnant, and it was hard for her to keep up with her daily routine, I didn’t bother checking up on her, because I knew she was a light sleeper, and I didn’t want to wake her up.
He yelled out again, and still yet no reply, I remained in the kitchen, and waited for it, I heard him walk up the stairs, I could tell he was mad, what else was new, suddenly I heard him yelling at her, I couldn’t quite make out the words, but I knew there were angry words, I left the kitchen, and made my way to the foot of the stairs, I stretched my neck, trying to hear what was being said, dad was yelling, and mum was trying to pacify him, suddenly he appeared at the top of the stairs, and stared right down at me, I felt a chill, this was not normal, “what are you looking at you stupid boy”, he said, don’t you have anything better to do than stuff your face with cakes? Your mother has made a girl out of you, am pretty sure you are the first boy who will have his period; those were things father said to me.
I let his words wash over me, but I didn’t move, I was accustomed to it, I think deep down he just needed to rave and rant all the time to give himself a sense of self-worth, mother emerged from the bedroom, and simply told him to leave me alone, and that was when it happened, he turned around and punched her in the face, he didn’t care if she was pregnant or not, she spun around, and used her elbows to shield her tummy from hitting the wall, he grabbed her by the hair and pulled her back, haven’t you done enough to ruin him, father said, why doesn’t he act like normal boys, and you dare tell me to leave him alone, he spoke about me like I wasn’t even there.
Mother tried to pacify him, he started shoving her, I saw her walking back, towards the head of the stairs, I tried to warn her she was too close to the edge, but his constant yelling drowned my words, she missed her step, I saw her fall, it was like an eternity, but while she fell, she tried to shield her stomach, I saw her fall, I heard bones crack, I saw her falling, and I was rooted to the spot, until she hit me, and we both landed on the floor, I hit my head, and when I opened my eyes, I saw her, lying down, she was staring at me, but was looking through me, suddenly I felt something sticky on my cheek, it was red, it was warm, it was her blood, and then I realized, she was dead, he pushed her, I passed out.
I didn’t see him anymore after that, I went to live with my uncle, years later he told me, my father left, started afresh, was arrested, but never convicted, ruled as a domestic accident, people fall down stairs all the time.
I still don’t understand why he was such a bitter person, mother didn’t deserve what he did to her, I haven’t spoken to him or seen he since that day, personally I see no point
I have moved on, am happy, have a family now, they give me joy, decided to share this, I don’t know how it will help, but am pretty sure it will.
Written By Arome Ameh (The Priest)
Being the human beings we are, there is always the tendency to lay blame and take sides, but sometimes, based on visual observations, emotions begin to overwhelm us, and we are forced to make decisions and lay blames that ordinarily we would not do.
Sadly, we have all been guilty, and will continue being guilty from time to time, based on emotion and other factors, sometimes we feel there are things that should not be allowed to happen, we would say “if i were the one, i would handle it in such and such manner”, but sadly it’s sounds easier in theory than in real life.
No one consciously chooses to enter into an abusive relationship, sometimes the society does not help potential victims make informed decisions as to how they perceive themselves, and in other cases, the signs are not just there.
The most important thing is no matter how bad it seems on the outside, the victim will always be what he/she is, and that is a “VICTIM”
It would be unfair to blame a victim, no matter what the situation might be or appear to be, we owe it to the victims to support and provide suitable platforms for their survival.
We must come together and show victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse, all the love and support they never received from their abuse partners and other areas in the society.
This writer has made some judgmental errors and mistakes based on emotional conclusions, it happens, but the most important thing is to ensure that we know who needs help.
By Arome Ameh (The Priest)
Subtle sexual abuse within abusive relationships are the less obvious forms of sexual abuse. While violent rape is obviously abusive, there are many other forms which are less so, but can be equally destructive over time. The early warning signs that sexual abuse might take place in our relationship are excessive jealousy and a derogatory attitude towards women generally. I have called these forms of abuse subtle sexual abuse because we frequently do not recognise them as being abusive, i.e. part of a pattern of behaviours designed to control and dominate us.
One of the problems we face as women is that society, tradition and the media frequently reinforce the idea that our value lies in our sexual attraction, e.g. having a fit, young, sexy body, dressing to show our curves, etc. Throughout most of history we have been valued only for our ability to reproduce, and provide services for men, be these catering for his physical or sexual needs and wants.
At the same time, cultural ideals have encouraged the idea that there are only two types of women: the Madonna or the whore. The Madonna type is all that is pure, good and virginal (though often depicted with child!), while the whore is a woman with an insatiable sexual desire, an evil woman who uses her sexual whiles to lure men to their destruction.
The sexual abuser sees women as being put on Earth to provide him with sex and therefore does not take any of our feelings, wants or wishes into account, least of all our right to refuse whatever sexual act he demands of us.
If we enjoy sexual intercourse, we are called a whore or a slut.
If we don’t enjoy it, we are called frigid or a lesbian, or accused of cheating.
When we participate in sexual acts for our abuser which we find disgusting (through coercion, threat or even just trying to keep the peace) then we risk being further verbally or physically abused for having complied.
Within an abusive relationship, subtle sexual abuse is used as a form of control, domination and degradation. Below are some of the indicators that sexual abuse may be an issue together with some examples of subtle sexual abuse.
One of the warning signs of an abusive personality is excessive jealousy, usually initially used as proof of their love for us. They will be unhappy about our spending time or speaking with other males. This is because they see us as bodies which they want to conquer, own and dominate and assume other men think the same way. They will accuse us of cheating, of fancying another man, of flirting, of trying to show off our bodies to make other men desire us.
Sometimes these accusations are used as justification for physical beatings and sexual abuse, as both Hannah and Belinda found out to their detriment.
Some sexual abusers want us to cover up in public; others want us to wear provocative or ‘sexy’ clothing so they can show off their sexual conquests to other men. They will ask us all about our previous sexual partners and encounters, and then call us a slut or throw our sexual indiscretions back at us as proof of our being sluts.
Being Sexually Derogative
The sexual abuser is frequently derogative of us and other women. He will call us names, like slut, bitch or whore to our face. Being called derogatory names is something we hear so often that we almost don’t notice it anymore, and yet it betrays the basic attitude that we are not individuals, we are just whatever tag he decides to give us – and it is usually not very complimentary! But another warning sign to look out for is how they describe us to other people: even though terms such as ‘bird’ or ‘bit of skirt’ might not initially seem too bad, they also denote a lack of respect for the individual.
He will tell or laugh at jokes which portray women as stupid or as ‘lesser’ than men. He will make nasty comments about our appearance in front of other people and then, when we are upset about it, tell us it was just a joke and we take things too seriously. These sorts of things leave us feeling humiliated and upset, but our abuser will make out that we are the ones who are far too sensitive.
When he sees women or girls out on the street, he will comment about their breasts or behind. He might give them a score out of 10 or say that he wouldn’t mind a ‘bit of that’. He will do the same with our female friends and family members. This leaves us feeling degraded and in constant competition with other women. It is likely to affect our friendships and further our isolation.
The sexual abuser does not see women as individuals, with feelings and opinions; he just sees them as pieces of meat. That will be apparent in the way that he talks about us and women in general. Early on in the relationship we are likely to hear how different we are from all the other women he has met or been with, his ex-partner, or even his mother. He will describe these women as controlling and manipulative. It will not be long before he is throwing the same accusations at us. This is because the abuser sees any woman who disagrees with him or does not do as he wishes as trying to control him!
Refusing to take Responsibility for Birth Control
The sexual abuser does not believe that birth control is his responsibility, so he will not share an equal responsibility for ensuring we don’t get pregnant. He will frequently refuse to wear condoms, or take it off during intercourse, because he says that it is not enjoyable enough for him or it is aggravating him. Or he might purposely thwart our efforts to avoid pregnancy by hiding our pills or refusing to use a condom if we know the pill is not likely to be effective (for instance after our having a stomach bug or during the first month of taking it).
Not allowing us control over our decision to reproduce is also a form of subtle sexual abuse. And as many of us have found, even though he wants us to ‘have his baby’, he will not help us care for it.
If we do get pregnant, he will accuse us of purposely getting pregnant to ‘trap him’, he might threaten to or actually leave us, threaten to or actually have an affair, accuse us of being fat and unattractive and refuse intimacy with us as a result. He might demand or force us to have an abortion. Statistically the chances of physical violence either starting or increasing during pregnancy are high. Many of us have lost our unborn babies due to being pushed down stairs or being physically assaulted while expecting our child.
While we are pregnant he will call us fat and ugly. He will either force us to have sex or refuse all sexual and intimate acts because he says he finds us disgusting.
Intimate Photos and Films
During the relationship our abuser will take intimate photos of us. This might be by mutual consent at the time or it might be coerced. Lots of couples do this without there being any form of sexual abuse involved.
But the sexual controller is likely to use these photos to embarrass us, either by posting them online, showing them to his mates or using the threat of making them public after we have split up. He will ask us for intimate photos by text (sexting) and then pass these on or show them to other people. We are left feeling humiliated, degraded and betrayed.
He will also film us having intercourse or performing sexual acts without our knowledge or consent or under coercion.
Withholding Sex and Affection
The sexual controller does not just demand or force sexual acts, but is just as likely to withhold sexual intercourse or intimacy. It might be conditional on our behaviour or on our participating in certain sexual acts with which we do not feel comfortable. He will also withhold affection in the form of just cuddling or kissing unless it leads to sex. It is either sexual intercourse or nothing. Or he will tell us we are a tease for wanting affection without it automatically leading to intercourse, leaving us feeling guilty. Refusing intimacy is a form of subtle sexual abuse because it is a way controlling sex – it is the flip side of demanding sex.
They will refuse our sexual advances. He has to be in control of sex, when, where and what takes place. He will also call us a whore for being sexual creature and wanting that sexual intimacy. He is also telling us that our sexual needs, desires and preferences are of no value.
Withholding affection, intimacy and intercourse from us not only attacks our feelings of self worth, but also leave us open to more coerced sexual acts. In our need and desire for intimacy we are more likely to agree to sexual acts we would under normal circumstances have refused.
Controlling Sexual Intercourse
The sexual abuser is the persona who is called the sexual controller, and that really describes very well the use of subtle sexual abuse within the context of domestic violence.
Any sexual or intimate act can only be on his terms, and we frequently don’t recognise this subtle sexual abuse as being abusive. But as with withholding sex and affection and coercing or forcing sex after an assault or argument, we soon learn that any intimacy or sexual intercourse will have to be on his terms. He will control when we have sex, and will often demand it when it is completely unsuitable, for instance while we are cooking dinner or looking after the children.
He will go straight for the act without any foreplay which can make sex painful and unpleasant for us. He does not care whether we are ‘in the mood’ or not. If he wants anal sex we have to comply or be faced with ‘moods’, coercion, threats, refusal of any intimacy or rape. He will also control how we respond to his advances, so if he wants us to climax we have to climax, if he doesn’t want us to, we must not.
Controlling our Body for his Sexual Gratification
In an abusive relationship, our body does not belong to us; it belongs to our partner, our abuser. Even if we start off the relationship feeling confident about our body (and not many of us do!), by the time we have been exposed to the comments and criticism of our abuser, we feel as though our body is somehow not ‘good enough’. We want to have the best body for his sake, because it is important to him, and therefore it is important to us, because we want him to like us, to find us attractive, to desire us.
There are countless examples of how the sexual abuser tries to influence us to change our appearance to suit his image of what we should look like. He does not want us to breast feed our baby so that our breasts do not get spoiled for him, so we don’t. He tells us we are too fat or too thin, he tells us what to wear. He keeps comparing our breasts with those of Jordan or someone he has seen in a magazine, until we agree to a breast augmentation. He tells us our vagina is too loose and doesn’t give him the pleasure he wants, so we allow him to bugger us instead.
This form of subtle sexual abuse leaves us feeling ashamed of our body, going on constant diets, develop eating disorders or having cosmetic surgery to try to live up to his ideal of what our bodies should be. We forget that our body belongs to us.
Some people are unfaithful to their partners, it happens. But the abuser will purposely be unfaithful as a form of subtle sexual abuse and control. He will threaten us that he will be unfaithful if we do not comply with his sexual wishes, or if we are pregnant or gain weight. He will go off with other women and then introduce them to us. He will be openly unfaithful and get angry or violent with us if we question him about it or tell him we are unhappy about it. He will tell us how much he fancies our best friend which damages our friendship with her, or he will sleep with our sister and then tell us about it or let us find out.
But our partner can also be unfaithful to us on a more emotional level. He can choose to spend his time with other women rather than ourselves and our children. Or he will discuss our sex life with his mates and brag about what he does to us. Our sexual privacy has been invaded and we end up feeling humiliated, ashamed and betrayed.
If we have been unfaithful to him he will not let us forget it but constantly throw it back in our face, but if he is unfaithful we are meant to just accept it and never mention it. If we are unfaithful he will use it to justify further abuse on us, because we are sluts and whores.
Other Forms of Subtle Sexual Abuse
Other forms of subtle sexual abuse include fondling us in public places or in front of our family and friends when we feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about this, or any other form of repeated touching which we have told him makes us feel uncomfortable or we don’t like.
The abuser will sometimes demand that we walk around the house naked or demand that we strip. He might force us or coerce us into watching pornographic films which we would prefer not to. Another form of subtle sexual abuse is using coercion to ensure we comply with the abusers sexual requests. This is discussed more fully in the following page on sexual abuse.
Quite a number of women have found that subtle sexual abuse can progress into more overt and violent forms of sexual abuse. In much the same way as if the abuser finds that verbal or emotional abuse is no longer sufficient to ensure our compliance, when subtle sexual abuse fails to sufficiently control us, he might well progress to rape or forced sexual acts.