Warrior Woman: Maureen Alikor, on rising above rape and abuse.

I was young when my parents separated.

After the separation, I was sent to go live with my grandparents. This was when I had my first experience of  sexual abuse and molestation by an uncle. I was about ten. It went on, till I finally got the courage and reported to my family; and since it was incest, they said we both needed traditional cleansing.

I refused to go. I did not want to subject myself to anything fetish, so I said no. They said if I didn’t, it would be taken that I seduced him. Note that I was only ten. Wanting to clear my name, I succumbed.

At the village, the oldest man in our compound poured libation on the ground. He chanted some incantations and killed a cock. He let the blood go into a hole he dug. Then he waved the dead cock around my head  five times, and around my uncle’s head. Few minutes later, we were done with the procedure and no one mentioned the matter again.

This whole incident affected my life, so much so that all through my secondary education, I battled low self-esteem and often saw myself as damaged goods, since I was deflowered by the first encounter. It affected my relationship with the opposite sex and even with peers of same gender. I began to suspect every ‘hello’ from the opposite sex and was always so paranoid.

I developed the love for books, and they became my escape. I read almost everything that came my way; and also developed a keen interest in writing in a bid to pour out my heart since sharing my thought with others was not an option.

Slowly, I pushed the incident to the back of my mind, I had a lot of life and family issues to deal with and I was keen on making myself useful. I read books on healing, newspaper columns for people with issues and in need of help. I read testimonies of Oprah Winfrey, Joyce Meyer and a couple of other women whose lives have been a blessing to many. I read books on self-love and grew to love me in spite of what had happened. I listened to radio shows too, and found them helpful. Eventually, I developed the courage to share my experience with a dear friend and he encouraged me, and told me I was not damaged.

I have always been a church girl, so I went to church, listened to sermons, teachings and of course I read the Bible. I prayed to God to help me forgive everyone I was angry with, because I got to know it would tie me down. I forgave my uncle, my father and everyone who contributed to hurting me.

And most importantly, I began my quest for my life’s purpose; I wanted to know why I was created. I began to see life differently; I began to live intentionally, and the pain from the past faded by the day. I still thought about it, but it no longer weighed me down.

She’s clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come – Proverbs 31:25

***

On the 16th of November, 2016 at about 2 am, armed robbers broke into my house and robbed me of all they could. My phones, cash, and jewelries (which they suspected to be gold).

Soon, they cocked their guns, asking me and my friend who was with me that night to STRIP. Fear took over me; it was as though the world was caving in on me, again.

I cried. I begged. I told them I had been through this ordeal before and it won’t be fair that I’d have to go through it again. We begged, but they turned deaf ears to our pleas.

That night I was raped at gunpoint, alongside my friend. The robbers threatened to kill us if we dared mention the rape to anyone. Ironically, while perpetuating their heartless act, they were apologizing and asking that we forgive them. When they had had their beastly fill, they left.

The tears would not stop flowing. The childhood incident came alive and once again, I was battered and felt that life was really unfair. I thought of the stigma attached to rape victims, and hated that I was going to be one of those stigmatized.

Everyone who heard about the incident kept telling me not to let any more persons know that I had been raped. At a point, I laughed whenever I heard them say this. Looking at my society and how many rape cases and sexual abuse/molestation news headlines I had been privy to, I knew how many of these victims have been damaged and many who couldn’t handle the trauma and my heart broke for them. I had always wanted to do something about rape and sexual abuse in our society and I saw my experience as an avenue to render the help and change I had always wanted. I knew it was part of why I was alive.

So I made up my mind. I was going to go public with my story.

I shared my pain on my blog and shared with my Facebook community. I launched the campaign I had been nursing called “Demystify Abuse Campaign”. It is a campaign that brings awareness to victims and to the world that there is life after rape, and admonishes the society, young and old, to desist from rape and other sex-related offences.

With the campaign, I also get to visit schools and other social institutions I am called upon to DEMYSTIFY RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE; knowing that the more we ‘hush hush’ about rape and rapists, the more they perpetuate harm to people. We also encourage people to talk about their experience, as it is one of the fastest ways to healing. We teach them what to do if they have been abused or raped or if they ever get to be victims or happen to know victims. With the campaign, we also hope to teach boys and girls the place of consent in every relationship, and that their opinions matter.

We have other victims who are now survivors who are willing to share their story of survival with students and participants at each one of our visits. While on these tours, we contribute in our little way to the education and living of the people we speak to; we donate books, stationery and sanitary pads to the students and schools if need be, and sometimes clothes, shoes and bags if we go to a neighbourhood outside a school environment.

We will not keep silent for silence empowers the perpetrator.

 

***

Maureen Alikor describes herself as a woman with so much love in her heart to share with mankind. She is a writer, God lover, blogger and survivor.  

You can contact her on 08156614213, or email her at demystifyabuse16@gmail.com
She blogs at www.demystifyabuse.wordpress.com

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