Every day, more women are standing up to domestic violence and different forms of abuse against women. It’s impressive that people are now more open to sharing their experiences. We find that a lot of people can draw inspiration from the experiences of other people. One of our readers, who has chosen to remain anonymous, sent this to us but let’s call her “Clara”. We hope that our readers will read this and know that they’re not alone and maybe by reading, they’d find strength to walk away from any potentially damaging situation they might be in.
When I was younger, life was just a land of milk and honey.It was a land where the streets were made of gold and money grew on trees. It was a dream but I was young and I guess I was allowed to dream. I was happy; only seventeen and already had a job whilst I waited for the results of my JAMB exams. The first of seven children I was completely oblivious of the responsibilities that lay ahead of me. We were not poor and we never lacked. My mum had a thriving business and my father had a good job. My family was loving and I had a freedom that could be compared to that of a bird.
Little did I know that all this was about to change for me. Little did I know that my life was about to make a massive turn around. This change came when one day, one of my mother’s relatives visited from America. It was my first time of meeting and although I had seen pictures of him, he was a complete stranger to me.
My father called me into the living room four days into this strangers visit. When I entered the room, he said “This is your uncle who leaves in the US.” My father began “He is here to take you to live with him. You are a very lucky girl, so I want you to be your best. Do anything he says you should do because he will be your dad from henceforth. Do you understand?”
Well that was all I could say. This was all new to me and I was scared; excited and scared. I was afraid of being flown miles and miles away from a place and people I loved yet I was excited for what was to come.
Two weeks later and I was all set and ready to leave for the Gold country. My uncle was now my new dad, would be my care giver and my life in US was dependent on him. I noticed that there was something different about uncle, I just didn’t think about it . One night suggested I shared a bed with him and his little daughter, whom he came with. His hands seemed to touch the wrong places that night but I decided to ignore it.
I didn’t know what life in the US would be like but I knew I would get the opportunity to go to school and make a better life for myself and my family. When we landed, his wife was waiting for us at the airport. She seemed nice in the start but that did not last long , she became mean as the days rolled into months.
Here I was, seventeen and far away from home. I was lonely and afraid . I could have dealt with my fear and loneliness but then my “dad” started to play his old tricks again. This time he would ask for a kiss on the lips. I was confused, this was not normal. He should not be doing that but there was nothing I could do about it. The first time it happened, I felt so violated, I broke down in tears and cried myself to sleep. That was the day my luck turned sour.
A week later he bought me a pair of underwear and instructed me to wear them for him to see. I stood in embarrassment as his eyes drank in the details of every curve on my body. I wished the ground would open and swallow me up. Inside me, I wanted to die and never have to go through this again.
He took things to the next level when his wife and kids went on holiday; leaving us alone in the house. One night, he laid out an air bed and asked me to take off my clothes so he could give me a massage. There was no arguing with him and I could not possibly refuse his order. At this point, I knew I was in trouble, things could not get any worse. I really didn’t understand why this was happening. I didn’t think this was normal behavior between blood relatives! Why was he doing this to me? For many days I cried for me, I cried for my family and I cried for my luck.
Life was unbearable, I was afraid to go home after school. As things got from bad to worse, his wife hated me more and she wanted me out of her house, if she suspected anything was happening, she did not let on. One time, she saw a diary I had written about what was happening and ripped it to shreds. She called me a liar and that sparked a whole new level of abuse from her. I was even banned from watching TV. On the sixth month of my second year in the US, I was eventually kicked out of the house. My world was clouded by uncertainty, fear and anger. I thought that being kicked out was a good thing because at least he couldn’t touch me anymore, right? Wrong!!!
As time went on he started to visit me every week. I occupied a tiny room in a shared house but this did not put him off. He had no regards for me and often hurt me in his hid to price my lips open for a kiss. I tried to fight, God knows I did but it was impossible. He was a big man and could easily suffocate me with his weight. He got angry and aggressive when I fought back. On one occasion he ejaculated his sperm on my body when he could not penetrate me. I was miserable, because of this monster.There was no one to talk to and life was just an endless pool of pain and suffering.
When I wouldn’t give in to him, he changed his tactics and started to threaten to send me back to Africa if I did not behave. This scared me to no end. What will I say to my parents? What will become of my future? I could not let him send me back, it would be too painful for my beloved family. So, I gave up fighting. I let him have his way. I gave up my dignity because I did not have a choice. As I laid on that bed on that summer afternoon, I willed myself not to cry, I had to be strong. I could not let him see my tears. No way, I could not let that happen. You might be saying “why did you let it happen?”, ” why didn’t you fight?” and you might be right.
Should I have spoken to someone? A counselor? At the time i did not have access to a counselor and I might not have gone for it if I did because I was too embarrassed .
He sent me back to Nigeria. I was distraught. He stole my dignity and threw me out like a piece of rag. When I was sent back home, I started to look at other options and ways of coming back to the US. People were asking questions after a month of my return, its like the moment you leave the country you are no longer from that country because if you stay too long, people start to ask “so when are you going back. So I desperately wanted to go back. I could not bear to tell my parents about the horrible things Thinking about the heartache that would cause them was unbearable. I never told them and I never will.
I contacted a friend from school, whose parents agreed to let me stay with them. They also agreed to pick me up from the coach station as long as I could get to the city where I lived previously. When I got back to the US, I tried a few times to contact him especially when I needed to extend my stay in the country but he refused to help or even speak to me. I have forgiven him
For everything that happens, there is a reason. I don’t know why mine happened yet but I get to share my story with you. Never think your problem is big and never give up on your life until God himself takes it.
Fast forward to five years later and I have forgiven him. I have moved on and will keep moving on. I now live in the UK, and I own my business. I am also studying English Language at the university.
My abuser took away my dignity but God gave me a new beginning.
Photo credit: naijamayor.com