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BN Hot Topic: Analyzing The Elements of Sexual Abuse

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Last week, I was privy to a discussion about sexual relations between secondary school students and teachers. One of the guys had mentioned that during his NYSC days, he had been posted to a school in Northern Nigeria. He recounted those days and talked of how he usually had sexual relations with the students. He had a roster for them. As he kept on the narration, someone asked how old these students were, were they above the age of consent? He retorted that in Northern Nigeria, the students were usually as old as 18 or 19. He added that some of the girls even taught him some moves.

This did not go down well with majority of people on the group and they descended on him in outrage. Did he realize that was child abuse? Everyone who had a child or a ward said he was very wrong. I was particularly concerned about the blasé tone; especially when he mentioned that the girls were old enough and quite experienced. I wanted to know if the sex was given in exchange for marks or other favours.

That discussion did not end well. However, it gave rise to a lot of issues which are prevalent in Nigeria. One of such issues is the question of whether abuse is still deemed as abuse if the victim ‘enjoys’ it. For instance, one of the guys on the group mentioned that he was sexually abused by his housemaid when he was a young teenager. He, however, doesn’t think he can appropriately call it abuse because at that age he was sexually curious and the house maid was hot. In a way, she had satisfied his sexual curiosity; it was only with the maturity did he realize that what the girl did was actually abuse. We asked him how he would react if his son, is touched by the help. He said his reaction would be dependent on whether the help was a man or a woman.

I opined that the issue of abuse and the reaction to it varied according to gender because one gender takes the role of ‘The Poker’ and the other takes the role of ‘The Receptacle’. Somehow or the other, that goes a long way in affecting how a person reacts to abuse, especially as abuse is a very serious issue. It is an issue that is grossly underrated, especially as some abusers don’t believe they are guilty.

There is also the question of fiduciary duty. Where there is a responsibility bestowed as a result of a fiduciary relationship, there is an expectation that sexual relations of any type is deemed as abuse. For instance, if your priest – whom you confess your sins to – propositions you, there’s a psychological burden that is placed on you. Consciously or unconsciously, there is a question of wanting to please. It’s the same with a parent, lawyer or even your teacher.

It has been argued that reaction to abuse varies, depending on gender or the age at which the abuse takes place. Do you think that abuse is not abuse if it’s a teenage boy who is touched by a woman, and only becomes abuse when he is touched by a man. Do you think that a teacher-student (secondary school) is abuse? What are your thoughts on sexual relations between a priest and a congregant? Is it still sexual abuse if a sexually aware 15 year old is being fondled by a 28 year old woman? Would the dynamics remain the same if a 28 year old man is doing the fondling?

In my view, it is definitely still abuse!

Let’s discuss!

Photo Credit: breakingfree.net

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website atoke.com for more information.

42 Comments

  1. Amanda

    February 27, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    what type of nonsense topic is this…mtshew.May be you should experience it first and answer for all.WHAT A TOPIC!!!

    • Neo

      February 27, 2014 at 3:04 pm

      what type of nonsense comment is this? maybe u should experience healthy debate and sharing of opinions and speak for urself. What a comment!

    • Nneks

      February 27, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      I dont actually blame @Amanda …it may be she has experienced or knows someone that did. Trying to hear or read about people trying to justify thing like abuse can make some people angry.

    • Nneks

      February 27, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      Not saying Atoke did o..Talking about her ‘friends’

    • jcsgrl

      February 27, 2014 at 3:27 pm

      I agree with you but I wont quite abuse Atoke the way you did.
      Atoke dear, all the scenarios you mentioned above are sexual abuse. Sexual abuse can be any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they didn’t want to do. It can also be a behavior that impacts a person’s ability to control the wat they engage in sex or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs.
      Also just because a victim didn’t say No doesn’t mean they consented either or because they did not resist the sexual proposition. It is still abuse. In the case of the corper, he had a “fiduciary” dute (as your lawyer self put it) to his students. So even if they propositioned him, he should have refused their advances.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      February 27, 2014 at 3:49 pm

      Your very clear and yet simply put definition of the term, my dear, will put many lawyers to shame. Nicely stated.

    • Priscy

      February 27, 2014 at 3:59 pm

      Bia..cool down there. She’s not supporting any form of abuse, she’s simply asking a question. I guess you didn’t read the piece and just jumped into conclusion. Next time read, then comprehend before you voice out what you want to say

  2. Mz Socially Awkward...

    February 27, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Yes. It is.

    And the girls in that youth corper’s school were adults if they were 18-19 years old, which takes his actions outside the realm of child abuse. However, it’s still very possible to abuse an adult if you’ve been placed in a position of authority over the abused person and making them feel compelled to submit to you. Especially if they were sleeping with him for grades. I think your friend’s quite a pig, if that’s what he was doing.

    As for the opinion offered by the other fellow who seems to think that abuse should be gender specific…. na wa.

    • Berry Dakara

      February 27, 2014 at 3:32 pm

      I agree that they were adults. However, because he was in a position of authority, and they likely thought denying his atrocious appetite would negatively affect them, it IS abuse.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      February 27, 2014 at 3:46 pm

      Yes, Berry but it’s not “child abuse” that we would be accusing him of. I think we’re both in agreement about it still being abuse in another form.

  3. @edDREAMZ

    February 27, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    Nice piece atoke……
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  4. Troll

    February 27, 2014 at 1:21 pm

    I think it all comes down to knowledge and ignorance. Some of these victims don’t know that they are being abused and some don’t know that what is being done to them is actually wrong. So yes, it’s still abuse even if the victim enjoys it.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      February 27, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      Thank you. And I sense it’s the same ignorance which leads vicitms of rape to believe that if they climaxed, it really wasn’t rape …

    • Troll

      February 27, 2014 at 3:08 pm

      Really? Some rape victims think that? Well, I guess it’s the same thing for domestically abused women who believe that the beatings they receive is an expression of love.

  5. isaid!

    February 27, 2014 at 1:23 pm

    The very fact that you are asking if its an abuse if the victim enjoys it is very disturbing indeed.

  6. winnie

    February 27, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    hmmm!

  7. Dona

    February 27, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Abuse is abuse. That a 15 year old likes stealing doesn’t mean you’d let him/her steal. Talk less of assisting him/her. Enjoyed or not abuse is abuse. Young people are within their rights to have sex however, they should restrict it to their age brackets.
    A teacher sleeping with a student, no matter what age is absolutely wrong because one party is in a position of authority. We frown at university lecturers sleeping with students, how then can it be remotely acceptable in secondary schools where the student is most likely underaged.

  8. Bella Noire

    February 27, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    This article is confusing and should have been two articles. If I’ve read it correctly, the first alarming issue here is that a teacher is having sexual relationships with his students! Even in university, where many students become adults, it is illegal, how much more in secondary school! The second equally alarming issue is the notion that if a MINOR is enjoying sex with an adult, it is not abuse. It is abuse!

  9. Reeda

    February 27, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    Abuse is abuse regardless of whether it’s enjoyed or not. Many times people are vulnerable to abuse because that’s what they grew up around and as such have been conditioned to think it’s normal so they might act like they enjoy it – all the time not being able to identify it as abuse. Only with maturity & information would they be able to do so. The abuser however knows exactly what he/she is doing most of the time and might even further groom the person being abused to make them think it’s normal, it should be enjoyed etc. and go further to make them feel shame or guilt if they object or display any form of resistance.

    The gender and poisition (title) of the abuser is irrelevant too in my opinion.

    Abuse is more prevalent in our society than we choose to acknowledge and more education around this is necessary and was due like yesterday.

  10. iyke

    February 27, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    Whichever way look at it, Abuse, domestic violence, sexual harassment et al is all about POWER. He who has the power between the two parties is likely to abuse, consciously or unconsciously.

    • Jane Public

      February 27, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      For the very first time I agree with you. We can go back and forth on age, gender, etc but it boils down to two words. Iyke mentioned power, I take it further and say Power and control. Abuse is always about Power and Control. Whether DV, sexual abuse, rape, even bullying. It is all about Power and Control. Even up to smacking children (i know it is off topic, and many people won’t agree with me, but it is abuse). Whomever wields Power and Control is the abuser. Whether the victim enjoys it or not. Think of Preists abusing little boys – power and control. Think of a Domestic Violence cases – power and control. Rape is not about sex, but power and control. Think about harrasment at work from a boss (not necessarily sexual harrassment) – same power and control. Think of a lecturer demanding sex for grades – power and control. Think of a housemaid having sex with her Oga’s son – power and control. If you are ever not sure whether abuse is involved, bring in the words Power and control to weigh the situation and you will have your answer.

  11. Neo

    February 27, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    First of all “fiduciary duty”? Really? Gbogbo lawyer grammar. El-oh-el!

    Abuse is abuse and when it boils down to it, its even worse when the “victim” is enjoying it bcos then its more than a physical form of abuse and extends to a deep level of emotional abuse. That person’s mind is being conditioned to enjoy things that they ordinarily should abhor, it starts to create an attraction for clandestine liasons and with that comes the need to hide. If you ask your friend, im sure he wouldnt readily disclose that he had sex with his housemaid as a child bcos deep down he knows its wrong.

    The greatest form of abuse comes from those who should ordinarily be protectors, fathers, mothers, siblings, relatives and most times thats how people develop deep trust issues.

  12. Nneks

    February 27, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    Dear Atoke, I am sorry but as much you want to create discussions, this is a bunch of excuse. All the points you noted are still and always would be Abuse!. Apart from may be the guy who claims his students were 18 and above (hope he is honest). No one enjoys abuse! It is due to shame, low self esteem and lack of awareness that they are conditioned to think they enjoy it but they do not!. if you examine these people or take them through a therapy session you would see that the abuse has affected them one way or the other. Either they are promiscuous, defensive, emotionally unstable, anger, etc.

    As for the guy who his female house maid abused trust me he is affected. Its just that due to the way society has placed men, most guys usually say they enjoyed it, or they were sexually curious or one excuse or the other instead of actually admitting they were greatly offended by the act.
    Chris brown was abused as a boy and look at him now. Some victims face their fears and move on in life and dont allow the scenario affect them so much while others still find it difficult to deal with the pain.

    You also cannot use the excuse of consent bcos some humans are highly emotional and in the case of kids/minors they are very trusting so if you are in a position of power be it a Priest, Parent, Teacher, etc and you are have sexual intercourse with someone you are responsible for, it is Abuse.

    yes the case of a 28 year old woman fondling a 15 year old boy is the same form of Abuse as that of a 28 years old man fondling a 15 year old girl. Like I previously stated society has conditioned males to love or think they adore sex as long as its a woman while females are conditioned to be ashamed of sex.

    I am quite passionate about this cos i have spoken to both males and females who have been sexually abused, at first they might not understand or think they are fine with it but the after effect on the victims is horrible and I would not wish on anyone.

  13. nomad

    February 27, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    A teacher sleeping with a student he’s teaching is unethical if not illegal. There are reasons that this is seriously frowned even if both parties are of age and both consent – even university students. The same way it’s unethical for a boss to sleep with his/her underlings, it’s an easy opportunity for bias or discrimination.

    Not sure why this is up for discussion. Whether is legal or illegal or consensual or no, it can be unethical IF one of both parties has a position of DIRECT power over the other party. There is a reason proper schools and workplaces have strict policies – even when it’s legal or consensual, one party cannot work/teach over the other.

    Obviously, we have no sense of ethics in this country so carry go.

  14. peyton

    February 27, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    I think we need to understand this topic very well. I went to an all girls secondary school and had seniors who were sleeping with the male youth corpers. I even had one teacher (student it teacher) give me his house adress he lived near my house. To come and visit I told my sister who told me to sit my ass down at home.young as I was (13 at the time) I knew I shldnt have gone it is abuse I agree. But we need to understand something which this article raises which to me is the bigger issue why do young ladies (secondary school ) sleep with male corpers or teachers? I had male teachers infact when I changed schools one of my male teachers came to look for me at home.I never slept with anyone of them.but I think we should discuss it because it is an issue. A teacher should not sleep with his students for no reason that is wrong and it is in my book a cardinal sin.and sometimes they don’t sleep with teachers for marks but for the kick of it.there is such a thing as girls being sexually attracted to older men.in these case a teacher who is more experienced than their classmates.It starts from a crush sometimes and becomes something else.but iam going to say this secondary school students who are having sex with classmates will sleep with teachers.and they will not call it abuse especially when its just for fun.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      February 27, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      Peyton, you have spoken the main thing which stayed on my mind after reading about the corper and his “roster”. Schoolgirls just gladly and willfully shagging their teachers & you just wonder where the hell anyone can begin the process of reeducating Nigerian girls about how precious and valuable thier bodies should be. Then you wonder whether the popular view is correct and we’re really too morally corrupt as a country to hope for change.

  15. omoibo

    February 27, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    Abuse is abuse no matter what the victim or abuser thinks or says..

  16. FunkyW

    February 27, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    I don’t see why this can’t be up for discussion, we can discuss about it so that each one can take a lesson out of it.

    Many times youths do these things because they are curious and lack self control, the issue of the boy sleeping with his housegirl or a corper with his students is very wrong but it is not uncommon. It could be happening right under your nose today but you’re unaware or you feel the need to look the other way. Everyone should protect his/ her househelp, student, daughter, niece… from making such mistakes, especially when they start getting “excessively close” to the opposite sex . As Peyton said it starts from “an innocent” crush.

  17. TheNamehasbeen

    February 27, 2014 at 2:40 pm

    Of course it is, male or female and even if it was enjoyed by the victim. There are documented cases of rape victims having orgasms. The point is the NYSC guy used his position of authority to coerce sexual favors from minors. And the maid/Aunty is damaging the psyche of that 13/14/15 year old boy who now thinks it’s ok to sneak into a minor’s room and have their way with them. The cycle continues. It happened to me. I was a child (9-11). I still feel violated 20 yrs later. I never liked it and I think a few sexual quirks I have today stem from that whole thing. It is what it is tho. Join team keepyourextendedfamilymembersoutofyourhomes.

  18. Tiki

    February 27, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    First, y’all need to oust that guy from your group of ‘friends’ as quickly as possible. He has a mental problem. When he rapes your daughters 5 years down the line when they go to play with his kids in his house, don’t say no one warned you.

    • Tincan

      February 27, 2014 at 3:30 pm

      On point.

    • omada

      February 27, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. AA

    February 27, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    Atoke, as someone who was abused when I was younger, I do not understand your point. As long as the person is in a position of authority over the other, abuse is abuse. Yes, the sensations may feel good and at that moment, maybe enjoyable, but it will never erase the dirty feelings and the regrets. So yes, it is still abuse.

  20. mo

    February 27, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    personally i believe abuse is an abuse regardless of whatever reason it is being perpetuated. be it with an adult, an under aged person or a person in authority. For under aged people, a lot of them don’t even understand what is going on and so do not realize that they are being abused. This then places a burden on the ‘adult’ (or is it abuser) to be sensible enough not to carry out such act.

    lets also bear in mind that there are different types of abuse; sexual, physical, psychological etc. The most surprising thing to me is that a lot of our generation (18 – 40) repeatedly suffered some form of abuse while growing up and most just assumed it is the normal way of life.

    my opinion is therefore that to make any change we must communicate with our kids and younger siblings. little children should know early on that it is not ok for anyone to touch your body, or to go visit anyone alone (even family members) etc.

  21. Tiki

    February 27, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Secondly abuse is not about violence or enjoyment. That is why things such as verbal abuse and psychological abuse exist.

    Abuse is about (1) a violation of consent, and (2) a manipulation of a brain considered incapable of mature, reasonable though processes. A person who lures a mentally incapacitated adult into a compromising situation and then takes advantage of them is as guilty of abuse, as one who forces theirself on a teenager.

    The fact that this question can even arise shows that our societies still have a long way to go in accepting that abuse is real, and abuse is deadly.

    • nwanyi na aga aga

      February 27, 2014 at 4:31 pm

      If you say that ‘Abuse is about (1) a violation of consent, and (2) a manipulation of a brain considered incapable of mature, reasonable though processes. A person who lures a mentally incapacitated adult into a compromising situation and then takes advantage of them is as guilty of abuse, as one who forces theirself on a teenager.’ that means that a teenager who orchestrated a meet up with a teacher, expressed affection for such teacher and there was a mutual consent is not a victim of abuse. Cos such teenager is not a victim of abuse by your definition. I really understand the question this article is trying to ask. During my service year, I was propositioned by my student. In fact the boy stalked me, wrote me letters, beat up a student who muttered when I scolded him in class, all his mates knew his declaration of love for me. Mind you I was 3years older as I was 21 and he was 18. So if I decided to accept his proposition or better still what if i genuinely loved him and started something what kind of abuse will it be cos I really need to know. Apart from having failed in my fiduciary duty as his teacher, how can this be categorized as abuse cos that boy was one of the many advances I got in that school. I am not trying to exonerate the guy that slept with students but I saw a lot in my service year to know that it really takes a guy with the fear of God not to sleep with these students. I saw the way they solicited their male teachers. Visiting them in male corper’s lodge, washing plate etc. Now I cant really tell if they were forced or not but knowing those kids and their level of rudeness to their core teachers a male corp member forcing them to do anything was a far cry. Now when this relationship is as mutual as they come, how does it become abuse? Cos if you really served in certain places in Nigeria, you will know that the lines really becomes blurry at a point. A certain male corp member had to escape to my room to avoid a little girl. He kept muttering that the only reason that he was running cos he didn’t want to commit fornication not even cos the girl was 16 cos according to him that girl ‘go sabi pass him’. So now in that situation who is abusing who?
      Then the instance of house girl and oga’s son issue is another blurry line cos I know of an instance where 3 boys who were 17, 19,24 at the time were all sleeping with their househelp who I cant possibly place her age but I am sure that she is older than them cos she ‘carried’ all of them. They always threatened her of setting her up if she refused cos she depended on the wage she was getting from this particular home she indulged them till their mum caught her with one of them, the woman didnt waste time to gist the whole world that the girl was abusing her sons cos they were younger but we the age mates of those evils boys knew it was the other way round. The day my mum was gisting a friend and I corrected the story that the boys were abusing the girl not the other way round they didn’t believe it. The evil boy usually boast about it so we all knew. So abuse is not necessarily a matter of who is older or who is an adult. Once there is consent between adults for me the issue of abuse becomes blurry. A student I know dated one of our single lecturers and later married him, did he favor her in his courses? The probability is very high. Will you call this abuse? This is where the line becomes blurry cos all I see mutual consent.

    • Jane Public

      February 27, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      When you bring consent in, things like age, gender, authority, etc the line becomes blurry. Power and control are the keypoints of abuse. In your case, with the student stalking you, you were the victim, but because you are in authority, you will be blamed. Back to my first statement. Authority blurs the line and infers responsibility, so whether he was the one chasing you, your fiduciary duties dictate that you flee from all temptation. In the case of the housemaid, she was being abused. The boys were weilding power and control over her, but because of her lowly social status and she being older, (back again to authority), the blame will be on her. I bet if it was a friend’s daughter and not the maid, the boys would have been in hot soup, while the girl would have been disgraced as a slut. It all boils down to whomever is weilding power and control

  22. Ijeoma

    February 27, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Load of crap!

  23. X-Factor

    February 27, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    in a very subtle tone…
    @ Atoke, Yes Abuse is an Abuse… No matter what you call it, it is an experience that can alter your future…….
    I was abused @ 10 by my aunt, I turned out to be a Misogynist for a few year afterwards, I met God afterwards and was healed by nothing else but THE POWER OF GOD(talking about the influence of the holy spirit)
    ……but even @ that, this is 23 years after and Marriage & Women still remains a nightmare i often times wish can be evaded…..did i mention having to deal with attraction to older women….. a lot comes with it my dear…. Only Jesus can help disabuse your abused state…

  24. Geebabe

    February 27, 2014 at 5:09 pm

    I think the author of this article needs to educate herself on the definition of child sexual abuse. If she did she would know that it does not matter whether the victim enjoys the act or not.

  25. Anon + 1

    February 28, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    It’s all abuse! #esewalters #coza #biodunfatoyinbo

  26. MIKE.O

    November 15, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Whenever a King , a teacher, a priest or a senior officer appeals for sexual favor from their subject or subordinate, on the normal moral scale such act can be clearly adjudged an abuse, this is so because most often than not the victims are hardly ever able to refuse such proposal as there seems to be no other choice especially where the big man in question is a direct or sole benefactor to the victim.It can also be said that the abuser is in no way expecting his proposal to be turned down since to him it is more like a courtesy even having to take permission from their victims as they assume such to be a right. I hereby conclude by saying that abuse in whatever medium it is expressed remains a serious offense whether the victim enjoys the said act or not,this however should not be assumed to mean that one who is a subject of a sexual abuse has no choice whether the abuser is a principal officer or not but that an individual have the mandate to protect their dignity at whatever cost.

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