As little girls, we heard stories about the stranger that roared around looking for young innocent girls to devour. I was brought up in a semi rural area, surrounded by my uncles, aunties, cousins and endless relatives especially during the festive periods. Everyone who was at least a day older than I was, acted as a parent. I remember my older brother would always give me a hard knock on the head each time I sat to play with my legs open, reminding me to sit properly by covering my panties with my dress especially in public. He never seemed to bother if I displayed my colored panties at home in front of our numerous extended family members and friends. He didn’t think I had anything to worry about as I was surrounded by family. I have waited and prepared for the stranger like other women by building emotional walls around my hearts and not allowing strangers into my world but alas, years after, I have come to realise that the stranger I was warned about lived with me in my everyday life. He was in my home, church, school, workplace, and had the key that unlocks the gateway to my well guarded heart as he had gained my trust.
The stranger that we thought we shut out is the brother, husband, driver, uncle, boss, pastor, child minder, boyfriend and not the guys on the street. The strangers are warmly welcomed in our lives and do not need to scale the very high fences that we have built. It is common knowledge that 75% of reported rape cases (most rape cases in Nigeria are not reported in other to avoid stigma) were carried out by people whom the victims could identify and most rape victims do not press charges because they are made to feel they brought it upon themselves.
My very good friend was recently raped by a man she met in church. She was raped in her house and she was advised not to press charges on the guise that she would lose the case. The guy insisted it was consensual sex. They had both been seeing each other on and off for about six months but had never shared a romantic gesture. She had innocently invited him over to spend a Saturday evening with her and he held on to her text message as prove that it was consensual.
Personally, I have had a fair share of sexual assaults from family friends, a priest and an old school mate but the most recent was from a very close family friend who was recently posted to Lagos and he visited most Sundays to spend the day with me. We would talk, eat, laugh and pray. I wanted a devoted husband like him as he always reminded me of the fact that he felt incomplete without his family in Lagos. His family was still in Port Harcourt. One night after work, he came to show me a car he just got and as I walked him to the door he grabbed me and planted a kiss on my mouth and the next was him carrying me to my bedroom. I kicked, fought back and begged him to stop, but my punches did nothing to stop him from carrying his evil agenda. With the generators blaring, I knew none of my neighbors would hear my cries for help. He only stopped when I told him the doors were open. As flimsy as my excuse was, he stopped. He apologized and left. Till this day I keep wondering how I have managed to escape being raped by these men I call family. I live alone in an apartment but one thing is now certain, no male is allowed into my home. If he had succeeded in his act, my neighbors could have sworn he was my boyfriend as he was usually seen in my apartment.
After this awful experience, I began to ask more women about their ordeals and they usually opened up once I shared my story with them. While hanging out with a few friends, being the only single one amongst them, all they discussed was the challenges of keeping a home and their husband’s attitude. I stylishly asked how they kept up with their spouse’s sexual appetite, since they all agreed to a diminished sexual interests after child birth. To my utmost surprise, the oldest amongst them said her husband forcefully got it if she refused and you get used to it and forgot about it the next morning. She laughed at my ignorance and asked me if a husband could rape his wife when I said forceful entry was rape.
As a single woman, I would like to know if a man can rape his wife or if getting it by force can be considered as him getting what rightfully is his? My dear sisters, the stranger has become the friend so look no further he lives by the corner patiently waiting for an opportunity to attack.
Photo Credit: femmelounge.org
Nky Egbe is a 27 year old woman who was born and raised in Agbor, Delta State. A graduate of Delta State University, Nky holds a Bachelors degree in Languages and Linguistics. She works in Lagos and loves to write as it gives her an opportunity to air her views. She is the writer of several unpublished articles and is willing to learn.