Isio Knows Better is an attempt to capture the shocking and highly entertaining conversation within myself. The conversations between my mind (the sharp witty one), my soul (the lover and the spiritual one) and my body (the playful one concerned with the more mundane things of life). She is the eternal referee between the caustic mind and the sensitive soul. This is Isio.
So, here’s to making private conversations public.
Once I knew a girl. I knew her as a child. I know her now as a woman. She is still becoming. She is strong, beautiful. She was adored. Yet there was something about her; an absent-ness, a vague-ness, a sadness that I just couldn’t fathom. There was an aloofness to her grace. It was there when I looked into her eyes. It was there in her smile. It was there in her being. I watched her love. It was complete, unconditional, powerful, yet detached. I had seen her anger, it was like an ocean and its turbulent flood. And the men came. Magnetized by this wild, unaffected nature’s child. In dozens, they came. In droves, they came confident that they could possess this creature. Make her theirs. Many failed. Many more tried. Still, many proposed.
And so it was that as a student, there came along a suitor of hers. He had tried to embrace her. I saw her smile as she wiggled out of his longing embrace. She wasn’t rude; actually she was never rude, that one. She was just “absent”. Then, he asked her a question , that 10 years down the line, still inspires me to share my friend’s story.
“Do you even know what you are running from? You keep running from me, yet I am beginning to wonder, are you running away from something, or running towards something else?” This was the first time she actually saw him. She looked into his eyes and paused for a moment, then she whispered, “I honestly don’t know…” He didn’t stay long after that. She told him she had to go. So, I asked her the same question – why she was so cold. The answer she gave me chilled me to my soul.
“You don’t know all of me, Isio. I know you think you do. You don’t know my scars. They look at me and all they see is a beautiful face. You don’t know my pain. The things I wish to forget. Do you think I like being this way? Not being able to connect…to feel, to trust? Listen, it is what it is. I will tell you one of the things that happened to me years ago, and while it has been years and I have dealt with it, I cannot deny that it changed me fundamentally. I was raped once… then taunted by the guy and his friends. It traumatized me”.
Oh wow! How did I not know this? I asked myself. I just stared at her in shock.
“I was young,” she sighed. “It was a hot, horrible day. There was traffic everywhere. No taxis, no buses. I had been waiting on the side of the road. It was two hours before I decided to search for one, by walking from street to street with both my arms laden with heavy bags. I was so tired and sore. Then I saw my neighbor. Actually, he saw me and honked me down and screamed my name. He said he was going home and that he would give me a ride. Being neighbors, and him being someone I knew, I sighed in relief. By this time, I was soaked in sweat. I was so grateful. I thought he was a saviour,” she laughed bitterly.
“He said we were going home. We were supposed to go home. Then he told me he needed to make a quick stop. His house keys were at his friend’s. What did I know? When I remained in the car, he asked me to come in; he promised that we wouldn’t be long. He said that we should say hello, that how rude of him it would be, to just leave me in the car, in the hot sun, especially considering the day that I had had.”
We got into the house. There were two friends there. They start to play music. He offered me a drink. I refused. He asked me why I was so “stiff”; I was being a “J.J.C”, that I should act mature. Still, I refused to drink. He goes off to converse with his “friends”. He came back and began to dance. He asked me to dance with him. I tell him that I don’t dance. He insisted. I knew I was in trouble before he yanked me to my feet. I was young; I was naïve. What did I know about sex? I knew nothing about rape. I mean I knew of it, but I didn’t know what rape was. It wasn’t my reality. At that age, all I was concerned about was Organic Chemistry, playing with my friends, and being a child.”
I tried to run for the door, but it was locked. He was so strong. He dragged me along the floor to a nearby room. I was kicking and scraping, trying to hold on to anything to even the odds against my tormentor. At this point, I was shouting and screaming for help…
I begged him. I begged him. And I cried from my soul. I cried to God. My tormentor laughed. He pinned me to the floor and grinded his pelvis against mine as he forced his lips on mine for a wet sloppy kiss. It was the most disgusting feeling in the world. I wished the floor would open up and swallow me. I couldn’t move nor breathe. He was so strong. And he kept laughing at me. Why wouldn’t someone help me? Somewhere out there his friends heard my screams and ignored it. And I died”
“I don’t remember much after that. I know we read about black outs and losing your memory after a traumatic experiences. I never thought it would happen to me. I remember just three things – begging him to wear a condom, him finishing and then telling me ‘look what you made me do to you; you are too pretty’ ”.
I remember walking into my home. My family was in the living room, engrossed in a football match. They didn’t see my bruises, my swollen face nor my torn clothes. I hurried to the bathroom. I scrubbed myself sore. I washed and washed, and sat in the tub shivering, my mind numb. And I wept”
“You don’t know me Isio. All these men, they don’t know me either. Do you know that I walked around with a dagger in my pocket after that incident? That till today I shower three times daily? That I cannot watch a football match? I don’t even want to hear the sounds. Did you know that this man stalked me? Then he mocked me. When I ignored him, he would touch me. I would be walking down my street, and they would follow me, laughing and pointing. It took every inch of strength for me to just walk. Then he would call my phone. He would beg me to forgive him, and then send me messages berating me for acting like a child. All I wanted was to grieve in peace.”
“Yet, it is what it is. I am not a child anymore. I vowed after that incident that I would never put myself in a position where such a thing would happen to me again. I would never be so helpless. I will never beg anyone to save me. I will never cry like I cried that day. I will be so self sufficient that no-one will take advantage of my need, even if I have to work my fingers to the bone. I have no choice. Nobody will rape me again. All these men; they think they love me; they tell me I am beautiful and sometimes don’t understand why this makes me cry. Who would I tell? Tell a man your weakness and your shame, and he would use it as an excuse to justify his wickedness against you. I know, because I tried. That incident made me so strong, so aware, unbreakable and unshakable. You have never been raped, you cannot imagine the devastation it does to your soul.”
She shrugged. She cocked her head to one side and looked at me quizzically.
I didn’t realize that I had been crying.
It’s taken me almost ten years to write this story. And while she gave me her permission to share her story years ago, I just wasn’t ready to go into that place to recount it… the way she told me. Over the years, I have seen people try to justify rape, saying, “She asked for it!” or “She’s gay, let some men just rape her, her head go correct!” To that, I would say this, there is, and never was a justification for rape, nor pedophilia. None. To have someone invade your body, your soul so thoroughly and brutally and leave scars that are better imagined…
May God help us all.
Isio Wanogho is a top-model, TV Personality and entrepreneur. She is conversant in five languages and has 12 years of experience in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Isio, popularly known by her brand name Isio De-laVega, captivates audiences with her signature wide smile and relatable, quirky personality which endears her to many. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @isiodelavega