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Labo Daniel: Ending Child Abuse in the Nigerian Society

Labo Daniel

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What happened to me was traumatic….

It was incest from my most trusted and most loved uncle who I had loved all my life…I couldn’t tell anyone because I loved him

“….He was a policeman and he would show me a gun every morning threatening that he would kill me if I told anyone and I believed him….

We never talked of sex in my house because my parents were “SU”…”

My rescue came on the day I gave my life to Christ and while counselling, the pastor who I had never met before, said Tonia, your uncle is sexually abusing you and you don’t know what to do. He said this night, you are going to scream so that everyone will wake up and when they wake up, pretend that it was a bad dream so he will know that you can shout now. …I did as instructed and when everyone woke up I pretended it was a bad dream …The following morning, he looked at me up and down and walked away. That was the day it ended because he was wondering where I got the boldness to shout from.

This is the story of a child sexual abuse victim of 1…5….13 whole years. I watched Tonia’s story on Nigerian TV a couple of months ago, and it lead me to an extensive research on the subject of child sexual abuse. I looked at interviews with paedophiles and victims; read several articles from experts like, Dr. Howard Fradkin and victims stories on BellaNaija  The objective was to educate my Sunday school children and their parents. The results have been astounding and I decided to share in the hope that it will save another child

Here are 7 things every parent (In fact, every one) should know about child sexual abuse.

Abusers’ profile
Studies have shown that only 10% of child molesters are strangers. 90% of all child sexual abuse victims know their abusers. They are often cousins, uncles, aunts, domestic staff, neighbours, fathers and even mothers.

Victims’ profile
Abusers often target vulnerable children – misfits, children with low self-confidence ,single children, shy children and most especially those with little parental supervision and love. Nevertheless, every child is a target depending on the respective abuser.

Grooming period
This is the period between which the abuser picks his target and the start of the abuse. This period is used to gain the trust of the victim. Remember this is not child rape which is usually a one-off act, it is abuse. The abusers need to ensure that they till the soil for their continual pleasure over a long period of time. The best way to do this is to make the molestation feel good for the victim, thereby confusing the child into blaming his/herself. During this time, the abusers shower the child with money, gifts, compliments and lots of attention to create a bond between them. Once the emotional bond has been established, they move on to establish the physical bond. To do this, they create a situation where they are alone and initiate (Sometimes through “games”) hugs, kiss on the fore head, shoulder massage, back scratching, flashing of the genitals etc. The abuse often starts after this.

There are also cases where the abuser doesn’t go through the above procedure and starts with the abuse head on using intimidation, fear and emotional blackmail on the victim.

The role of the parent
When your child tells you someone touched me, believe them. They wouldn’t tell that kind of lie on such personal issues. Anytime they insist on not going to a particular neighbour’s house, or cringe when a particular uncle tells them to sit on his laps (They shouldn’t even be sitting on anyone’s laps in the first place) be on the alert. Keep your eyes open and lovingly quiz them for more information. Shouting at them to obey is the last thing you should do as that peels off layers of trust they have in you and reduces the chances of them speaking out.

Ensure you start educating your children as soon as they can say a…b….c, on the parts of their body that no one is allowed to see or touch and explain reasons why they should report to you immediately someone touches them in these areas. Trust me, toddlers are not too young to be taught in bits. I still can’t get over my shock in 2005 watching a woman weep profusely on NTA Newsline after she discovered her husband had penetrated their 18 month old toddler.

Most importantly, make sure you always re-assure your children of your love for them, build a good relationship with them to enable you earn their trust so they can tell you everything that is going on in their lives. Parents should also play an active role by asking them for details of their day, how they feel about a certain uncle or domestic help e.g. I want to sack the house help, do you think I should? Ladi, (a family friend/neighbour’s son) has been coming over more and more these days without his sister, is there a new game you’ve been playing together? Tell me what you did today, step by step. Also ask regularly if they are feeling pains in any part of their body particularly their genitals.

Preventing child sexual abuse
Child sexual abuse can only thrive in secrecy and fear. That is the bread, butter, jam and tea, the monster feeds off. Child victims can end the abuse by speaking out. There are various other ways a child can protect his/herself when the abuser strikes: Run, scream till someone hears, Say an affirmative no and inform the abuser that they will tell their parents. If the abuser has them in a tight corner, they can struggle with the abuser, kick the abusers genitals in self defense, to cause imbalance and reflex release, giving them room to run (That is of course if a child can muster this level of courage). Children have different temperaments and may be unable to take most of the actions above. It is the responsibility of the parents to advice children based on their temperaments and also do their best possible to instil confidence and boldness in a child.

Signs of abuse
Here are some behavioural changes that occur in children that have been abused: withdrawal, rebellion, tantrums, bedwetting, nightmares, depression, resists clothing being removed or being showered for, lack of appetite, voracious eating. Children also become overtly affectionate or knowledgeable in a sexually inappropriate way for the child’s age, dressing sexually to attract men, draw sexually explicit pictures, pain in the genitals, among others.

After the abuse
Give the child time to narrate the story properly, it takes time to narrate the story due to the physical, emotional and psychological damage caused by the abuser. Some adults speak up 30 years later…That is how hard the process can be.

Have the child examined by a doctor, report to the police and NGO’s channelling the cause. These Ngo’s have support groups and therapists who have professional tools to help children heal.

This is a cry to all parents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, cousins, family friends and neighbours to be alert!! Child sexual abusers are right here in our midst and it is our collective responsibility to protect children from them.

Do you have any additions, subtractions, multiplications or divisions? Did you escape sexual abuse as a child? Or were you abused as a child? Please share your story and how it stopped, you may just help save another child.

Photo Credit: Dreamtime | Lucian Coman 

Labo Daniel’s quest for knowledge and adaptability to new and diverse environments has seen her transition from capitalism through everything in between to socialism and most recently, she acts as a gate keeper between both worlds. She has a penchant for discussing social issues as an avenue for finding inclusive lasting solutions. She can be reached at [email protected]

28 Comments

  1. polypoly

    June 9, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    please why didn’t u just add “sex” to the title na??? Child Abuse covers a lot of areas for you to only discuss just sexual abuse.

    Nna my sistah Nigerian Men and religion are still to blame if you ask me. Victims in Nigeria are always to blame……anyone that can devour a child is a PIG and ughhh, please don’t make me remember some tinz I kno…..tufia!!

    Yes. I said men oh. Men rape and tear the lives of both male and female children. yes women commit these crimes, but men commit this crimes in larger numbers and are allowed to marry young girls in the north. smh

    Thank God for people that got help after abuse in NIgeria, their own family and church wont believe them. There is courage and reward in telling ur truth.

    tears from a friend – she wrote short stories and will always submit them as assignment in writing class. the teacher got the gist and knew it was a cry for help. the teacher got the school authority involved before the parents were told. my friend said she felt safe telling an outsider cos her family would not listen and brush her off, like they always did. This was a Nigerian teacher in Nigeria by the way, so not all Nigerian teachers like doing busy body, some are sensitive and pay attention.

  2. A Real Nigerian

    June 9, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    “We never talked of sex in my house because
    my parents were “SU”…”
    What’s “SU” please?

    • Fols

      June 9, 2015 at 9:56 pm

      SU means “Scripture Union”; a often used as a synonym for a “holier-than-thou” attitude.

    • A Real Nigerian

      June 9, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      Oooh. Thank you.

    • Ty

      June 10, 2015 at 12:39 pm

      Holier than thou indeed.

    • derhmy

      June 10, 2015 at 8:26 am

      if u were a real nigerian u would know what SU means

    • Mbaks

      June 11, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      kai, I suspected this guy was no Nigerian. Real Nigerian indeed.

  3. Ba

    June 9, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Enriching article. Let’s say no to child abuse and it vulnerability.

  4. Ekyblink

    June 9, 2015 at 10:14 pm

    Well said @polypoly. Another type of child abuse is what I see every day on slaughter bridge especially, and other places in portharcourt. It is very very unfortunate that a country like this will have its law enforcement officers watch mothers display their children on the bridge so as to make money from sympathetic passers-by. Women with twins, triplet, and even single burn now display their children for money. THAT IS CHILD ABUSE! those children should be taken away from them by the governments and have them (parent) contest to have their child back whenever they are ready and fit to train the child/ren. If they feel they should beg, they should do it alone. This whole thing disgust me.
    Shey bellanaija, if I wright an article on this matter for you to post you would not because am not a celeb. Mfina ibaha, just post my comment. Love.

    • Mz Brown

      June 10, 2015 at 11:51 am

      I have a friend who writes for bella naija and she aint no celeb…yet..dunno d requirements tho but just saying its not about that. You do realize ure asking Nigeria to do something developed countries do which is impossible. Lets put some reality into this, where do u expect the “government” to put the children they “seize”? Im not saying u dont have a point but realistically ur point cnt work. Lets say u were given d duty to clear the streets of beggars and their kids, where would u put them? would u be able to house then and feed them and clothe them sufficiently? how would u get the funds, which of our corrupt bosses will approve such a “trivial concern”.. (Does anyone know if we have anything like Child services in Nigeria tho) .

      The most annoying part are the celebs that will say they are doing charity for birthday and give the tush orphanages what they already have! why dont they go to the slums of slums! Out of point but i remember my nysc year i was tryna do a project,we all know those, i sourced for funds and went to one place for disabled people cleared off d streets bla bla (in enugu) and they had almost EVERYTHING! i told myself they dont need me. so i went to this orphanage and even there, d lady told me i shouldnt give cash cos her boss would embezzle it! so yea i gave what i could in materials and left and prayed for them.

      Anyway i pray for the country is all..and it starts with me and u doing our part..if you had the funds Ekyblink would you take a child off the street and pay his or her school fees? just one child? lets not wait for the government. let us. please im nt judging, just my 20cents

  5. adwoa

    June 9, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    I was a victim. The perpetrator was a neighbour’s son. I think I was around 5years and he, a teenager at that time. He would lure me to an obscure place and kiss and touch my genitals. I don’t remember how it ended but there was this day I got home from school and couldn’t enter our room. The door was locked and he offered to open it for me. I refused and then run and hid somewhere. I started avoiding him after that. I am married with a baby girl now. I will really be careful so nobody harms her in such a way. Till this day, it brings me great shame to recall what was done to me.

  6. hmmm

    June 9, 2015 at 11:50 pm

    When I was growing up, we lived in a single room and parlour apartment.My parents usually slept in the only room while myself and siblings slept in the parlour.when I was 10years old just hitting puberty with my boobs developing ,I woke up one night to find my older brother(by 4yrs) foddling my breast,Immediately I woke up he pretended he was sleeping.That day began a 2years sexual abuse from him. I dreaded bedtime I tried staying up and got very little sleep.I couldn’t tell my parents because I tot I was just as fault as he was.After some months,I was tired and fustrated, I tot I would be able to end the abuse by speaking out and informing my parents.I was suprised with their response that it was a normal experimentation/exploration that boys do and that it will stop with time,with that the abuse continued.My breakthrough finally came, when we moved to an apartment where I had a room to myself, which I always lock whenever I wanted to sleep.Even though he never succeded in penetrating me I didn’t realised then an hate seed was borne in me towards him.I’m 22yrs old now and I have not spoken to him for the past 3yrs even when he talks to me I ignore.I pray God gives me the grace to dissolve that hate in me towards him.I have heard my parents in several occasions say I’m too secretive,I guess I never trusted them ever again,I tell them nothing about my personal struggles even when they can clearly see am passing through something difficult, when they ask me what’s wrong I tell them ‘I’m okay’Abuse affects a child mentally n emotionally. Thanks Labo for this article.

    • Mz Brown

      June 10, 2015 at 11:30 am

      @ hmmm I dont want to sound like the regular churchy person but ive been through some scarring experiences and even though i cannot say im fully alright upstairs( i dont believe everyone in this country is emotionally 100% alright tho) but it is my testimony today that God has helped me heal and given me solace and comfort. You might not hear his voice every minute or every second but He is there for you. I pray for strength for you darling. hard to believe and accept but everything happens for a reason.
      Ok so now WOW @ ur parents like WT fudge?? Its a different thing when u dont tell and they cant read d signs,its a different thing when they dont take action! they have succeeded in scarring not just u but ur brother! because believe me ur brother wont be like every regular guy. what he did was try to commit incest and they encouraged him!
      I want you to know that ure not the only one wo has passed through abuse, its somehow entrenched deep in our values like corruption and embezzlement and hypocrisy and no one seems to take it serious. So dont feel left out,dont feel scarred, dont feel abnormal, dont let it affect ur relationship with people. my parents helped kill my self esteem and yea i called them out later, cos i have big mouth and my mum apologized and i felt better abt it..just hearing her say she didnt mean it..so u might want to call them out, but it seems they just might not apologise but try. its nothing to feel ashamed about, to people or to whoever ur boo or hubby will be. be strong. i dont know u but i got u.

  7. tunmi

    June 10, 2015 at 1:25 am

    Another thing I learned is that parents should not make their children hug others. It’s one thing to require that your kids say hello, and it is something else entirely to force your kids to hug someone they know or somepnw they don’t know. The same thing applies with having them be carried when they don’t want to. Your kids are not your mini-me, they are their own person.

  8. D

    June 10, 2015 at 4:05 am

    @ hmmm, wow words fail me in describing how my head is spinning with regards to what you wrote especially your parents response. That shook me to the very foundation of my being. I feel anger for you towards your parents. You know how will our men know rape is wrong, being a “pedo” is wrong??? when their own parents have made them believe what they are doing is not only ok but right. Let’s not even go to the incest part of it. Wow, I would have confronted them now as an adult both said “brother” and parents. I have confronted my parents on things they did to us growing up that i did not agree with then and now. I feel i should be apologizing to you although i don’t even know you nor your parents but wow i am lost for words.

  9. Sim

    June 10, 2015 at 4:33 am

    Thank God for knowledgeable parents. A shop attendant tried to lure me into his room after buying some stuff. He hugged me inside his shop feigning he hadn’t seen me in a while & tried to psych me into his inner room. Mayb cos I was quiet but I pushed him away took my goods n reported straight to my mum. She told my dad & my gentle dad almost rearranged his dentition. I was a teenager

    In nursery sch our male help begun gettin unusually close to me even though I had a younger bro. My folks noticed and fired him after reporting him to his family & d whole community

    Secondary sch another family friend tried his luck. I got to their house frm Lag & was 2 resume @ sch d nx day ie a boarding sch in my state. The utch (short form for witch) was alone & wanted to rape me b4 his family rtnd. I had just been on a 6yrs journey frm Lag to my state so I was tired. I struggled, beat, bit & begged. He no gree. The Holy Spirit must have ministered to me bcos i calmly asked, Daniel if I was your sista Martha & d same thingy was happening to her would u b happy? He brain reset immediately & I was let go

    You can bet I reported him also. I don’t keep such away frm my family, even though I was to go straight to sch. My parents were more concerned bout my life. I had a few things to buy that Saturday b4 gettin 2 sch on sun morn that’s why I stopped at their crib.

    Thank God for wisdom & exposure. Else I dunno what state of mind I would have been by now. I don’t even remember my experiences till a topic like this is written online or discussed on social media. Stay safe everyone

  10. hmmm

    June 10, 2015 at 8:27 am

    @ D thanks for the words.Some parents are understanding and loving and some are not. I fall into the category of a child of uncaring parents.I don’t think I will ever confront them about their role in the abuse because they are still uncaring towards their kids.Like they can go on for months without calling their children on phone.They also have more preference for a male child than a female one,especially my mum.I have heard my mum saying she wants just male grandkids.Its not even about illiteracy because they are masters degree holders.

  11. Mobi

    June 10, 2015 at 10:20 am

    The first time I heard of sexual child abuse was on New dawn with Funmi Iyanda. I was/is still shocked that it happens at all and that is by such high rate.

    We should also teach our kids to properly identify and name parts of their bodies; teach them to call the vagina, penis, breasts e.t.c. When/if they have to report they should be able to say Üncle Lagbaja tried to touch my vagina with his penis. All these pipi, bum bum, bubu, nicknames can be confusing.

  12. NIRA

    June 10, 2015 at 10:39 am

    I remember my grandparents’ houseboy showing me his erect penis and asking me to sit on it. I was around 8-9 years old. It has made me very weary of ppl around my daughter, even my own brothers. I still cringe when I think of it, and for the life of me I can’t even remember why I didn’t report him, maybe it was cos my grandma would always chase us to the room to go and play so as not to disturb her. I grew up convinced that my grandma didn’t like us. As a teenager, my mum’s cousin that was living with us then tried to touch my vagina one night, I confronted him the following morning in front of my siblings and that was the end of it. Now, I’m very close to my daughter so she’d tell me what happens to her.

  13. penelopeia

    June 10, 2015 at 10:50 am

    My younger sister and I were victims of sexual abuse. We lived with my aunt all our lives. For me, I was about 3/4 years old (i know because of the town we lived in at the time), a bigger cousin lived with us. It was a she believe it or not, she was way older than I was, my aunt was a midwife so mostly at work during day and night. this girl will remove my pants and I will sit on her , i remember her pubic hairs pinching my vagina at the time. she did it several times and thankfully it ended when I went to boarding school at age 6 and she went back to live with her parents.
    For my little sister, she was a sex tool for my then 19 year old cousin, we i was off to the boarding house and my aunt left for work, I think this went on for about 6years, it started when she was age 5. We could not tell my aunt because we were afraid of her. she treated us like step children and loved that cousin (her direct sister’s child). My mum and dad were looking for ‘greener pastures in Nigeria”. I met with my mum once and I told her about all this and all she says are that these things happens.
    Fastforward 2014 Dec, I discovered my little brother aged 20 has been having sex with my 11 year old cousin staying with this same aunt of mine. I went to the police station to lodge a complain for them to arrest him, my mother told me again these things happen and that even some fathers have sex with their children. It turned into a very big family fight.

    The perpertraitor is now married with children and my sister who is 24 refuses to date or let a guy kiss her cos she still remembers that time. Obviously the counselling never worked, hmmmmm

  14. Otrizzy

    June 10, 2015 at 11:55 am

    I could recall when i was about 8 years old .Me and my two younger siblings and our childhood friends the same age rage ,we were doing our normal thing ,strolling down our street work around the house like vigilante and unfortunately we worked to one of our neighbor’s house that was still under construction .

    One the pavement we saw one huge looking man smiling sheepishly as us and one small girl about our age on the mans lap struggling i was so confused cos i could not comprehend what was happening we just stood there watching the struggle for about 10 minutes then worked away .

    That evening when my mum got back form the market i told her what we saw if u see the way my late mum shouted hmmmm all our our neighbour ruched out ,by the time they got there ,the huge man ,the small girl and the okoro she was selling was know longer there .

    I believe children should be educated early enough .

  15. chifire

    June 10, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    I still can’t talk about mine. I really don’t want to go there, it’s a really sad place.
    D truth is, my experiences made me have trust issues. I can’t trust pple, no matter how hard I try.
    I have two very beautiful daughters, & 2 really handsome sons, fear wan kill me. I wish I cud home school dem. Just keep dem away from everyone else. I can’t & it’s killing me.

  16. Lois

    June 10, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    hmmmm, I am afraid by the day. God please help me train my children and help keep them away from all forms of abuse

  17. hmmm

    June 10, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    @mz Brown Thanks.May God bless u

  18. molarah

    June 10, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    Ah, the Sunday school sex ed talk. Tougher than rocket science. All the best with that, mine took so long to prepare for and thank God, it went well.

    And I love that you addressed this to the parents primarily. They are the toughest nut to crack. Their ostrich stance on sex education for their children does not help matters. It would be so much better for all if more parents decided to be more frank and honest about this issue and take the necessary precautions to safeguard their children.

  19. brownchocolate

    June 10, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Its shocking to get to hear about parent’s lack luster attitude towards their children whenever they try to talk to them.= concerning abuse. But I’ve over the years come to realise that some parents really don’t know any better and were probably raised the same way and told the same thing by their own parents. Its take a transformation of the mind and the inspiration of the holy spirit to know what to do. Bottom line is that children, irrespective of if they are ours or not, need to be protected by adults not abused. They look up to adults to protective them because they are young, innocent and helpless. Child abuse takes up different forms but in relation to sexual abuse, it is a different matter entirely. Let us protect our children.

    • brownchocolate

      June 10, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      *protect them

  20. I have been affected!!!

    June 10, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    When i was about 12 years, i was sexually abused by my step-mother’s niece (yes a girl)….I couldn’t tell anyone about it…this affected me to the extent that now i sleep with girls and i even prefer it more than men. I am married but i still sleep with my girlfriend! I just can’t stop.

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