I had just been kissed, oh wow, he kissed me… I smiled sheepishly. Thoughts going through my head, just wow, he liked me, he chose me. He had his pick, but he chose me.
Those were my thoughts about Peter; he was good looking, hot to be specific. I am a beautiful girl, but for a guy he was way hotter than I was. I had met his sister when she moved into the area, she was a rare breed beauty and somehow we met and she liked me. I soon became a little sister who helped her run errands and clean her house from time to time. Life was already so tough at home, and I was grateful for the little extras, it wasn’t fun being hungry all time, plus the long walks to school weren’t easy especially with the morning sun. She helped me out from time to time, and I was more than thankful for it.
Life was already chaotic at home and spending time with her was fun, my mom was already a part time mum, one we saw before school and then at 11pm when she got back. She had taken up work with one of those political parties and since joined the shenanigans that came with the terrain. Honestly, I was mostly glad she wasn’t around. I met Peter through his sister when he came to Lagos for a visit, one thing led to another and we started dating, he was in his 20s and I was about to turn 14.
Spending time with Peter was fun in the beginning, girls who liked him and wanted to be with him hated me and spared no effort in hiding how they felt. I was a pretty girl and I had gotten used to not being liked for the sake of it, I went about my business and that was it.
On the 30th of September 1997, I was crossing the road to buy a loaf of bread for the family when I heard my name, it was Peter, he smiled and asked if I could meet him later at his friend’s nearby, I didn’t think much of it and said yes. I liked him, so I looked forward to spending time with him and his sisters.
As I walked into his friend’s house, he was watching a movie and I soon joined him on the couch, he had his hands over my shoulder, at least that’s how we always sat together even around his older sister. He soon had his hands in my blouse and I waved him off protesting that he stopped, it was like I had just given the go ahead prompt to the devil when he grabbed my hands and pulled me close forcefully, I thought it was him just trying to tickle me or so, until he grabbed my neck to subdue me, almost choking me in the process, he pulled my dress apart from the front clip on buttons, and with his long nails he reached for my lace panties and pulled it hard enough to rip through them, I struggled for the first few seconds and then started to beg while trying not to make any sound that would attract anyone to us. Who would understand why I was where I was? I threatened to scream and report him when I heard these words… “I am a military kid, we commit shit every day and no one will do jack”… I fought as hard as I could, his nails were long and sharp and he dug through my flesh, while his other hand held my throat. I wasn’t sure if I would survive if I kept fighting, with his weight he pinned me down and forced himself on me. It was the longest few minutes of my life, as I turned my face away from him, I thought I was hallucinating from his choke hold when I heard voices, we were not alone, apparently they had been lying in wait in the bedroom , and there they were; 4 of the vilest boys I grew up with as spectators. They watched as he violently jerked back and forth, hot tears kept streaming down my face, I called his name asking why, what did I do, I kept reminding him I was a virgin, what had I done so wrong to him, I needed to die, it needed it to be over. Then one of the voices asked him if they could take turns with me, and he said no… “Una no pay me enough for that one.” He was paid to humiliate me, they were boys who had chased me in the past, and they needed to humiliate me. When he was done with me, he pushed me off the couch and threw my pant at me. I laid there unable to phantom what had just happened to me, I need the ground to give way; I needed it to swallow me as violently as it could, but the marbles were cold as ice and trying not to have a part in what had just happened to me.
I gathered what was left of my gown, while using my torn panties to wipe the blood in between my legs and slowly made for the door he had locked behind me when I walked in; he threw the key at me while they all laughed hysterically. I stuffed my bloodied pant in my bra and pushed through the burning pain from my bruises. The strength with which I made it home in one piece without anyone knowing what had just happened to me was beyond my imagination. He left for Abuja a week later, he would grin whenever I crossed paths with him, I was humiliated everywhere I turned for almost 7 years, his friends told their friends, who also told their equally vile sisters. I was a walking shadow of emotions; I was breaking, every time I closed my eyes he raped me all over again. What if they had paid him enough to take turns, would I have survived it?
When I finally found the courage to tell his sister, she looked at me, smiled and said is that all? He is your boyfriend and he had the right to sleep with you. I wept bitterly. It wasn’t until I turned 18, I finally accepted I was raped, I figured I went there, I got what I deserved for going to a man’s house. I saw the world in hurts and pains, I was angry a lot, I had a pain that was eating me up, every time I was in a relationship and it came to sex, I saw him in the men I got with and every single one of them went on to hurt me, it was a secret burden I couldn’t share. The worst happened I finally trusted someone enough with my secret, he walked away two weeks later, he wanted nothing to with a woman who had been raped, and that cut even deeper.
Three months after Peter left Lagos, one of the guys walked up to me one evening and told me they had pictures of me, and they would do to me as they pleased. I lived in constant fear, I was running mad. They took turns with taunting me as they pleased and I suffered in silence. Five years later, as I was walking home from Wednesday service, one of the boys was standing at a corner and yelled my name to come, they had done it for years, but that day was different. I walked up to him, looked at him and with courage I had never known, and said, “You might not have physically touched me that evening, but you raped me too. You took advantage of a 14 year old. You are a rapist, that is what you are….” He grabbed my hands and started pleading and started crying. He said he was sorry, he knew better and has lived with regret ever since. That night, I stopped being afraid, I had done nothing wrong and I sure as hell wasn’t paying any more for their wickedness towards me, it didn’t stop the others from bullying me, but I had courage. I was a victim -a little girl who didn’t even know where babies came out from until 4 years after I lost my virginity to their wickedness.
2017 will mark 20 years since it happened to me. I am stronger, braver, lent a voice to help push anti-rape campaigns, I have gotten the help I needed, I speak with confidence and I am no longer afraid to walk away from relationships that require sex as a must. I have grown into this woman I see in the mirror and wonder how I gained so much strength. I am no longer looking for love. I wished for years Peter would be hit by a bus or something, but I guess being bitter only eats up the soul. I let it go.
When I reached out to him recently on Facebook to ask how he could be so wicked towards me, he didn’t apologize and instead asked me to move on and that he never thought about it. I read through his reply with these words in my head… Scum will always be scum. How could I do myself the injustice of holding on to bitterness when my assailant didn’t even feel any remorse. I might never get justice, but I will live well, bloom and flourish and ensure no one else ever goes through what I went through… I will spend my life spreading the love and helping women like me to live better. Justice takes time, but Karma has no address.