The R Word Happened to Me_A True Story
I was barely seven when it happened, way too young to have known the things I experienced that day.
My parents were out for a day as I recall. One day. A few hours. Long enough to change a child’s existence.
There was a man in our compound who always seemed to be there. Children feared his disciplinary cane. It was in the times where “villages” were involved in raising children. We were all afraid of him.
That day, in the absence of my parents, he invited me to his room. It was less like an invitation and more like a command.
“How are you?” He asked, assuming the role of caring adult. “Lie on the bed,” he said. I couldn’t ask why because I was afraid of him. All of us kids were.
So, I laid down. Soon, he had his hands on me. I was literally shivering. I couldn’t say anything. He put his hand over my mouth and forced his way in. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t shout. I just laid there, terrified. And when he was done, he said – I remember his words clearly – “If you say a word to anyone, I will kill you.”
The next day was to be a Sunday. So, he dropped a coin in my hand and said “This is what you’ll use for church tomorrow. Don’t tell anybody about what happened or I will kill you.” I came out and I saw the other children playing. I couldn’t say anything. I just ran to one spot and sat down in pain.
Later that night we were playing. I don’t know what happened but I sat down on a hard surface and I started bleeding. They rushed me to my mom. I expected my mom’s comfort. But she shouted at me. She said I was always playing “rough play”. “Look at the way you’re bleeding,” she continued. She had to clean me up. As a child I didn’t know what caused that bleeding. Somehow, I was angry at my mom because I knew there was something she could have done, but she didn’t do anything. And I didn’t realize what had really happened to me that day.
Weeks later I went to cut my hair in the barber’s shop near my home. This time the barber tried to do the same thing, but luckily, I was able to escape. I still couldn’t tell anyone. I didn’t know that God was watching over me all of those times. In a few years, He took me out of that environment. I had lived in a small city in the west at the time. But I was going to stay with my dad’s sister and her husband in another part of the country.
My aunt and my uncle were strict and had a well-ordered home. I went down to live with them. Some time in my junior year in secondary school, I realized that my cousin had made a statement in the house that I didn’t understand. That night when I was sleeping, he walked into the room. As he walked into the room, I felt hands all over me and I shivered. Then I realized that it was him. He was touching me and trying to put his hands all over me. When I noticed he was trying to insert his penis I just jumped up. He ran away. It was just his sister and I who slept in the room. The little baby boy slept at the time in the room with the parents. Sometimes I wished I could be protected from the harsh things of the world like that baby. When I woke up the next morning, I was crying in the room. I confided in the sister. But she didn’t believe me. She said all kinds of hurtful things to me. He tried many times after that first time. I couldn’t come out to speak again since nobody believed my story.
One day, as God would have it, we had just gone to bed very late that night, his sister and I. And then he came again. This time I screamed. I didn’t care anymore what was going to happen. “Stop this! What is the meaning of this?” I said. The sister woke up. The light came on and he was there with his shorts down. She was mad. “So, all she has been saying all this time was true and you’ve been denying it?” she said. She was utterly disappointed and she reported the event to her parents. My aunt was very angry, but my cousin kept denying it still. When he knew everyone was aware of what had happened, he started to attack me.
He resorted to scare tactics and even messing up my things as pay back. It was quite tense.
At some point said I needed to go back to my parents’ house. I couldn’t stand any of it anymore. I just wanted it to stop. My uncle said I should finish my schooling. He said he didn’t think it was proper to take me back home.
As if all that was not enough, when I would be doing house chores, my uncle would find me by myself and say I was doing a good job and that he wanted to hug me. Then he would bring his mouth close to kiss me and I would feel like I was dying in pain and in anger. He would touch my breasts but I couldn’t say anything. Many times he tried these things. Sometimes he would come into my room when I was dressing up and he would put his hand on my breasts. There were times when he would be alone with me and he would slide his hands behind my clothes to my nipples and I was mad. I asked God what my offence was. Why was all of it happening to me?
I pulled through even though I was almost breaking down. I finally got what I thought was my chance of escape when I went to the university and moved into the school hostel.
This cousin of mine became an enemy to me for many years until he came to apologize even though he still claimed to have done nothing.
There in school I had a school mate – who was a friend – try to rape me. But I escaped. About three different attempts but I escaped.
When I thought of telling someone, the fear was that people would ask, “What took you to their room? What took you to their house?” So, I kept my story to myself.
When I was done with the university, I thought the whole drama was over. Then it became married men following me about. The ones that got the opportunity always tried to sexually assault me.
At a point I went to God in prayer. “My God what have I done wrong?” I thought I was possessed, really. Maybe there was a spirit following me, I thought. Even some pastors tried to sexually assault me. If the people that are supposed to help you, I thought, if the people who were supposed to help us out of pain were the ones inflicting pain, what was the point of this “church thing”?
Not too long ago, a couple of years, in church, there was a women’s conference and a woman came to speak. She said she was raped as a child. When she said that I broke down in tears. She said she didn’t plan to share that, but just felt she needed to say it. Maybe someone needed to hear it. “God does not hate you.” Here she was, answering one of the questions that had burned in my heart. “Did God hate me? Or did He not love me enough?” God allowed it happen because he wants you to help others heal, she said. Even though she was raped as a child, here she was telling her story. She was a Laureate, and a minister. Even though the devil seemed to have had apparent victory over her life, she was not overcome. She said “you need to let the pain go.” I felt a coldness in me. I spoke with her later and she encouraged me. I asked God for mercy for being angry all those years. For years I hated men. I hated everything that had to do with men.
I had realized some time in my adulthood, that what happened to me when I was seven led to the loss of my virginity. I had told God that I wanted to marry as a virgin but I didn’t know initially that I wasn’t one anymore. I was bitter and angry even at God. Why did You allow that happen to me? Why couldn’t you have stopped it? What’s the point of going to church? I wondered. It had affected my academics because I couldn’t study. And I kept falling sick all the time. And then I met this friend. This guy spoke to me in school. He told me to forgive and let go. He told me to forgive that man that hurt me. So, I forgave him eventually.
At some point, I was almost lured into lesbianism. Because I had felt that all men were demons. But I thank God He didn’t let me get into that. All these things led to my healing process and I went to a church where my healing could continue. I met with the pastor who counseled me. He also told me to forgive and to let go. He acknowledged my wounds but told me I needed to let go of the hurt. And he prayed with me. And that’s how God helped me.
I started serving within the church in the place of God’s design. I got a job and now marriage. I was always afraid of how I would survive sexual relations in marriage so I told my husband about my experiences. He was sad about the things I shared, and he was understanding. When we got married, he gave me space to settle in before any of that. God’s design is so much more beautiful than any corrupt version the world has to offer. Being married for a few years has changed my perception completely. I have watched God do a new work in me and in us, and completely turn my world right side up to what He designed it to be. The ghosts of the past don’t haunt our marriage. Rather, I am with someone with whom I slay those giants so to speak.
Now I can share this story because God has been good and kind to me. In all of these things He kept me. I met a pastor who told me “I was sent to talk to you. You lost your virginity in a terrible way but God has healed you. And God loves you.” That’s indeed my story. At some point I had thought there was no God because everything seemed wrong. I felt like everything was against me. I didn’t know God allowed these things for a reason. Maybe I was meant to help someone.
I never knew I would get to the point where I could share this story without crying. You see I’ve been wounded by so many people. But I walk into a place now with my face glowing and people don’t know the story of my pain. I don’t know who this story is going to help, but I’m glad I get the chance to share it. I’m a free woman now! I’m happy. 😊 There are people who have also been sexually assaulted and hurt and no one believes their story. Everyone thinks they are lying. Most people keep their stories to themselves because of these things. God has been faithful. I am free.
I hope this helps someone. I hope this changes someone’s life. Thank you for listening to my story.
Anonymous Freed Woman
To the girl who needs to hear my story, you’re not alone.