My body danced against its will to the rhythm of my captor’s song…It was my journey into defilement. Tears dropped from my eyes as though it was rain from the heavens and I felt torn just like my dress. It was all over in about 20 minutes, but it felt like a thousand years.
He was drunk again this night as usual; but this time, I was at home alone with my kid sister. I tucked her in and I went into my room to sleep. I was already sad enough that my mum wasn’t going to make it for my 15th birthday party.
I was already falling asleep when the door of my room was forced opened. I wasn’t scared because it was a usual occurrence whenever mum was not around. I braced my self for the worst as usual: the usual yelling for me to set the table for his food like my mum would normally do.
But this night, it was different kind of. Though he was drunk but he wasn’t shouting as usual, instead he looked at me so intensely in a way I considered ridiculous and suspicious. Apparently it was lust but I didn’t know what it was called that year.
He trudged towards me as I looked on helplessly and wondering if he was going to drag me out of bed this time to get him his dinner. But to my amazement, he pulled off my cover spread, and pounced on me! I had never felt such a weight on me before; he was too big for me to over power.
He parted my legs and then it began, and in about 10 minutes I reckon, it was all over. “What a dream!’, I had thought to myself. By the time I gained consciousness, I realized it wasn’t a dream, I had lost my virginity. My father raped me!!!
He left my room after the episode was over. Everywhere was silent, the only thing that made a sound was my table clock; it was 12:20 AM. What a way to celebrate my birthday I thought to myself. I dragged my self out of the bed to the bathroom to wash away the filth and smell but I never felt whole again. I cried my eyes out. I felt empty and incomplete. I barely slept the remaining of the night.
In my head, I tried to move on, like its just this once, it was a mistake, maybe he thought I was mum. Or perhaps it was normal for one’s father to do that at some point. I was naive, I didn’t know what to think at that time. But, he is my birth father and he wouldnt want to hurt me, I mused. I tried to make so much excuses for him in my head. Little did I know that it was a deliberate action. It wasn’t the end; instead it was the beginning of my defilement. Every day for 8 years. I was raped by my father!
I was never allowed to move with opposite sex. I was not permitted to have a boyfriend not alone a fiancé. I was locked up for the most vibrant years of my life. Home to school no more; no less. My mum was alive and well, but I couldn’t tell that her husband molests me at every opportunity. My mum was very loyal to my Dad, and carefree about us. Would she ever believe me? I didn’t think so; no one could tell me otherwise because I kept the secret to myself. I felt used and useless. I had my resentments against men.
Whilst in the university, he would drive down to my school sometimes weekend or weekdays just to see me. He was a chief orchestrator; he made me attend a Federal university that was just an hour drive away from home. He made me stayed in a private hostel; he kept me away from making friends. So it became a norm to me; I braced myself everyday for this. I accepted it as my destiny.
Am very sure he tried his best to influence my NYSC (National Youth Service Corp) to Lagos, but apparently, I was thrown far away from him. I was sent to Makurdi for my one year voluntary service. I was so happy that even my mum was in awe. It was the dawn of a new day for me; the beginning of my freedom!
Though I was my usual self; not talking to men and seldom girls. The feeling that my father wouldn’t locate me was comforting. I felt free like a bird. Then, I vowed from the moment I stepped into Makurdi never to go home again.
During NYSC, there were different groups like NCCF (Nigerian Christian Copers Fellowship), and some other vibrant Christian groups who regularly moved around preaching and all sorts. One day, they came to where I lived apparently to visit on one of their members. Then one of the sisters attempted to engage me in a conversation, and then she was joined with another brother. I knew she wanted to preach to me but my heart was already made up. I wasn’t going to have anything thing to do with church since our pastor at home could not see a vision that my Dad, an elder in church, was molesting me.
Nothing they said caught my attention. I was sure they noticed that I wasn’t ready for their persuasive sermon. After about 20 minutes, they prayed and told me that Jesus loves me. It felt like a normal word we say in church as such it didn’t feel like anything new or different.
In the night of that same day as I was about getting ready for bed, I heard this really nice voice; it was so masculine; yet gentle, so authoritative; yet soothing. The voice called my name and said “I love you”. What? I was scared, I was the only one in my one room apartment. Where was this voice coming from, I wondered? Suddenly, I felt this cold sensation down to my spine, I couldn’t explain it. It felt so mystical; yet real.
I gently pulled my window blinds, looked through but no one was there. After mumbling words and shivering as if to death; I finally got my words together. “Who are you?”, I asked. “What is your name, and how did you get into my room?” So many questions at once, so I had to hold on, if I wanted answers; I better ask more calmly and politely; one after the other, I thought to myself.
The voice replied and said to me “Sharon my child; I am your friend. I have watched you closely and have seen your plight. I can help you if you allow me are your worries. You can trust me, trust me. I love you!
It felt like the Nollywood movies we watched while growing up, where an invisible guy was talking to a Pastor or a rebel. Oh well it was happening to me, this moment. Again, I felt naked, insecure, guilty, filthy, dirty, I couldn’t still find the right adjective to qualify me. By the way, no one ever told me those words. No one ever got close to making me open up my painful secrets. I felt I was getting somewhere in this dream.
Then suddenly like as if he was reading my thought which he apparently was, he said to me “Sharon, your feeling guilty won’t heal you. In fact, the psychologist you plan to visit would not give you a lasting solution. All you would be told is how to manage and live with the stigma for the rest of your life. I am the only solution to your issue. I am merciful and full of compassion.
At this point I was really pissed; really? you’re the solution; where were you when I was being molested? Where was your love as well……or is it that you did not love me then because of my filth? So you feel sorry for me and choose to love me now….? Anyways, I’m still filthy and this so called love is it love or pity for a pathetic person like me? At this time, I was already screaming at the top of my voice, forgetting I was having a conversation with an invisible ‘friend.’
It was a tug of war, I was too pissed. You call yourself the gracious one, merciful, kind, loving and all sort right? But you were wicked to me. My life was shattered at 12 and you were up there feeling so cool with yourself. The invisible good friend, yea? I continued to rant and sob like I was talking to my mate. But he kept quite, as if he allowed me to pour out all my hurts. I fell to the ground, sobbing bitterly.
There was a bit of a silence, and then he spoke, “My daughter, I perfectly understand the fact that you are angry. I know and can relate with your frustrations. One of my disciples betrayed me too. What could be worse?” He opined. Then I though, if he earlier called me friend, and now he says am his daughter? And also mentioned that one of his disciple betrayed him? Then that must be Jesus! Jesus!!! I exclaimed. At this point I was on my kneels, broken and helpless!
He continued, “we never really had a relationship you know? You are religious but you never gave me a chance in your life. It is never enough to know about me, what is fulfilling is to know me personally. But anyways, my dear, I’m not here to condemn you, but to bring you the knowledge of the Truth, which is the one true God. And to heal your shattered heart, and make you a brand new person in spite of your ugly past.
Really? But I’m filthy, I can’t be loved. What has happened to me is unthinkable! I’m so unfortunate! I don’t think I can ever be free from this pain. How am I to deal with this hatred?, I retorted. Then I felt someone wiped the tears on my face. It was very real, trust me!
He chuckled and said again, this time emphatically, “I love you Sharon!” It felt weird but I felt safe. The first time someone would ever look at me with soo much compassion, genuity and love… Mixed emotions, I was happy but sad at the same time. Joy bubbled on the inside of me. Again he said, “I love you child, open up your heart to me and let me help you get over this adversity, and you will sure become a new creation, trust me.”
That was the beginning of my healing. I conversed directly with the savior, I got born again; I felt new and transformed ready to face my world. He filled me with His spirit, and I experienced his life-transforming grace. I had a bible, but I never read it, because it never made meaning to me. But after this transformation, I began to read the bible, pray regularly, and relate with people without resentment.
Today I am whole, healed and perfected in the complete work of Christ. I found my father and forgave him after so many years. I tell you… It wasn’t an easy journey but the Lord helped me through my healing and forgiveness journey. My spiritual growth was anchored on Ephesian 4:1-32. You may want to read it to understand what I mean.
Today I’m alive well and happy, tho am not married yet, not because I have resentment against men but because I want to take my time. I have plenty friends by the way, and they are all amazing. Looks like God literally planted me in the midst of awesome people.
I run my own event planning and cinematography business. I am doing really good with God, and not pressured to marry cause I’m complete in Christ and not in a man. I understood that after a while though, that marriage is for two spirit-led individuals who are complete in the finished work of Christ. So till I meet that complete man, I still remain complete.
To all rape victims all over the world… Its not your fault, but I’ll advise you speak out, and quickly too. To everyone out there, you might not have been raped like Sharon, but you feel incomplete, no man can ever complete you, because you’re only complete in Christ. To all victims who have been forcefully defiled, let go; and let God. The journey or healing process might be tough and bumpy but its always worth it in the end.
I’m a regenerated lady, I’m flourishing, Im winning! Yes, we are winning!
Story by Titilola Ogunwale