Written by: Admin_SheEvo
I am a black African woman—a Nigerian woman, to be exact. I was 23 years old when I obeyed the clarion call to serve Nigeria as a corp member. Like every youth posted to a place of primary assignment almost close to home, I was excited about going for service. At least I could come home during the holidays and when necessary. It was a rural area and a boring environment devoid of power supply and good water. The corp members posted there had to make some fun out of the whole environment. We sometimes went swimming at the best hotel around, organized parties and went out to watch football. Just name it. All for fun because the whole place was so boring.
It was a weekend, and I had just been asked out on a date by a man I met online. I was careful enough to fix the venue in a restaurant located in a community close to where I stayed. Although it was the best around, they didn't have much. It was about 4:30 pm when the man I had agreed to meet with showed up at the venue. When I caught a glimpse of him from afar, he wasn't the kind of man I fancied but for some reason, I felt it would be rude to walk out on him. So, I decided to stay and hear what he had to say. He ordered fried indomie and egg sauce which we ate, and a bottle of star raddler to go with the meal. He introduced himself as Chukwuka. I felt relieved that he was Igbo and my unsuspecting Aries nature trusted him even though I had just met him.
I've never believed in jazz or experienced it, but on that very day, I experienced the magic of jazz for the first time because, at some point, I was no longer in control of my will. When he requested that I follow him to his family house to meet his family members, I followed without thinking twice. According to him, one of his siblings was getting married the next day, so they had a little get-together. When we got there, they were all sitting outside having their party. So we joined. I didn't eat anything there. He was busy introducing me to the persons he claimed were his siblings. Then, he asked me to go with him to book a hotel room and spend the night with him. I blatantly refused and told him I'm not the type of girl that sleeps around with men. My senses were gradually coming back by then. When I checked my time, it was already late. So, I gave him a signal that I wanted to start heading home. He pleaded with me to stay a while longer. At some point, I had to inform the man he introduced to me as his eldest brother that I needed to go home because it was already late. The brother instructed him to let me take my leave and asked him to make sure I got home safely. He was forced to get up and see me off.
There were no bikes available when we got to the junction where I was meant to get a bike home. I blamed him for not letting me leave when I wanted to. I didn't know my way around, so I didn't know what to do. He volunteered to call a bike man to come to pick me up and suggested a shorter route we could go through that led to the community where I was serving. As an indigene of that place, I trusted him to know the way better than I did. So, I followed him without thinking twice, not that I had a choice. My only thought was getting home safely. I never suspected anything.
We walked through that path, and I was looking out for the bike man he supposedly called on the phone to come and pick me up. There was no one in sight. The distance he claimed was a shortcut became even longer than I expected. I began to worry, and I was tired of walking. My feet were already smarting. I had already told two male colleagues that I was on the way home, and one kept calling to know my whereabouts. I never suspected that this man I trusted, even though he was a stranger, had ill intentions towards me. I needed to find out the route to move towards a different direction. At some point, I started to complain and ask questions. Why would he take me on a long path without plans to lead me home? He took advantage of the fact that I was unfamiliar with the route and needed to figure out where to go. I was upset.
Finally, we got to a path, and I was in front, not knowing where I was going. The path was lonely. I looked around and couldn't find a single soul around. I started running in the opposite direction, but he soon caught up with me. My heart skipped at that very moment when he got hold of me and forcefully dragged me to the bush nearby. At that point, it dawned on me that I was in a huge mess. He ordered me to take off my clothes, and I tried to struggle. Several blows landed on my head, and a kick swept me off my feet and landed me on the floor. He hit my head on the ground. He forcefully ripped my clothes off and told me that since I refused to follow him to the hotel, this was where I would end up. He forcefully pinned me to the ground and kissed me. I tried to resist, and he strangled me.
I couldn't breathe. He said, “You better cooperate coz if you don't, I'll kill you here and leave your corpse here and no one can come to your rescue.” Those words still ring a bell when I remember that incident. I didn't know which one was more painful. The thought of losing my virginity in the most painful way or having to die this way, in a bush. No one would find my corpse until maybe after a long time. I thought of my family, especially my mother. Would she ever survive the news of my demise? I thought of my dreams, about to be cut off prematurely. I rejected all the men because I wanted to keep my virginity for my future husband. Then, having to lose it this way. So many thoughts were running through my mind. He could have me here and still kill me to cover up his deeds.
Amidst the strangling, and the pain, I tried so hard to fight. I held my thighs tightly together and tried to deny him access. “Please… I'm a virgin…” I blurted out in tears. I thought that could stop him, but no. The only thing that came to my mind at that moment was to pray. I had given up on struggling. It was practically my last prayer. I asked God to forgive me of all my sins and told him if he could save me from this mess, I'd serve him for the rest of my life. I didn't know what had happened because he stopped abruptly and ordered me to put on my clothes. I was just confused. I did as he said. Then, he snatched my phone. It was an answered prayer because I finally saw a bike coming towards our direction, and immediately he ran away. The bike man tried going after him, but he was fast. He got away.
The bike man took me to the nearest police station after I had told him about the incident. At the police station, I found the two male colleagues I had informed earlier that I was on the way home. They had come to report me missing but were told to wait for 24 hours. I was in pain and severe shock. Tears rolled down my eyes. One of my colleagues, a fellow corp member, carried me like a baby. He had been making his advances before the incident occurred, but I was in a serious relationship then, and I did not want to cheat on my boyfriend with someone from a different tribe. I didn't understand the depth of the love he felt towards me until that very day when he held me in his arms. He made me feel safe. He took me to his apartment, made sure I took a bath and held me in his arms until I managed to sleep off his bed.
The next day he helped me take out my weaves because my hair had become so rough and dirty as a result of the incident of the previous day. He acted maturely, tried to keep the whole thing a secret, and urged me to report the incident at the police station. Then, he took me to the police station to write a statement regarding the case. He even urged me to tell my boyfriend about the incident. How on earth was I supposed to do that? I felt he would never believe my story because he had tried to sleep with me several times, and I rejected him, only to lose the same thing I was protecting to some random guy I barely knew. I didn't dare to tell him because I was scared I'd finally lose him.
The police had promised me they would catch the culprit when I returned home to seek medical attention. I had to see a gynaecologist and run a series of tests to know the extent of damage the incident had caused. The gynaecologist examined my private part and said there was a slight penetration into my vagina, it wasn't that deep, and I have a partial hymen, so I didn't experience any bleeding. However, I still couldn't feel like a virgin anymore. At the hospital, I met a doctor that got interested in my case when she learnt it had to do with rape. She told me she has a foundation that deals with rape cases and has all it takes to ensure the culprit faces the full weight of the law. She had so many connections to get this man arrested. All she needed was permission from me to take up my case, and she would make sure he paid for his actions. I was still filled with rage, hurting inside. I wanted to see this man suffer for what he did to me. I had enough evidence. The obvious marks on my face and the rest of my body, even the torn clothes I wore on the day of the incident. But yet, I thought of the publicity it would create. Everyone would know what happened, and I wasn't ready for that. I guess I was not strong enough. People will blame me for getting that close to a stranger. She offered me her complimentary card and asked me to call her when I made up my mind to go ahead and press charges. I took the card and went home.
When I returned to my place of primary assignment, I was still broken. I still tried to keep the secret from people, even my boyfriend. I was confused. I felt useless. At some point, I thought of committing suicide. And I knew I couldn't let my boyfriend. I knew I couldn't deal with this and his rejection if he discovered that I had lost my virginity to a random guy. I didn't know how he would begin to view me and treat me. I just wasn't thinking straight. The memories of that incident kept playing in my head. I needed something to shock me back to life. My colleague, who had carried me like a baby that night after the incident, had come to see me one day, and we had a moment. I allowed him to take me, but he had to use protection. I just needed to be sure of what was going on in my life. I just needed to shock myself to the reality that I wasn't a virgin anymore. I had to tell myself the fact that I had lost my man. Because I knew he would find out and that he would break up with me. Things will never be the same again. It hurt, but this was reality, my reality.
One day, the man who had raped me used his brother to ask me for forgiveness. He returned my phone and blamed it on the devil. Can you imagine that? I could only think of him rotting in jail. I felt I needed to do this to save other ladies from becoming his victims. I still had that complimentary card with me. But I heard a voice saying, “How many times do you offend God and yet he forgives”. Trust me, it wasn't easy, but I decided to let go. I got home, tore the complimentary card, burnt the torn clothes I had kept as my evidence to ashes, and called the police inspector to let him know I was dropping the charges against this man. Ah! Life truly happened to me. It was the most challenging time of my life, deciding to forgive this rapist, even though I knew my life would never remain the same again. I never knew I could be that strong. If I could go through that moment of my life and come out strong, I believe there's nothing I can't handle. It's been years since that incident, and it still breaks my heart. My boyfriend eventually found out, and he broke up with me. I wish I had told him then and just faced the consequences at once. Losing him at that very moment wouldn't have been as painful as losing him now. Once again, I had made a very bad decision.