It's trending on social media and it hurts!
On social media a prominent Nigerian personality has spoken out about her rape by a prominent Nigerian pastor, the Senior Pastor of the COZA church in Abuja. She has outlined the pain and trauma the rape caused in her life, and who she became after it.
She was 17.
The story above took place in Nigeria but in Asia, America, Europe, and Australia, that girl child or woman is 5 or 10 or 20 or 40 years old. That female might be you the reader, or me the writer.
Some national studies show that up to 70 percent of women experience physical and/or sexual violence from an intimate partner in their lifetime. That number means that the likelihood exist that the woman you are talking to in the coffeeshop, classroom, place of work, or neighborhood has been a victim of sexual violence or rape.
The outcry on social media about the COZA violation has also revealed the misconceptions people have about rape, and even darker, the unhealthy relationship some people have with sex, the opposite gender, and in this particular case, with religion.
ALVN will address the misconceptions and questions.
Why wait so long?
People always ask this question when the victim waits years to accuse her rapist. This thought originates from a false belief that the only reasonable reaction to trauma is an immediate vocal dissent or aggressive fight against it.
Yet life has never supported this response. Let’s consider military veterans. It is not uncommon for veterans to never speak of the trauma they experienced or participated in while at war. They might self medicate but unless under the care of a therapist many usually never talk about it. Yet we can all agree war is traumatic, for it is not everyday you see the human body torn apart in violent death. Why is there silence?
It has to do with the human psyche’s self preservation mechanism: It says, “I must preserve the larger whole by shutting out the destructive piece that could harm it.” Physically this is demonstrated in the way a person might develop amnesia right after a life altering, debilitating car accident. If they remembered, the resulting nightmares and fear might take away the fortitude they need to face their new reality.
For some forgetting or shutting down for a season is the only way to prevent their whole being from snapping completely under the weight of trauma.
This is what happens to some rape victims. To make living possible she might feel the need to bury it in the hidden recesses of the mind where it stays for a season until she can face it.
That season might take years, and those are the years many question.
Many females analyze situations in strange ways. For example, a friend once told me about a friendship she truly cherished but for some reason her friend had ghosted her. As she narrated her face fell in sadness and she said, “Maybe I wasn’t such a good friend after all.” She certainly was not given an explanation by said friend, but that was her foregone conclusion.
Women are known to easily project things on themselves. As a female I can tell you this is true. One of the many voices in our heads when we are in a hurtful or uncomfortable situation is to believe that we are somewhat responsible in some way, even when the facts don’t support that.
With self blame comes shame. A victim of rape will many times rewind in her mind all the things she could have done or said differently. She thinks about what she wore and how she walked and whether such and such statement was perceived as an encouragement. She does this to make sense of how someone she knew and trusted or made contact with could commit such a selfish act. The shame gets overwhelming, the self blame loud and resonating, and crippled under that she says nothing.
Until the voices are stopped and the blame projected to the rapist…and this can take years.
The world can be a cruel place. Many still default to blaming victims. There are many reasons for this.
- Inferior view of women: Some societies simply cannot take the word of a woman over a man. Some societies cannot accept that a man can do a degrading act and prefer to believe the woman – a gender of lower value – caused the higher valued gender to fall below standard. Some religions give them the right to think in this way.
- Educated ignorance: These are the ones questioning the time frame and the definition of rape. Read from the top.
- Unhealthy sexual appetites: An ouch statement but it’s true. Some people blame the victim because the log in their eye is twitching. They might have an inappropriate view of sex or might have been an aggressor themselves. Blaming a victim is their way of deflecting the mirror in front of them, or to justify what they are doing themselves.
- Self preservation: some families blame the victim because they cannot accept they were negligent parents, opened the door to the predator, exposed their child to the predator, or didn’t do a better job of protecting their home. This is a usual response in cases involving close family and friends or religious leaders with influence in the home.
To the victim, the one who truly matters
We respect where you are in the process of healing, and we support your truth and journey. The rape was not your fault.
We want you to consider that you live in a time where your voice will be given far better permission to be heard. The #metoo movement gives you permission to speak. It might have happened 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, but your story matters. It will be the first step to healing.
You are not alone. 1 in 3 women are victims so there is an understanding woman in your circle. Talk to a trained professional as well. You are permitted not to live in the bondage created by another person’s deep selfishness.
Expose the culprit if you can safely do so. We are aware that in some cultures exposure could led to bodily harm or death so if you can’t then the only revenge against him will be to live free.
Remember that self blame is a lie. You have the right to move, breathe, and interact with people anywhere. You are not responsible for the darkness of his soul.
There is light at the end of this. Please remember that when the darkness is most thick. Through prayer, speaking out and counseling, you will finally see it.
Understand that the rape will affect your relationships with people, especially men. Be kind to yourself. Until you heal you are permitted to NOT be in a relationship. You are permitted to NOT react to sex healthily. However, equally, you are allowed to start the healing process so you can one day be with a good man and enjoy the gift of healthy sex.
Why? Because ALVN wants you to live. We want you to fulfill your destiny, to find yourself, and to change the world with your gifts and talents. We will miss what you have to contribute to the world if you stay hidden away in your pain.
- National Sexual Abuse Hotline: Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.
- Find a therapist to help you in your local area: See here
Remember ALVN is by women for women. The most inspiring network for women, our mission is to birth women of wholeness through our movies and publications.