Sexual abuse left us emotional scars hard to erase —Male rape victims

Tope Omogbolagun – Punch Newspaper

Chocolate-skinned 37-year-old Dotun (not real name) appeared graceful with his petite frame and low-cut hair pampered by curly waves. He was a bit uncomfortable at the start of an interaction with our correspondent. But he soon felt at home after a few hours to share the story of how he was abused at a young age.

“I was introduced to sex at about seven by our housemaid. Looking back now, she must have been in her early twenties then.” Dotun said folding his arms across his chest.

Rape, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is an unlawful sexual activity and usually sexual intercourse carried out forcibly or under threat of injury against a person’s will or with a person who is beneath a certain age or incapable of valid consent because of mental illness, mental deficiency, intoxication, unconsciousness, or deception.

According to UNICEF, six out of 10 children in Nigeria experience emotional, physical or sexual abuse before age 18, with half experiencing physical violence.

The above captures the story of Dotun and other victims of rape who spoke to our correspondent. They were sexually molested before they reached adolescent age. The victims requested the protection of their identities because of discrimination.

Like female victims of rape, their male counterparts were also unwilling to talk. It took a lot of persuasion before Dotun and others could agree to share their stories of molestation.

Dotun said he was seven years old at the time and went to his father’s house on holiday as they weren’t staying together where he met the home help hired by his step mum.

“She sexually molested me repeatedly and threatened to kill me if I told anyone. Somehow, I believed her and I couldn’t tell anyone, but I remember that I would cry whenever I was left alone with her at home. My cries added to her pleasure as she would dip my head in-between her thighs to make me suck her. It was as if she had a built-up fantasy and eagerly wanted to experiment. She made me do all sorts; I should spare you the details. I later resigned myself to my fate with her, and it continued till the end of the holiday,” he added.

Dotun told Saturday PUNCH that he was helpless as he couldn’t tell anyone as his constant cries were interpreted as childhood stubbornness.

He added, “I remember the fears I had and the feelings of helplessness. My father or his wife never suspected anything. They probably thought I was just throwing childish tantrums whenever I was to be left with her. Decades down the line, I still shiver whenever I remember my helplessness with her.”

Pathetic tales of abuse

Dotun linked sexual abuses of youngsters to broken homes and insensitivity by parents sometimes. He felt living in different homes was part of what exposed him to sexual molestation at a young age.

He said, “At that point when I started to experience abuse, I wasn’t living with my parents as they were separated. I had my second phase of molestation with another maid in another location. I wasn’t living with my biological parents at the time. The maid would deliberately undress in my presence and tell me to rub my hands through her body. “It was no longer new to me though, having been taught by my first abuser. But it was intriguing to her when she discovered what I could do. So I became her ‘tool’, and later I was the one going to her. I would mount her even in her sleep.”

“And then there was a third abuser; a friend’s eldest sister. I think I was over eight years then. She was in her finals in secondary school and probably in her early twenties. I had gone to my friend’s house after school and it happened that she was the only one around.  She called us (three boys) into the room and started examining and fondling our genitals. Then she sent the other boys out of the room leaving me with her. I can’t share more details with you.

“One day, she took the act one step further. She brought her neighbour’s daughter of about the same age as us (myself and her younger brother) and told us to play ‘mummy and daddy’. It appears the universe conspired against me. At about 10 years, I had known and done things undeserving of my age.”

Destroyed in ignorance

Forty-year-old Suleiman was also molested at age three by his nanny who was newly-wedded then.  He told our correspondent that his mother trusted the Amariya who volunteered to help her take care of her son as she had just been delivered of a baby girl.

The lanky, dark-skinned father felt awkward narrating his ordeal in the hands of the nanny.

He said, “My experience with Binta, a Shuwa woman who was my nanny from age three to four years was terrible. Binta came into my life when she moved into our block of flats as the newly-wed wife of a neighbour. She was beautiful. Her sweet nature made many in the neighbourhood to love her. When she came into the neighbourhood, my mother was just delivered of my sister.

“From there, Binta became a nanny to then three-year-old me. Mum was understandably pleased with the relief the arrangement offered with me spending most of the day with Binta. I remember as a child then that her husband who I later knew to be a businessman was usually out of the house early each morning. Binta and I were usually left in the flat.

“It soon became a daily routine for her to visit my mum in the morning, bathe the newborn and leave with me to her flat until 4 pm when mum would send one of my older siblings to bring me. Etched forever in my memory is her large four-poster bed with gold-topped pillars and lacy curtains. I remember afternoons spent lying with Binta in the curtained coolness of the giant bed enjoying the sleep of innocence.”

Suleiman explained that despite all that happened on Binta’s bed, he never knew that what they were doing was wrong and neither did he know that he was being used. He further said later in life he thought rape was peculiar to ladies and never knew all his life that he was raped until he had a conversation with a psychologist friend.

He stated, “I never knew anything inappropriate happened during all those times with Binta until one evening years later, a friend who was studying for a pro clap in psychology asked me if I could remember my earliest sexual memories.

“After thinking hard, I told her of a recurring dream I used to have from age five to six years about Binta. I would dream that Binta and I were having some romantic moments. I always woke up from the dreams with exquisite sensations of pleasure coursing through my young body.

“At this point, my friend sat up very sharply and looked at me with a peculiar expression and said simply: “She raped you”. She explained to me that the dreams I had of Binta were in fact, real-life ‘events’ that had been buried in my subconscious. The dreams, according to her, were my subconscious’ attempts to relive what was an incomprehensible event.

“When she finished her diagnosis, I was utterly stunned. What I had thought were mere childhood dreams weren’t after all. My innocence was taken by a depraved, sexual deviant named Binta who abused my mother’s trust and used my young body.”

For 42-year-old doctor, Edet , he would wish to keep the events of his sexual molestation to himself. The light-skinned father of three said he started to experience abuse when he was about eight while his parents were living in a suburb area in Lagos State.

He said, “I was about 8 or 9 years. I grew in one of the suburb areas in Lagos with my parents and siblings. I was molested several times and overtime I started enjoying the act. Our landlord’s daughter then aunty Adesuwa was actually responsible for the act. She has since passed.

“We are about three young boys of the same age she abused. We were informed of the act until we were of age and we just laughed about it and managed to live with it for the mockery and reaction we may get for finding out that a big aunty of over 24 years took advantage of us.”

He noted that it was when he became of age that the post-traumatic effects started affecting him.

Edet stated, “Her style is to call me to her apartment wearing only a white towel and asked that I follow her to her room to give me some money to run errands for her. She would consciously allow the white towel drop and poor me will pick up the towel and say,’ aunty take your towel, it fell down.’ She would smile at me and then hold my hands and carried me to her bed and started playing with my genitals.

“I never really liked the fact that she did this to us many times and most times when I complained, she told me of my other friends in the same compound. She didn’t just use me but she would give me 50 kobo and tell me that my mates were better than I am in bed.  Then I started looking forward to the act to outdo my other friends. Like I stated earlier, I kept it from them until we were of age and anytime we discuss it, we laughed about it.”

Raped by family members

The case of Thompson is different. His first experience of rape was from a relative who came to live with them. He told our correspondent that he was first raped by his cousin when he was four.

He stated, “My first experience of molestation was when I was about four. She raped me for years without me knowing what it was. As much as I tried to continue to live my life as if nothing happened, I had another experience which almost damaged me when I was about 12.

“My mother sent me to deliver a message to a lady in a hostel. I didn’t meet the person I was to give the message to and was encouraged by her roommates to wait for her.  I accepted. Unfortunately, all five girls in the room took turns raping me; they locked the door, tied me on a bunk while the abuse went on. I didn’t walk out of that room the way I came.”

Thompson isn’t the only one who witnessed rape from family members and outsiders; Suleiman was also abused by a family member after his years of torture in the hands of Binta.

He recalled that his second sexual experience was with his cousin who grew up in our house.

“She was about five years older than me.  She was 17. I thought only men rape women. It was during a mid-term break. My siblings were in school while I was at home with her. She had just sat for the SSCE exams then and we were always at home alone together as my parents would have gone to work. My father worked out of town then.

“That morning, I woke up a bit later than usual. Everybody had left the house for school and work. I went to her room to ask for breakfast but she was taking her bath so I waited for her. I was lying on her bed when she came out of the bathroom and as usual, we started teasing each other. We were close. She started making fun of my well-known (in the family) ‘cooking disability’.

“We started childhood fighting and before I knew it, she grabbed my manhood and that was how she raped me the first time. After that, it didn’t stop. I think we did that for seven years right under the noses of family members.  The last time we had sex together was a night before her wedding. She is now married with four children. But I never mentioned it to any family member.”

Thirty-year-old Ugochi was troubled as he opened up to our correspondent about how he was also injured by a family member who came to live with them. He said they stayed together for years till she moved out of the house.

He said, “My cousin was staying with us and my siblings were in a boarding house while my parents worked as civil servants. I was usually left with my cousin who had me all to herself and did several things with me at age five.

“I couldn’t tell anyone about it even though I didn’t know what exactly it was. But I felt it was wrong. She always threatened to beat me and whenever I told her no, she would beat me and not give me food. After several punishments, I resigned to fate and allowed her to do whatever she wanted with me.  I never told anyone about it till now that I am an adult. In fact, none of my family members knows my story.”

Battered, left with emotional trauma

Dotun, who is now a father of two boys, told our correspondent that the effect of the abuse left unhealed wounds on him despite being married.

He said, “I later realised that I developed an attraction for older ladies. I was pretty much messed up, but the real effects didn’t manifest immediately until years later. The first thing was that at about nine or 10 years old, I was already sexually active.  Later on, I developed this addiction to sex, porn and masturbation. I started finding older ladies sexually attractive. The experience with my first abuser had the most effect; probably because it was my first, and her use of force. Since then I hated being vulnerable. The sexual habits I developed made me think I was possessed. I sought spiritual help which yielded no result.”

According to him, the trauma has remained with him and he decided to continue to manage it.

He added, “What can I say, it took God and a lot of will. I still struggle with some of the challenges but it is better now because I am married, so there is an avenue to let it out. In my opinion, there isn’t such a thing as being totally free. I still deal with the effects.

 “I get scared for my boys. I fear that someone somewhere might want to take advantage of them. I remember sometimes ago when my wife brought up the issue of home help. I vehemently opposed it but she couldn’t understand my reasons. It was when I disclosed my experience that she understood.  She used to ask me about how I became so sexually active and vast. I only told her it’s a normal thing for guys. We never went deep into it, until I shared my experience.”

On his part, Edet said he got disinterested in women as he always believed they wanted to take advantage of him.

He stated, “On the issue of the effect of this act on me, I am not really sure because I led a normal life but I noticed I lost the zeal for women as I only got involved with them towards my final year in the university. I also noticed that it made me very arrogant with women. That is I may overreact over a subject matter depending on whether it is a male or female that is involved. I get this feeling that the female may want to take advantage of me. I may be wrong though but that is the much I can say.

“Again even as an adult, the last time I met my abuser about 10 years ago, she was looking pretty though she was married. My heart skipped that day and she was rubbing my shoulder asking me how I was and that I had grown to become a big boy.  I could not look straight into her eyes. I was just feeling used with memories flashing through my mind. I have forgiven her though.

“I struggled to do this but I am doing so now because it is the right thing to do, not because I want vengeance because she has passed away. May her soul rest in peace.’’

On his part, Thompson said he became hostile and violent with women till he got help from the person who is now his wife.

He said, “After being gang-raped by five women, I fell into depression, became aggressive towards females, including my sister and cousins. I went haywire. I was lucky eventually to meet someone who touched me in ways I couldn’t imagine and made me whole again. She’s now my wife. I met her at a time when I was at my lowest and she patiently helped me out of the pit rape threw me into.”

Suleiman said he got attracted to older women and was always eager for sex.

He said, “Under my friend’s probing, I found out that Binta’s abuse left a scar; from my teenage years, I’d always found myself attracted to older women. My friends who didn’t really know my story said they were surprised I didn’t marry an old woman because I had always liked them.”

Suleiman advised parents to always watch out for their children irrespective of the gender for they were vulnerable.

“The incident I recounted occurred from 1987-89. Paedophiles like Binta were around then and they are still around now. We should be careful who take care of our kids; male or female, as paedophiles don’t come with emblazoned warning signs. For those who have live-in nannies, it’s not a bad idea to get a spy camera to monitor their homes while away, ‘’ he added.

Ugochi said he still got easily triggered sexually and like others now attracted to older women.

He said, “I have some crazy sexual urge that I usually feel that maybe I was jazzed. Another effect this has on me is that I get attracted to older women even though I try not to mess up myself.”

‘We’ve to mend abused men to stop rape’

Commenting on the issue of rape of males, founder, BoysLifeMatter, Nkechi Idiaye, told Saturday PUNCH that she was moved into boys’ advocacy after her experience working with them.

Idiaye said she discovered that boys were suffering in silence and bottled up many things because society expected men to be strong.

She said, “My passion for boys’ advocacy all began with the privilege of Work for Boys Project, Nigeria, where we mentor about 18 street boys in Oshodi, Lagos. As I began to understand the world of street boys, sexual abuse of boys came forth and I realised it was an under-reported issue. I began to interact with them and a can of vicious sexual abuse of boys was opened. It also shows that it is psychological and mentally hampered their growth.

“More so, I began to receive stories in graphic details of sexual abuse and rape of boys. One thing I realised is that we can’t tackle the issue of rape in girls without including the boys. Sometimes, rape is even a circle of revenge. To this end, I saw there was the need to champion and project the voices of the boys on the subject of sexual abuse, which led to the creation of the BoysLivesMatter; a movement to get boys’ voices heard and to sensitise the public on sexual abuse of boys and its attendant impact.”

Rape victims need psychological help

–Fagboungbe

According to a psychologist, Prof. Oni Fagboungbe, sex is a physiological need and some people go far to get what they want.

He said, “Older women tend to develop feelings for younger men and because they are deprived when they can’t get anyone to satisfy them, some of them go as far as raping young boys.

“Once the dependent variable is available, they go into it. This is one of the side effects of having mature domestic staff and others. When they do not have access to sex, they begin to tutor the boys on how to go about it and engage them in all sorts of things to derive pleasure.  Raping of boys happens.”

The psychologist said that rape could bring a traumatic experience which one could only recover from through help from counsellors or therapists.

He stated, “One thing about traumati c experience is that it has a way of manifesting later in adult days.  It could lead to sexual prejudice; that is not easily excited especially when the victim experiences a lot of pain during the act. Such a person might hate sex or the opposite sex.

“On the other hand, it may lead to promiscuity, wanting to have sex all the time whenever they see the opposite sex. They sometimes become stingy not wanting to share anything with people or being hostile to people.

“The best way to bring such victims out of the trauma is to help them see a counsellor or a psychologist that can help them out of the trauma. The experience is usually stored in the unconscious part of the mind. There is a link between the three types of the mind: The conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind. Whatever is locked up in the unconscious mind has a way of finding its way into the subconscious and conscious mind.”

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