(Content warning: This blog contains description of sexual abuse.)
This is something I thought I will never be able to talk about but since I became a blogger with The Well Project and a Global Ambassador, getting to read other women and young girl share their experiences, I received boldness and courage to also share my experience.
Twenty six years ago, a young girl child who happens to be my pride and dignity was stolen away from me by an adult man.
It all started when my dad gave me up to live with another family in Festac Town in Lagos state, Nigeria.
I left my family of seven which includes my mum, dad, four brothers and myself being the only girl child in the house.
My dad told me that I will be able to go to a good school staying with this family which eventually turned out to be a big lie because that was the beginning of my abusive childhood.
I went with him to this other family with great sadness in my heart. Having to leave my parents and siblings; although I had great hopes, expectations and aspirations of getting a sound education and going to a secondary school. After all, I was not a dull girl.
But to my greatest surprise, living with this new family was a "living hell". I was only fifteen years old and I had already started doing all sorts of house chores and taking care of their two youngest daughters ages seven and ten. I cooked, cleaned, washed and still I was not enrolled into any school for the first and second term of school session.
I complained to my dad who spoke with the madam of the house and she then enrolled me into a government school. I automatically became an early riser as I had to wake up by 4am to do the house chores while the whole family was still sleeping. This made me also go to school very late and due to the lateness, I always got punished in school for coming late.
I could not meet up with school work and my heart was always troubled with constant fear and different thoughts of how to deal with life and its challenges every day.
Most times when the husband of the house came back from work late in the night, I was told by my madam that "Chief" is going to eat pounded yam and I, Bose, will do the pounding and wait for him till he has finished eating. After eating, I usually cleared the table and do the dishes before going to bed and this will be around some few minutes to midnight.
The peak of my misery as a child all started one midnight when Chief came back home with a fracture on his ankle; he said that he had an accident and his ankle was dislocated. First he started by asking me for a massage on his leg, then later, he asked me to start taking it further from the ankle to the knee and the upper part of his thighs. As an innocent child, I could sense that scary feeling! That feeling where you begin to get goose bumps all over your body!
All this strange attitude from Chief really got me so scared and worried as there was no one to talk to at that time. One day, it was just the two of us at home and the kids were not yet back from school and the wife was not back from work either. I was instructed by my madam not to go to school so that I will take care of Chief (her husband).
Chief called me to come and help massage his leg to the upper part of his thighs. At this point I was shaking with fear of the unknown and was extremely scared too.
There was a young man who lived at the boy's quarter of the house. I went to him and confided in him about my fears and what has been happening to me and around me. Being a good person with no negative intentions, he said to me "Bose, please be careful and vigilant because he will make attempt to kiss you!" On hearing this, I became so sad and afraid any time I see chief and this continued for many days. I could not run to my home, neither could I talk to my madam concerning the issue and this usually happened when the wife travelled leaving the kids and me at home.
Chief came back very late in the night of that very sad day. As usual, he requested for his meal which I served him and after eating he demanded that I bring water for him in his room. I was afraid but again the thought of seeing one of the youngest children sleeping on the dad's bed gave me a bit of relief. I was totally wrong! The child in question was the sick one with Down Syndrome and she was fast asleep. Immediately I entered the room, I saw chief jumping out of a corner of the room and he locked the door.
As hefty as chief was, I struggled with him as he pounced on me, a very tiny 15 year old girl. I struggled for my life, I struggled for freedom, screamed, cried and tried to fight him, but to no avail as he was too strong and heavy for my small body. I cried and kept on begging him but he took away my dignity and pride by force from me.
This was the worst day of my life and also a day that I can never forget because it shattered me into a million pieces. It was also the beginning of sorrows and sadness in my life as well as the collapse of my educational career.
The next day I pretended as if I was going to throw away the trash and I used that opportunity to run away from the house and went home on the longest journey of my life that time as a teenager.
When I got home and told my mum, to my greatest surprise after I told her everything that happened, she ended up giving my luggage back to the man that same day after he came looking for me. Perhaps I was cut up in a fight I didn’t start. She was not happy that my father solely took the decision to "sell me as a slave girl" so to speak, but turning her back on me at the time I needed her the most was a painful experience. I learned to live with that for a long time until God gave me the grace to forgive and let go.
The Chief begged me to come back home with him. He pleaded that I should not tell my mum about what happened not knowing I already did. But because she was not in support of me going in the first place, this made her unhappy and helpless, she threw me and my baggage back - as if meat to the lion's den.
I wish parents would love their kids more and show them understanding and teach them to be courageous always.
My mum stood by me when I tested positive for HIV. She gave me all the courage, love and support I needed then.
For me HIV means Humility, Imperfections and Vanity. Life is just vanity upon vanity. My mum later died of cancer but before she did, she had this to say… "I wish I had HIV rather than cancer… Now my watch has ended." She died at a time I needed her the most.