TRUE RAPE STORY AS TOLD BY THE VICTIM – VANESSA DAVID
I make myself believe I’ve gotten over the shame that came with being forcefully used as a sex toy. I convince myself that I’ve forgiven the two men who did it, I even joke with myself in the discomfort of my bedroom that I was wet enough to be penetrated so that has to mean I enjoyed it. I tell myself that I gave this friend of mine the permission to take advantage of me and that my confession to the man I was genuinely in love with at the time, was true. But it’s all a lie, an enormous lie that has only grown enough skin to cover up a scar, partially. The scar opens then and now and the depression cannot be disguised.
It doesn’t help that many ladies now take advantage of the protection that comes with pointing accusing fingers at a man, calling rape when the man did nothing. It doesn’t help that the accusations are usually just a way to punish a man who erred. It doesn’t. But if I don’t tell this story, then I’ll never get over the depression I feel when I touch the hair beneath my thighs, hoping to find reassurance that I can once again, enjoy the feel of having sex.
A lie told often soon becomes true, even the liar finds difficulty in discerning, so then my lies have become my truth: they had indirect permission to have sex with me, after all, I spent more than a day in their room and even kissed the one I called friend. It took me months to open up to a doctor and even then, I felt stupid. I felt he didn’t believe me. I felt I should never have mentioned it because I soon felt he turned my shameful experience into one of his stories.
I am a Nigerian by birth, a graduate from a popular university in Nigeria. It was soon time for my mobilization for youth service and I found out I was posted to a northern state in Nigeria. There, one of my childhood friends was also serving. I made arrangements to stay at his for two days during which he would guide me through what to expect in the orientation camp. This friend of mine, I had not seen in ages. So one can only imagine the glee I felt when I finally saw him. The truth is that I had nursed a hidden crush on him when we were teenagers, I was in love with a boy who had no idea that I was in love with him. Seeing him again brought back the memories of days when I would lie on my bed and spend hours dreaming of he and I and a life happily ever after. I would hope he found me worthy to be called his girl but I knew he didn’t. He was every girl’s dream when we were teenagers and I was just a friend to the family. I kept in touch with him still, but didn’t see him for years (eight years, I think). So it was no surprise how happy we felt to see each other after so many years. For the sake of anonymity, I’ll call him Robert. Robert and his friend Francis (not his real name) lived together in the same room; a small room in a peaceful village. Even after years of admiring Robert, I had suddenly come to see that he wasn’t now a man I would ever dream of dating. His mentality about life was much different from mine, his dreams too shallow but for the sake of good memories, I let myself understand his way of reasoning.
There in the village where Robert lived, ladies loved him. He had a car as a youth corps member, a car I would normally be ashamed of but what else would one expect from village girls who had no access to the real world and whose idea of being rich was marrying a man who owned an okada? Robert always boasted that he had romantic affairs with his students who were actually mature ladies.
The evening of my arrival, Robert and I talked and talked and brought back old memories, we were overwhelmed with hilarious nostalgia, laughing till we started shedding tears.
I once had a crush on you, you know”, I confessed. If he wasn’t surprised, he did a good job hiding it.
“Why didn’t you tell me? We would have been a perfect pair”
“Perfect pair indeed. You forget those girls who were always around you”.
“No honey, I still feel you should have told me. I liked you too, I still like you a lot”. Robert stood up to massage my neck. I had complained it felt stiff because the journey was so long (eleven hours in one sitting position). He thought he still had charm enough to melt my heart.
Robert, Francis and I soon retired to bed. There were two mattresses in his room both on the bare ground. The floor had no carpet, the walls were unpainted and the mattresses, worn out. There was a reading table and chair in the room, books were on the table and a white candle too. He had no taste! Who used candles to read? Robert would tell me the following day that the room and mattresses were given to him by the management of his place of primary assignment and that Francis was just a drifting corps member who had nowhere to stay as houses were really hard to rent in that village. I slept on Robert’s mattress, he slept beside me.
That night, I couldn’t sleep. Francis’ snores were loud so I went outside the room. The air was cool. Robert came to join me and we walked to the spot where his car was parked, we sat on the bonnet of his car and talked some more about life generally, about business and about the man I loved. He told me that he loved me, and he kissed me. I kissed him back and broke it off almost immediately because it didn’t feel right. I felt guilty that minute but we brushed it off, pretended like nothing happened and resumed our chat. Before long, we went back to sleep.
The next day, in the evening, Robert suggested we went out for a drink. I wanted to taste the palmwine the village was renowned for, Francis wanted to drink peppersoup so we all went out, all three of us, to a pepper soup joint close by. Robert had bottles of beer, so did Francis and I had a glass of palmwine. We chatted and laughed for hours, the following day was the day I was to leave for camp so we had to make the most of the evening. When it was dark, we walked home, Robert and Francis tipsy from so many bottles of alcohol. They made me laugh. That was the night I was raped by Robert who, despite my resistance, forced his way into me and invited Francis to do same as it was their only chance. I won’t put details of how it happened because I choose to believe I let it happen. I chose to smile in camp and pretend it never happened while nursing hate for someone who was trusted by even my mother. It didn’t take long for the man I was dating to suspect something was wrong and when he asked, I confessed to cheating on him. I did cheat on him, I just never did it on purpose.
Robert would apologise later and blame it on the alcohol. It hurts that someone I had so much trust in could do what he did but what hurt more was the shame that I felt when I remembered he actually invited his friend. I haven’t spoken to him ever since, neither have I told anyone other than a doctor.
And now, this. But I’m not writing this to attract pity parties, I have in fact come to find happiness and love for myself, I’m writing for records, as a reminder that I’ve lived through the shame and I’ve accepted myself and if I never come out to the public to call Robert and his friend out, I’ve told my story. My summarised story.
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