#IStandWithSugabelly: Nigerians share stories of rape and sexual molestation in a safe haven

There is a revolution taking place in Nigeria as men and women are stepping forward to tell their stories of rape, sexual molestation or other varying forms of assault, all thanks to Lotanna Odunze Igwe – Sugabelly.

Since the brave blogger and artists shared horrifying details of her “rape story”, Nigerians are speaking out, breaking the wall of silence surrounding the country’s age-long rape culture of stigmatisation.

Your Safe Haven is a recently launched tumblr account for Nigerians to share anonymously, their personal experience with rape. So far, the stories shared are as riveting and heart-breaking as Sugabelly’s. They also follow a pattern where most of the rapists are intimate partners, family members and friends.

My boyfriend and his friends gang raped me..

“I am Sugabelly, and No, I am not the same person who has been trending over her tales of rape and abuse but I see myself in her.

I met this guy in my penultimate year in the university. He was 30 at the time, I was 21. It was at a friend’s party, and he had come to drop off his younger sister and saw me dancing so he stopped and waited to talk to me. He was working in a multinational, had a car and his own very cool apartment. He asked me out after a few weeks and I didn’t hesitate to date him. He had always been very nice and courteous to me. He would drive miles from the city to my university just to see me (like thrice in a week).

It didn’t take long before we started having sex. He would tell me how sweet I was and how he could never let me go. We would experiment with weed and mixtures of all sorts. I started fantasizing about spending the rest of my life with him. One night, some of his friends had followed us home from the club. I went straight to the room and left him to sort them out. Had my bath and crawled into bed because I had to leave early for school the next day.  But he came into the room and asked me to strip, it was very unusual of him but I thought he had had too much to drink. I simply dug my head into the duvet and ignored him. My loving boyfriend dragged me out of the bed and bent me over. The penetration was as though someone was sawing me in half. While he was at it he told me to behave myself as his friend would like to have a feel of his sweet girl. I thought I was in a dream and tried to wake up to no avail.

When he was done he opened the door and called the guys in. I started begging him when I realized he was serious. I pleaded and cried and held his leg but he kicked me off and told me to be a good girl. The guys did terrible things to my body. One was fucking me while the other had put his penis in my mouth. All these did not however sear my mind as to knowing that my boyfriend was sitting at a corner working on his laptop.

After what seemed like an eternity, he pushed the guys away and started fucking me again. He started telling me how he loved me and would never leave me and how I should understand that his friends had been asking him for long, and since he had also slept with their girls he had to allow them.

He took me to the bathroom afterwards, bathed me and sang to me. Dressed me up and drove me to school. At that time I felt violated and angry and bitter yet I didn’t scream at him or fight or do anything at all. When he dropped me off he made me kiss him and tell him I loved him.

That evening, he came to pick me from school, took me to my house off campus and ordered me to pack my things that I would be coming to school from his house. When we got to the city, he showed me all he had bought for me took me to the club and kept introducing to all his friends. That night he proposed to me and when he saw the look on my face, he pinched my thigh so hard I said yes.

For the next year, I suffered the most degrading forms of abuse from this man. It got to a point he wouldn’t sleep with me if there wasn’t a third participant. His sister suspected and tried to talk to me but I shunned her because in my mind he was going to be the one to marry me after all. I was never even able to tell my mum who believed she was my best friend. I was so messed up I thought to myself that he loved me.

But after he anally raped me one morning and left for work, I called my cousin who belonged to a cult while he was in school and asked him to come over. I explained about half of my ordeal to him and he burst into tears. He told me to pack up while he called for backup.

When my ‘fiancé’ returned from work in the evening, he met four fierce looking guys with guns. My cousin told him he was going to kill him and dismember him and spread his parts on different refuse dumps in the city if he ever got in touch with me again. Then they reeled out other terms and conditions for his restitution.

Would you believe that I still considered going back to him after he sent emails saying I shouldn’t allow my cousin get in the way of our love?

I am married now, I have two girls. He is married too. He sent me a BBM request recently and I accepted before I realized it was him. It all came flooding back. Especially the body odour of one of his friends, and his tears the morning after.

I try to never remember but this is part of my story now. No one else knows this in my family because my cousin swore to me that he would never tell.

I am damaged sexually. My husband says he married a menopausal woman. I have a stock of sexual enhancers just to be normal.

Sexually molested from age 5 to 13

“I was sexually molested from when I was 5 up to the age of 13. The first person was my cousin and we used to sleep together in the children’s room. He would wake me up at night, take off my panties and stick his penis between my legs. I don’t believe he knew where to put it. Because, I didn’t feel any pain then. I don’t know why I didn’t tell anyone. Eventually, he moved away to live with another relation.

When I was 11/12 and had begun to develop breasts, my uncle would pull me into his room, the corridor, the store, anywhere and squeeze my breasts for hours while touching himself. When I was 16, my French teacher followed me into the female toilet and locked the door, pulled out his penis and begged me to kiss it. I grew up wondering if something was wrong with me that made men treat me that way. I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t leave me alone. I still don’t know why I never told anyone till today.”

Dated her rapist for 6 months

“I was introduced to him at a party by my brother in law’s friend. We had gone out a few times. He invited me to a party he was hosting at his home, so when I was invited back to drop my car and go out together, I thought nothing of it. I got there, he was still not ready and I waited downstairs.

He came and kissed me, that was nice, we’d kissed before but he kept pushing further. When I tried to move, he pinned me down and tore my top. I was begging and screaming. He tore my pants too, eventually I had to stop fighting because I was hurting myself more.

My spirit left my body. I remember being across the room and hovering, watching it happen. He left me on the couch and I put on my winter coat and got in my car and went home. I didn’t shower, started dialling 911 but never did. I did go to his house after all & even though I knew that wasn’t reasonable, I just couldn’t deal with the fallout. I dated him for 6 months after. I still don’t know why. It didn’t happen again.”

I have been enduring marital rape for 17 years

“I met Segun, a very sweet and kind man during my undergraduate days. We got married after I graduated. Segun became a monster after we got married. We have 5 kids (2 as a result of marital rape). My 4th child died an infant. I endure his verbal, physical violent abuses because of my kids. Segun beats me to stupor, and rapes me whenever he feels like. I wish to walk away but to where? I guess I have to keep enduring

Molested by his grandfather’s care giver

“I am a guy.

When my grandfather was alive, we always had care givers for him. Aunty Nkiru was one of such care givers. She was at least 25. Aunty Nkiru was a devout Christian. Her prayers were the longest and she’s the first person I ever heard speaking in tongues. Everyone trusted her as a godly person. One night, Aunty Nkiru called me into her room and started giving me biology lessons I never asked for. She touched my penis till it got erect and made me touch her naked body. She assured me weren’t doing anything wrong because we were only “romancing.” I was 10. This continued for a while until I left for boarding school.

My speech impediment (chronic stammering) growing up meant I was super introverted. She knew this and I think that’s why she targeted me. I came home from school to find out she had gotten married and left. Of all the care givers we had, Aunty Nkiru’s the only one that hasn’t visited us since she left. I’ve grown into a relatively mentally tough adult so I try not to blame any of my deviances on that experience, but that doesn’t change the fact that Aunty Nkiru took advantage of a child and got away with it. That is not okay.”

Molested at 7 and gang raped at 15

“The first time was when I was 7. We had this family friend uncle who used to come visit from time to time. I called him ‘Uncle Soldier’ as a kid, he was a military personnel and a friend of my mum and dad. My parents trusted him so much, they let him bring me back home from school sometimes. One day he came to pick me up from school and took me home but that day nobody was at home, so he said he will stay with me till my sister comes back.

I was in my room sleeping when he came in, I closed my eyes tight and pretended to be fast asleep because I was already feeling uncomfortable. He sat beside me and started to touch me, I hadn’t even developed breasts but he kept twisting my nipples and put his fingers inside my vagina. I kept trying to pull away because it hurt. Everything he was doing was painful. After a while he guided my hands to his erection and kept squeezing it. All these while, my eyes were shut and I was praying he would get tired and leave me alone. After a while he stood up and left. I ran for the door and locked it and refused to open it when he came back knocking. I locked myself in and didn’t open the door until my mum came home. I never told anyone what happened that day.”

Raped by a priest at the age of 7

“When I was 7, I moved from Kaduna to Jos to stay with my mother, who was a single mother then. She was a banker and had to always work odd hours. We stayed in like the ghetto part of Jos then. I was like in primary 2 then, so after school every day, I stayed with my landlord’s brother who was like the caretaker of the house. My mum trusted him so much, because he was studying to become a Priest. (Lol).

One day after school, I was in his room resting and waiting for my mother to come back from work. That’s how this man joined me on the bed and brought out his penis. At first I didn’t understand what was happening until he took my head and fixed it on his penis. At that point I was scared. He then started taking off my pant. I was wearing a yellow pant (can never forget), I was literally just on the bed confused and didn’t move. And then the penetration happened, (whenever I remember, I feel like a 5seconds pain in my vagina), it was so painful. I remember crying silently on the bed (till this day I still don’t know why I didn’t fight him off, I was just on the bed motionless), after he was done, he cleaned me up, changed his sheets and that was the end. I sat on his floor feeling very vulnerable and couldn’t wait for my mum to get home. 

When she came back, he was all “oh madam, your daughter behaved very well today”. My mother never suspected anything. One night I was sleeping and my mum woke me up, apparently I was crying in my sleep. My mom thought I was under spiritual attack, so she woke up the landlord’s brother, since he was about to become a priest, and told him to come pray for me. He actually came with a bottle of anointing oil, then told me to kneel down. He prayed and gave me like two caps of oil to drink. I was 8 then. 

I’m grateful to whoever made this platform for us to share our stories, especially anonymously.”

My uncle took advantage of me & my grandmother asked me to keep shut

“I have goose-bumps all over as I have made up my mind to share this story…

I was 8 and my parents were separated and in the midst of the drama, my siblings & I were shipped to the village to be with my grandma and her last child (an uncle). This was in 97. My mum rarely came around, and my dad never came at all. There was really no means of communication in the village. My uncle will send my younger ones out to play and ask me to stay home and do chores… He would bombard me with chores, and beat me if I said I was too tired. He continued like that until one day he made me suck his manhood and called it punishment. He made me swallow, and beat me if I threw up. I told my grandma, but she beat me and asked me to shut up. One day he attempted to penetrate, I cried and screamed because of the pain, and my little sister rushed in. He stopped. After he sent her away he still made me suck him and swallow. This continued for 2 years…

One time, during Christmas or New Year in 2005/06, I told my cousin, because she asked why I hated him. She said it happened to my other cousins too, and that I shouldn’t let anyone hear it. She just brushed it off like it was normal.

That was my last Christmas at the village. Every member of my family knows I hate him, and that I blame my dad, but they don’t understand why. When he showed up at my mums to spend holiday, I pursued him, and my mum still doesn’t understand why.”

Visit Your Safe Haven for other stories on rape and sexual molestations in Nigeria.

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