MY UNVEILING

As a teenager, I was broken, hurt, filled with guilt, clueless and craved death. I had thought about taking my life several times but couldn’t bring myself to do it for some reason. The major fear was not wanting to go to hell. I was shy, timid and my self-esteem had literally been crushed. I was made to attend a boarding school in order for me to be as far away from trouble as possible, having gone through a period of sustained emotional, sexual and physical abuse from the age of 10 up into my mid-teens (13years).

My abuser was a neighbour, someone I called ‘Uncle’ and I recall him being 13 years older. The first point of contact was when I became friends with his niece who was about the same age as me. As kids, we often came out to play in the evenings when we had finished with our chores. It was in one of those evenings I got to encounter him for the first time. The first thing he did was start a conversation about God and asking if we were Christians. Upon hearing him talk about God the way he did, I trusted him, unknown to me that it was a strategy. I was gullible, ignorant of his strategy, naïve and a minor who felt her parents didn’t love her and so easily fell for what looked like love.

After that conversation, I let him in on everything that concerned me while he worked on manipulating and filling my head with lies that didn’t just make me an awfully stubborn and hard-hearted child but also one who hated her parents. I had fallen into a very deep pit and I was stuck there for a very long time with no one to tend to the wounds which I had gotten before they got infected. It only took one meeting to change everything as my life did not remain the same in the few years that followed.

He was a psychopath and a control freak. When he asked for something and couldn’t get it, he either took it forcefully or he manipulated his way to get it. He never let me mingle with my peers. I got followed everywhere I went, he kept track of those I talked to even via mobile. I got hit whenever I went against his will. He also went as far as giving me a ring. He made me believe that having that would join us together and it gave him free access whenever he wanted to touch me. He stated that the ring did not make anything he was doing with/to me wrong which included hitting me.

At a point, I had to honestly talk to myself. Once I clocked 11, my monthly flow started. I had always been scared of getting pregnant and with the start of my cycle, I became even more scared. I wanted out. The question was how? How was I going to put an end to whatever this was? How was I going to tell him that I was tired of the madness? Who was I going to talk to? Who would believe me and not blame me? Who could I trust? Well, I had no answer to these questions but I opted to tell him that I wanted out. I told him I was tired and I wanted to have a normal teenage life. As expected he flared up and after a long time arguing and fighting — him hitting me and me struggling, I picked up a knife in my defence. I wanted to end this so bad. I was prepared to make use of the knife on both of us if he happened to lay a hand on me again. Seeing that I meant every word I said, he tried to calm me down then he played his last card which was blackmailing me. He had in his possession a nude video that he had demanded I do with his phone a while back. He threatened to show it to my parents and the entire world by posting it on the net. The bottom line is I stayed. I ended up staying because I was stuck. I raised the idea of walking away countless times but he did not buy the idea. I was scared for my life, I felt imprisoned and I did not want to imagine my parent’s reaction if they found out what was going on. At other times, I thought of running away from home. I wanted to go as far away as possible.

He was found out at a point and sent packing from the vicinity but it did not help me in any way neither did it break ties or communication. One day, he had insisted I come visit at his new apartment and I refused. I knew I was in for a lot of trouble at the close of school and I was right. Once school closed for the day, he was at the gate waiting to pick me up and punish me. Well, that day, I was prepared for the worst. I refused to think of the consequences I just wanted all of it to stop. Upon getting to the school gate, he called out but I did not respond. However, a chase started. I ran as fast as I could but he still got a hold of my school bag which I pulled off and kept running. The long and short is I had to call my mum since I was running late and I had run out of excuses. My mum came to pick me up where I was and the case was taken to the authorities. It was at the Police station that everything eventually came out. In his defence of not violating a minor in anyway, he showed my parents and the top Police officer the video. He claimed I was the one after him which was why I had sent him the video. He also called me a little prostitute, with claims of having nothing to do with me. Upon seeing the video, I was locked up for a couple hours with men and later detained for another couple of hours. I was only 13 at the time, still a minor. I can never forget the look on my mother’s face when she saw her daughter behind bars neither can I forget the tears she had to cry. My father, on the other hand, was trying to be calm about the whole situation but I could see disappointment, anger and hurt in his eyes that transcended words. For me, I felt like ceasing to exist. I wanted the ground to suddenly open and swallow me up. I was shattered, there was nothing left of me. I had even lost my innocence, I wondered what else life had in store for me.

I titled this my unveiling because for those who do not know, THIS IS MY REAL FACE. This is who I was as a child. This is my story(there’s more) and I can share this today unashamed having gone through a painful yet productive process. I never had a normal teenage life as it were. Regardless of all, you probably would have never guessed (for those who ‘know' me). It so happens that I probably would never get justice or is it closure that it’s called? the authorities on the other hand never helped matters…

However, as I celebrate over 2 decades of existence in less than 48 hours, I am reminded of that teenage girl who has gradually grown to become a lady, still growing and strives to be more. I have had to explain myself to people sometimes as they ask questions like ‘Were you raped or you consented?’ and I’m like Really? Have I been speaking Spanish or are you just a pervert? and some really funny statements and conclusions.

I am healed, I am more confident, I know my worth, I have become a source of hope and strength to other girls (one person at a time) and much more. God has gradually restored my relationship with family. Today, I can boldly say ‘I love You’ to my parents, my siblings respect me, my opinion matters in decisions that concern the family and so on. There has been a turn around. I’m stronger, happier, and grateful for life, family and loved ones. I have made mistakes, but I refuse to let them define me. For all I know, it could have ended way worse than it did.

As I add a year, I am grateful for tremendous changes over the years. It’s been one testimony after another. Meanwhile, it will be most fulfilling and the best gift I would receive this year to know that someone somewhere is inspired to rise above pain, hurt, heartbreak, brokenness etc. and really LIVE. Living is now or never. You cannot keep holding on to past experiences & unforgiveness and blaming them for the reason for making present deliberate wrong decisions. Whatever it is you have experienced, it is not peculiar to just you. Someone Somewhere is experiencing the exact same thing if not worse. You can also be inspired today to walk out of that unhealthy relationship. Take it a step further by talking to someone(Not Just Anyone) . Sin thrives in secrecy. The longer you stay mute, the deeper those wounds and subsequent scars go. Let go of the pain, the guilt, the shame, forgive who needs forgiving and move forward. Live your life learning from the mistakes of the past but not dwelling there. You might just be surprised that you didn’t go through all that for yourself. You are not your experience. You are much more and the earth earnestly awaits your manifestation. Most importantly, let God rewrite your story, you can’t do it alone.

P. S: Early birthday gifts are welcome 😊