Based on a true story; all names have been changed but the story is told using the words of the victim (with little omissions for protection purposes and with her permission).
My name is Adah, I live in Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria. I am eight years old and in primary four. I was molested by my uncle.
My uncle, Uncle Andrew, is my father’s younger brother. He came to stay with my parents after they got married, so you will be right to say that I grew up in his arms, that he was a familiar face, that he was always around. Uncle Andrew is, was family.
Uncle Andrew helped around the house but mostly he took care of me. He was in charge of me; my parents put him in charge. He was always there at the school gate to pick me after closing time. He carried my bag, held my hands as we crossed the roads. He taught me my homework; you know how to calculate decimals and fractions. Uncle Andrew fixed my lunch, he even knew my best food “Indomie” and on special days, he cooked it my special way; with onions sliced in it with a little butter. He supervised my washing, made sure I washed the important parts of the clothes; the armpit region of my blouses, the crotch area of my pants and underneath my socks. He made sure I has siesta; he played and watched TV with me till my parents returned from work in the evening. Uncle Andrew was more than an Uncle, he was a friend, the big brother that I did not have.
My parents sometimes travel out of Makurdi. When they do, Uncle Andrew is my guardian. Mummy and Daddy were sure that he would take care of me. That’s what he has done since I was born; take care of me and the house. He took good care of me, and did some other things.
It all started when I was still seven. My parents had travelled early one Saturday morning leaving me with Uncle Andrew. I wasn’t feeling too well so Uncle Andrew had to bathe me. While bathing me, he put his hand in my private part. Cleaning my private part, the bending and washing below is not strange, The way Mummy does. This washing was different because he also put his finger in my private part. I didn’t think much of it because he was bathing me.
My parents were to spend ten days out of town. Two days later, he came to sleep on my bed. You see, we often sleep together in the same bed especially when we have guests who had to sleep in his room or whenever I sleep off while watching the television in his room. That night was different; my uncle touched my body; he touched it in a way that I felt was not right. He ran his fingertips through every part of me, then, he fumbled hard with my buttocks. Then he sucked my breasts; he bit my nipples. It was very painful because they are just growing. They were still hard like unripe lime. He left his spit all over my night dress.
That night I had many questions in my head, I did not have the liver to ask, not him or anyone else.
The next day, he repeated the same thing, with other painful things. He put my hand on his penis; it was big, strong and scary. He told me to rub it. I refused. I was scared. My Uncle Andrew kept saying he will not hurt me that I was his baby. He told me it was what ‘Uncles did to their babies they really love’. I believed him. He told to imagine that I was eating cucumber. Then, he forced my mouth on his hard strong penis. He begged me to suck it, lick it like Chupa Chops without the stick. Then, something came out of it. It smelt like JIK that mummy used to soak my stained white clothes. Uncle Andrew was just looking, breathing heavily.
He thanked me. He told me I was the best, that he will love me forever.
The next morning, he told me not to tell anyone because they will not understand; they will be jealous of our love. Uncle Andrew bought me things every time and sometimes stopped me from going to our neighbour’s house. Every day from the day he started, he did many things, many of them I cannot remember. All that I remember is my Uncle’s voice begging me and the pain.
When my parents came back, I told them I wanted to ask them a few things. To ask them if this was normal, if it was ok for Uncle Andrew to touch me the way he did, if it was normal that I did the things I did. They said they were tired, that I should wait till the next day. Next day came and they told me to ask Uncle Andrew. I could not do that. Anytime I try to ask, my parents especially my mother will tell me to wait till tomorrow, there was always an excuse. I have headache. I have to go to the market. I have to prepare your father’s delicacy. You see that I just came in. have you done your homework? You this child and your questions. When will you stop asking? Mother had an endless list of reasons not to listen.
Two days to my eighth birthday, it was a Friday, I remember. My Uncle repeated all he had been doing, BUT this time, he put his penis inside my private part. It hurt so much. I begged him to stop. I shouted and screamed but I don’t think anyone heard me. He covered my mouth with his palms. When he finished, he told me he loves me and that I shouldn’t tell anyone because no one will believe me.
That night, I became sick. Goose bumps all over my body. The heat came from inside my stomach and spread outside too. It was fever, my mother said. Fever caused by the fear of turning eight. My stomach, private part and legs hurt so much; I knew I was not growing older. It was Uncle Andrew. He was the one they sent to buy me drugs to treat my “fever”.
The next morning, I was still very hot. I couldn’t even stand well, it was as if his penis was permanently stuck in there. The pain was biting, like I was being bitten by many termites at once or that pepper was there. My parents didn’t travel because of my birthday, so they took me to the hospital. At the hospital, the doctor asked how I was feeling, when I started feeling sick and the parts of my body that ache. After I answered, the first question she asked me was if anybody touched my private part. Before I cold answer, my mother answered ‘No! She is well taken care of’. The doctor asked me to go to the laboratory for tests. The tests proved I had been molested, they found some whitish things (sperm) in me.
My parents cried! I cried!
The doctor asked me to remove my pants, when she looked at my private part, she too almost cried. I saw the tears right there on her eyelids, unable to fall. Just hanging there. She told my parents to come and look at it too. My mother screamed, she removed her head tie, put her hands on her head and cried. My father couldn’t look at it well. He looked once and turned away. The doctor was very angry with my parents; she said it was their negligence that caused it. My mother asked me who did it. I told them It was Uncle Andrew.
My parents shouted ‘ANDREW!!!’ and asked why I never told them. I told them I tried and reminded them of all the time I tried to get their attention to it. I reminded them of the many times they were too busy to listen, of how every time Uncle Andrew was around, of how he said that no one would believe me. I told them that I was afraid.
The doctor gave me some drugs and told me to rest, that she will come with a lady I will like to talk to. I got home tired but I remember my father crying and shouting at Uncle Andrew to leave the house that he didn’t want to have anything to do with him. My mother held me and cried, saying she was sorry for being too busy.
The next day, Sunday-my birthday was a sad day. I slept in my parent’s room. When I woke up, they were looking at me, I am sure they didn’t sleep. I am sure they cried throughout the night. Their eyes were swollen and red.
By 10am, our doctor came with a lady. The doctor says I will have an operation once the pain reduces. The lady talked to me alone (first). She said things that made me laugh. She asked me questions that made me cry. She told me to pour all the anger out on paper. She hugged me. She said that I was a strong girl, that I should not believe anyone who says “a girl is weak.” She then talked to my parents; then she talked to all of us together.
She said the first step to recovery was to let out what I feel (vent whatever emotions you may be feeling). I have cried, I am tired of crying. I asked Aunty Timi-that’s her name questions too. What did I do to Uncle Andrew for him to do that to me/
The second step is to talk about it. That’s why am telling my story.
Aunty Timi says, ‘Anybody can abuse/molest another, no matter the type of relationship between them.’
Please pray for me as I try to recover from this and protect a child next to you.
Photo: Sebastian Bassi