A social commentator, Abi Idowu has shared a touching story of how she was raped multiple times.
Idowu shared her story in a series of tweets on her official twitter handle on the 3rd of July 2019.
This is my Truth. I’ve spoken with my Brother and friends about this. Please, I won’t be able to take any calls for now as I’m not doing so good. I’ve also explained why I’ve written this like this.
This is my Truth . I’ve spoken with my Brother and friends about this . Please I won’t be able to take any calls for now as I’m not doing so good . I’ve also explained why I’ve written this like this . Thank you .1
— Abi Idowu- The Happy Place With Abi (@AbisHappyPlace) July 3, 2019
I’m sitting up in bed staring at my computer screen, trying to summon the courage to tell my story but in a rare moment, my usual articulate self is struggling to say something. I’ve struggled for years with the thought of ever sharing what happened to me.
I would make references but for all my boasting of courage in conversations on other topics. I just couldn’t summon up the courage to tell my truth. Even now as I’m finally starting to type, I’m shaking and in tears.
The events of the past couple of weeks got me into a really bad space and after speaking with my brother; a man who though is much younger to me, but whose opinion I truly value, he told me that he’d been thinking along the same lines about me and that I had his full support.
I’ve decided to go against my initial decision to wait until the passing of my only parent before sharing my story and tell it now. In case anyone wonders why I’m writing my account in this format, I have spoken with my psychiatrist and psychologist (yes, I’ve got both&while I know the admission to this is taboo,it should tell you just how deeply I’ve been affected)&they adviced that I put some distance in my account so that my brain doesn’t struggle too much with the pain&I find myself in abject despair as I’ve done before.
When I was 5 years old going on 6 and we lived in Ikeja GRA in the early 80s ( it was very safe and everyone took care of each other’s children), my parent sent me to her best friend’s house to deliver a message.
I was believed to be able to do this as I had started school when I was 2 years old and was quite sharp for my age. Besides, we lived at 14, Ladoke Akintola and this best friend, Mrs Oladipo, lived at number 13. It was a look left and right and safely cross the street errand.
My own best friend who was her daughter was also there and the joy of being able to see her, made my legs go quickly over to their house. It’s interesting how when momentous events happen to us, the amount of minutiae we remember.
My doctors say it’s the way our brains try to protect and process us from trauma. To this day, I remember being told not to be late in coming back. I remember going up the stairs, knocking on the door and being greeted by the eldest son, Bidemi as he opened the door.
Somehow, I don’t remember seeing my friend. I asked for their mother, delivered my message and I remember, him opening the door and walking out with me. Anyone who remembers Ladoke Akintola in those days would remember that the meters were on the ground floor, tucked away in the back and there was a little cubby hole right under the stairs, where people could store things like bicycles, scooters etc if they wanted. The building blocks had 6 or 8 apartments (depending on each block).
The Oladipos like mine lived in a 6 apartment block like ours, in the middle block, just like ours. I remember coming down the stairs and as I got to the bottom to walk out to the compound. I was grabbed from behind, a hand on my mouth and pulled into the cubby hole.
I don’t remember having any thoughts but I remember the shushing voice of Bidemi , telling me not to shout and next thing, he pulled down my pants and raped me. This boy was a teenager, at least 16 years old.
I can’t recall just how long or short a time I was in that cubby hole for, but I remember crying so hard and in a lot of pain. He finished, turned me around so I could see his face and he told me that he would give me a sweet and I must not tell anybody especially my parent because if I did, I knew she was going to throw me away (he said this in Yoruba and I will never forget the exact words,… wọn má ju ẹ nù (you’ll be thrown away). He told me that I knew my parent because she was known to be a no nonsense teacher who didn’t spare a wrongdoing. Her common line to me anytime I did something wrong or that irritated her was “I brought you into this world and I’ll have no problems taking you out of it” and with the way I was beaten, I believed her.
I will not chronicle the ways I was beaten as a child but I can tell you that many many times, I either ended in hospital or a neighbour who most likely feared for my survival would burst into our home to rescue me. So when this boy told me not to tell my parent.
I really thought it was maybe the right thing to do. I stumbled from him and started to walk home, in so much pain and then I thought of my father, my best friend who didn’t live with us as he was away on posting in the Nigerian Air Force, but who I knew I would have been able to go straight to to report and something would have been done. The next chain of events, I again remember so clearly and I have been told that it was where I got my proper introduction to never feeling safe. I climbed up the stairs, face wet (I know this because the house help who gave me my bath later that night asked why I was crying when I came in) and knocked on our door to be let in. My parent opened the door and gave me such a slap that I fell down.
Dragging me up by my ear, I was pulled into the flat as she shouted at me that her best friend had called her on the telephone in response to her message which I had delivered a while back but of course I must have stopped to play. And I was told to get out of her sight.
When I discussed the event with my parent recently, I asked how she missed the obviously dishevelled and tear soaked face of her daughter and her response was why didn’t I say something even after I had been beaten. I then asked her if she were in my shoes, she would have still pressed on to say something when I believed that she would have truly thrown me away and I had already gotten that treatment before I even said anything. There was no reply and the conversation died there.
That rape happened that night and this boy having realised that he had gotten away with it as there was no repercussions decided to continue. Bidemi raped me every opportunity he got. He’d come to our house to get me once he didn’t my parent’s car outside the house.
My paternal grandmother lived with us but there was so much bad blood between her and my parent, she didn’t look out for me and would rather spend time with her numerous visiting cousins. My older sibling who’s 8 years older, considered me more of a nuisance and every opportunity she found to ditch me and go about her own business, she took it. (I understand now that it was mostly what happened with children with a huge age gap). This boy came to our house so much that the gardener noticed. Especially the day I was playing outside the block, jumping into the mango and fruit leaves that the gardener raked together, when I lifted my head and noticed him coming out and looking across the street to my block. My parent had gone out and I knew he was coming for me.
I immediately ran into the upturned water tank outside the block and hid. The gardener must have clocked on when he came and started asking him where I had gone to. The gardener said he didn’t now and he went upstairs to our apartment to look for me and came back again and then left. I was about 7 years old by this time but when the gardener came to tell me that he was gone, he saw and I realised that I had wet myself in fear. From that day, whenever he could, when he caught him trying to take me with him. He would do whatever he could to protect me but sadly it wasn’t enough. When I was close to turning 10 years old, he had become so emboldened that he had now taken to actually coming into our home to molest me. My only safe haven from him was no longer safe. And another event completely shattered whatever was left of my childhood. I had become quite precocious by this time and my sibling who was now 18 had started to have boyfriends.
With an overtly strict parent and a near absent father, my sibling took every chance she had to sneak off with her boyfriend and maybe due to my own experiences, coupled with me still trying to get affection in any form from my parent; the strained relationship I had with my sibling and maybe a desire to share misery with her. I took a personal delight in ratting her out to our parent everytime the boyfriend came over in our parent’s absence or she sneaked off to see him. So when my abuser came to our house & started to molest me (I had stopped crying a long time ago and just submitted myself) & my sibling walked in. She did nothing, just looked at us & walked out.
Bidemi panicked and ran out of the apartment and my sibling came back in; made me shower and basically said if I ever ratted her out again, she would tell our parent and I know her very well, she would throw me away (using the same words used by Bidemi years ago to mute me) and from that moment, if I ever stepped out of line, my sibling would say she was going to tell our parent what I was doing and I would immediately acquiesce. I did this mainly because I had come to believe that I was complicit to the abuse that was going on and I was the one doing it.
I had stopped thinking that I didn’t deserve it. So when he didn’t get any repercussions again from being caught in the act by my sibling. He then decided to include his immediate younger brother, Kayode, into the mix and that’s how from age 9+, my abusers doubled and every depraved thing two teenage boys could think of, that they had seen in porn or read, they practised on me. I was now being molested at least 4 times a week. In fact for my 10th birthday, there is a picture where I was asked to take a picture with all the neighbourhood children and the two of them came to my party (of course, as our mothers were best friends) and they joined the group to take photos and I was so upset, I didn’t want to take the photo and my parent in true form, yelled at me to take the photo. In that photo, it was very obvious that I was very upset while the two of them stood there, smiling.
I was being abused under my parents and grandparent noses and there was nothing I could do, so I kept on suffering until one day in school, I was in primary 5, I learnt that primary Six students were going to write an exam for a new experimental military school in Jos. I went to look for where it was and I saw that it looked very far from Lagos where me and my family and my molesters lived. So I sneaked into the exam hall and wrote the exam, hoping to pass, even though I had already written the exams for Queen’s College in Lagos and had already gotten a place. I just wanted to be as far away from Lagos as possible and I was willing to do anything to achieve that aim.
The results came out and the school found out that I wrote the exam because I passed. My school, Command Children’s School Ikeja, actually wrote the school to say that they were withdrawing me as I wasn’t meant to have written the exam but the school wrote back that if I was good enough to pass, then I was good enough to come interview for a place. Mrs Ojo, a teacher, whose daughter didn’t pass told me that I wouldn’t amount to much, I was so shocked by the venom of her words that I cried to my parent&in one of her rare moments, she went postal on the teacher&made her apologise to me.
That also helped in getting her to say yes to letting me go to the school. With much pleading to my dad, who didn’t want me to go too far from him. I was allowed to go for the interview and I don’t think I had ever prayed so hard for something.
I passed the interview and that’s how I became a student of Air Force Girls Military School Jos and was finally able to break away from almost 10 years of molestation. Going to Jos wasn’t all rosy. I was severely bullied and because I developed through puberty very early.
I was already wearing a C cup bra size as a 14 year old. I was also molested by two teachers in the school. One, an other ranks personnel who taught us marching on the field and the other, a youth service teacher who had come to serve in our school. Having the size of my breasts being announced in school at every opportunity by one of the female officers didn’t help and drew very unwanted attention to me.
I went home on holiday and refused to go back to school (we had moved house thankfully at this point) unless my parent did something and again in a rare moment of protecting me, she wrote the school and promised to sue the school if my body was ever referred to again by the officer. I remember the commandant, H. R Garba calling the officer and myself into her office and showing her the letter and telling her to back off. It worked but the damage had been done. I learnt to hide away, deep into my books.
I was smaller and often ill, so the only weapon I had was my intelligence. I learnt to avoid places where a man could try to take advantage of me and also to fight dirty with my words. I believed that something was really faulty in me and that I deserved every molestation that happened because I had to be an evil person, if not, how could God watch my innocence be stolen away from me like that? I finished school.
Buried all my pain deep down and had a stupendous rage towards my parent. There came a time, we couldn’t be in the same room. She’s still best friends with her friend so we still had contact with her children. Bidemi tried to convince me that we had been in a relationship and would smirk at me every opportunity he got. I never called him ‘brother’ (a cultural deference used for anyone older) and wouldn’t change no matter what anyone said.
I would snarl at him in the rare moments I was alone with him. Yet I somehow kept things together when I went to visit the family, deliver a message from my parent or just to see Yejide who was my friend then. So nobody knew a thing. I went to university and started having sex and I told myself that at least I was doing it on my own terms and not being forced.
Everything was buried deep down. I had manic moments of energetic joy and I would talk non-stop and then I would crash and have really bad moments of feeling worthless. I didn’t understand it and didn’t have anyone to explain my feelings to, so I wrote them out in poems, teaching myself to only put in glimpses of my rage &pain &bottle the rest. Then my beloved father passed away &I tried to mend fences with the only parent I had left. We still didn’t talk about the things that had happened &I believed that I could sweep them under the carpet.
In 2004, I got the opportunity to come to the UK to do my masters. A few weeks to me leaving, Kayode, who had now become some type of pastor, came to our house and apologised for hurting me. He said he had been young, foolish and Bidemi who was older, had basically invited him to come fulfil every sexual fantasy he could think of. I didn’t cry or say anything then so he had believed that I was enjoying what was happening. I was saved from saying anything back by the arrival of my parent but I remember I was hot with rage.
I came to the UK and started studying and working. Then one day, at the university, there was an information drive on sexual abuse at the University of Bolton. I stopped at the stand and by the time the lady finished speaking, everything I had buried, started bubbling to the top.
After several severe chronic depressive states, I was diagnosed with chronic clinical depression and it was at my consultations with the psychologist that I first ever confronted what happened. I was almost thirty. I’ve been finally dealing with what happened to me, also dealing with the health issues that later on got me. Dealing with the rage bubbling within me. The love/hate relationship I had with my parent as I blamed her for everything that happened to me as a child even though she had no idea.
Then I got really hit with a cluster of debilitating illnesses. I couldn’t work full time, moved house and was going into hospital a lot. In 2017,shortly after my 40th birthday and Christmas. I was at home, very unwell, going through a health crisis, with no real idea of time or day, my bell went and when I managed to drag myself to the door, I thought I heard the man identify as one of the guys who came to service the apartments. I buzzed the door open and was making my way back to bed as I usually did when they came to fix anything and I was unwell; when the door opened and I was hit on the head from the back and I blacked out.
I remember coming to with this man on top of me, in me. I was too stunned and weak to shout and all I could think was not again. Why me? I blacked out several times and finally I came to, when the cold water of the shower hit me. He had dragged me into the shower & started to wash me. I could see that he wasn’t one of the maintenance men. He was silent through out & I kept trying to commit his eyes to memory but I was mentally fatigued.
He finally said “fucking nigger”. I must be blacked out again because I have no recollection of when he left. I don’t know how long I was in that shower for, it could have been days or hours. I finally managed to drag myself out into my bed. I stayed that way till I started to feel better days after. I didn’t see the point in telling the police because I’d been in the shower. I managed to tell my best friend, Bukola and her brother Abbey and his wife Petra. They were very supportive and encouraging . I decided I didn’t want be a victim and I decided I was going to push through. I really tried, then my parent informed me that she was coming to visit.
Every painful thought of worthlessness came back and I crashed. I called the hospital and was given an emergency appointment to see a psychiatrist, who gave me medication to numb me for the visit. My parent was with me for 6 weeks and when going through the period of oblivion became too much for me, especially when I found out that she was still friends with her best friend and attending their family events despite her knowledge of what had happened. I tried to explain the wound in my soul to my parent but she couldn’t understand it.
I was told that it was too late, nothing could be done, I should have spoken up, to forgive and forget and move on. For the past two years, I’ve been going through therapy in several forms. My damage is deep. I still have a lot of rage. I can’t deal with my parent emotionally because I always end up in a dark place. I’m trying to put the darkness away from me. I connected with Kayode Atobatele and we started the Shaniqua/Ramota/Monsura skits, I used them as a retreat for my mind. I don’t sleep at night, when I do sleep, I have two nightmares.
Always the same. The first of my rape as a 5-year-old and the second of my rape as a 40-year-old. Every day. I’m far from healed but I’m pushing on. I don’t wish for sympathy. I am a survivor. However, since I’ve been in contact with accounts of rape, I keep returning to the dark places in my life. I react badly to any presentation of abuse. I struggle to breathe sometimes, the weight is crushing.
And when I see people question victims of rape and ridicule them. I feel raped again and I spiral again into darkness. A few people already know of my story and as I said earlier, I had initially planned on waiting till much later in my life.
However, the silence is crushing my soul and I believe that the time to tell my truth is now, whether people agree or not. And most importantly, to share that with regards to this horrific violation, it may take even the most eloquent of people, years to be able to speak up. As its taken me. The damage is truly deep and we should never be blamed.