I remember how the silence I had to keep after the abuse slowly killed me. I also remember the relief I found in my relationship with God so early. That really was my rescue, yet for decades I could never find my voice on the matter. I was still afraid. Mostly, because I felt it may have been the fault of my seven-year-old self.
Somehow, fast forward almost thirty years later, I knew better and was big enough. I understood the importance of stepping up when it was time to share my story and I did in my Kemi Adetiba’s Kingwomen interview. It surprised me however, how hard it was to talk about sexual abuse after so many years, but it was such a relief, soon after came the resistance in sharing.
I faintly began tasting the shame again, that same feeling of naked “dirtiness” I had as a child, it had not gone completely. It also became clear that real stories of sexual abuse still sounded like NOVELTY. I saw headline after headline, even in broken English, this my confession, that “ dem spoil me when I be small pikin”. It didn’t feel good that it was so sensational as I was aware of how massive a plague this was. WE CLEARLY ARE NOT TALKING ENOUGH, too many children sexually abused, too many sex crimes, especially now, right under our noses.
I had to push past the inner conflict that talking about it was “unnecessary”. It was too long ago, too “oyinboish” to discuss publicly. Then of course, that talking about it now would make it seem like my family failed me as a child, but they didn’t and could never have known. I had mastered SILENCE! They were victims too. Every abuse story is different but it is SHAME that makes them complicated.
Sadly, the shame hardly lies with the perpetrators. So, I have learnt that it is time to nail shame right where it belongs. Far away from the wronged. Bringing them instead to healing, justice and freedom. We must teach every child the power of their voices. Apparently, we must teach adults too and more importantly we must learn to listen, understand and know that SEX IS NOT A DIRTY WORD but DENIAL is.