According to a National Survey on ‘Violence Against Children’ in Nigeria conducted by the National Population Commission in 2014, it was discovered that one in four women had experienced sexual violence in childhood, with approximately 70% reporting more than one incident.
Most teenage girls before they became adults have been swayed or forced to engage in one sexual activity or the other either by using a threat, promising a good treat or by force.
NO means NO but it beats my imagination to understand that young girls and children who cannot think on their own have the highest cases of reported sexual abuse by people (parents, pastors, family friend, teachers) who are in a position to protect them.
On 3rd June, 2020, Nigeria declared a State of Emergency on Rape and Sexual Abuse following the hike in the number of rape victims reported daily.
The Mirabel Centre, which was the first Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Nigeria since its establishment in 2013 have handled 1300 clients who have been sexually abused/Molested out of which 80% are girls between the ages of 9 to 18 years.
The reported case of rape by Strangers /Kidnappers also exists, but 8 of the 10 cases are from close relatives and friends who should be protecting the young girls and children.
The heart-aching part is that it is not a one off incident.
Some cases started by mere look at a young girl’s tender breast, peeping at the bathroom or even a spank at her buttocks.
Here, the unsuspecting teenager does not understand the meaning of these attitudes until it turns to daily routine of sexual penetration leaving the young girl in a shattered state, some die in the process, others do not survive the trauma for the rest of their lives while very few others get the right justice for their abuser or God heals them and eventually live their best life.
So, the question a teenage girl asks is ‘How do I know I have been Sexually abused or Molested?
Sexual Abuse as defined by the American Psychological Association is as an unwanted sexual activity with perpetrators using force, making threats or taking advantage of Victims unable to give consent.
While we all think that Rape is the only form of sexual abuse, most rape cases, especially by close pals all started with other forms of sexual abuse, which the innocent teenage girl was oblivious of.
As a result of the shock, anxiety and fear, the young girl can not speak up and talk about the cases of abuse to parents and other concerned adult/agencies who can help. This will not be the case if the young girls at age 9 to 14 have understood the ways to know and tell concerned adult that she had been abused so that they can report to the right authority.
Below are the Critical Scenarios or Ways A Young Girl Can Know She have been Sexually Abused;
Just as the name implies, any form of forced contact or physical behaviour by any man or woman with the aim of arousing you sexually or done to make you perform any sexual acts you never intended to is termed sexual abuse or molestation. The following are physical contact form of sexual abuse;
1. Forced, Threat or Weaponized: In this process, the perpetrator ignores any form of resistance by the you, overpower you and prevent you from making any move. Here, you can also be blackmailed with a threat or surrendered with a weapon.
2. Unconscious: In this case, a teenage girl can be drugged, asleep or mentally unstable, the perpetrator takes advantage of her and force her to sex without any consent.
3. Compelling or Convincing: The age of consent for any form of sexual activity for a young girl in Nigeria is 18 (not 11), which is the benchmark used to determine the difference between an adult and a child. I have seen cases of rape that occur in girls within this age range because uncle promised to buy her ice cream or because he promised to get her gifts; the uncle gets the young girl entangled in such unscrupulous acts until she becomes an adult.
This form of rape is one of the major causes of prostitution and involvement in illicit sexual behaviour because the only form of sexual education she is aware of is the one uncle thought her and she lived with it all the days of her life.
Compelling a girl below the age of 18 into any form of sexual activity is called sexual abuse.
The non- physical form of sexual abuse furnishes a young girl/ a child with sexual ideas and changes your mindset
It also leads a child or a teenager to initiate sexual act among age mates.
The following are the non- Physical Contact form of sexual abuse.
– When someone forcefully takes pictures of your private parts or genitals
– When you are exposed to watching Pornography (videos of people having sexual intercourse)
– When you are forced by an adult to touch yourself sexually especially your breast or Vagina
– When you are forced or exposed to watch pictures of other people’s genitals
– Whenever sexual acts are performed in your presence
– Whenever you notice someone regularly watches or peep at you when you undress
– Whenever you are forced to take pictures in sexual poses
Report to your parents: Usually, the fear, uncertainty and anxiety experienced by sexually abused victims make it difficult for them to report cases of sexual violence to their parents. However, the best option for you, if at any point you experience any of the above listed scenario of sexual abuse by any one trusted by your parents or guardians, please report to your parents immediately.
Report to the police: Victims of rape and other forms of sexual assault find it difficult to report to the police because there is always a request to provide extra evidence that is more traumatic than the rape incidence itself.
Please note that it is advisable for you to report to the police and possibly get your abusers to sign an undertaking to avoid subsequent cases. Other forms of sexual abuse that are not rape also need evidence that you can get by recording a video or conversations when your perpetrator is not aware. This can be submitted to any agency or your parents to report cases of sexual abuse.
Report to your Church: Please report to your Pastors, Rev. Fathers or IMAMs. They are in a good position to bring your victims to Justice and can also provide a safe place for you if you live with your abuser or stay close to him.
Report to Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) That Fight Against Rape: The NGOs are not for profit organisations in every society that operates independent of governments. Cases of rape can be reported to committed NGOs fighting for rape victims and work on the eradication of rape.