Speak up and stop the predators

UPDATE: Like Ginger pointed out in the comments, the onus should not just be on the girl and I totally agree. It is on us all. Some people are putting their money where their mouth is. #eienigeria


I read Seun Odukoya's blog and discovered that Abike Dabiri is calling on the rape victim in this video to step forward. Seun says it's not that easy to speak up, and I agree.
In my final year in University, I was harassed for sexual favors by one of my lecturers. It was not in exchange for grades and he did not threaten to fail me. Maybe he did hope to scare me, after all I was young and under his power. He was in his forties, and one of the top lecturers in the department. Of course I had heard stories about his womanizing ways, but when he showed an interest in me, I thought it was only because I was billed to be the best of my class.  

I frequently went to his office for one thing or the other, sometimes with classmates, and other times alone. That day, he called me specifically and I followed him. I left the door open but after we spoke for a while, he went and closed it. He sat beside me and told me how my intelligence turned him on and asked whether I was interested in a relationship. Confused and embarrassed, I said I wasn’t and got up to leave. He asked me to pass him some files on the floor and when I bent over, he touched my backside. Then, I wished the floor should open up and swallow me.
While inside I was so humiliated and scared, I tried to show a bold face. I glared at him and walked out of the room. For a while I avoided him, and I did not tell anyone what had happened. But I couldn’t continue missing his classes, and when I returned, he pretended that nothing had happened, smiling and chatting with me. I followed his lead, and put it behind me. I was a big girl, wasn’t I?
Although I later started talking about it when the issue of sexual harassment in school came up, I never made a big deal of it back at the University. I went to his house when his wife had a baby, and attended his mother’s funeral. I didn’t want anyone to suspect, I didn’t want to be one of the statistics. I could almost hear people asking, what were you wearing that day? Why were you alone with a male lecturer in a closed office? I didn’t want any part of that. I was the perfect victim.
Why do I say that? I’ve since come to realize that the predator’s greatest protection is the victim’s silence. Sometimes I wonder how many other girls that lecturer lured because I remained silent.
But why do we remain silent? It goes back to those questions people will ask. And it is not just people, it is authority figures, vice chancellors, courts, leaders. They will ask, "Why is she making noise, after all, he didn't do much. She should just move on. She must have done something to deserve it. We know this man, he is too respectable to do that. He is a married man with a family, why does she want to wreck his home? She’s just a bitter girl, out to destroy an illustrious career." And on and on…
Back to the video making the rounds. I’m sure the young men that gang-raped the victim and made the video were counting on society’s self righteous judgment against her as we’re seeing on blogs and social media. They must be counting on the victim being shamed into silence and preferring to move on with her life. That is their protection. 
And that is why I join in calling for the girl to report to either the police or preferably a charity that can represent her. She is the only one that can quickly identify those men. Keeping silent will not heal her trauma, in fact most therapy require you to talk about your abuse. Also, imagine if these beast are left to roam, who knows how many more lives they will destroy? They need to be identified, and their power demystified.
In a chat on FB, someone in Abia State where this happened says the news is already dying down, the view is that we bloggers are just making noise. A friend who works with Radio Nigeria says the only clear way forward for their investigative reporter is to speak with the girl, as other avenues may be to resource intensive. We can already see the Governor and School authorities ready to close the case.
So this is a call to the girl and those abused in the past or in the future. Please speak up and do not protect the predators. Stand forward and stop the cycle. HUGS.

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