One of the things that has helped the campaign against sexual abuse is the experiences shared by survivors. When a woman shares her story, it encourages others to speak up, and that has revealed how serious the menace is and how sharing may help reduce the scourge.
Acclaimed author, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, at the just-concluded Stockholm Forum for Gender Equality, shared how she was sexually assaulted at 17 by a ‘powerful man in the media’
When I was 17 years old, I wrote a book of poetry, really bad poetry that I now hoped that nobody would ever read. But true to the delusional ambition of a youth, I thought that this was a wonderful book.
And in Nigeria when a book is published, its customary to have a book launch to introduce the book to the public and so I searched about, planning a book launch for this terrible book of poems.
There was a powerful man in the media, who I knew would help with this book launch and so I found my way to his office in Lagos and I told him about my book.
‘Will he please support the book?’ I asked.
He was very impressed he told me. While other teenagers were hardly reading at all, I was serious enough and focused enough to have written a book. He was pleasant, warm and then he got up from his desk and walked around to where I was seated and he stood behind me.
And in a move that was as swift as it was shocking, he slipped his hand under my buttoned down shirt, under my bra and squeezed my breast. I was so taken aback that I did nothing for a second, then I pushed his hands away but gently, nicely because I didn’t want to offend him.
Later that day, I broke into a rash on my chest, my neck and face as though my body was recoiling, as though my body was saying what my lips had not said. I felt a deep loathing for that man and for what he did. I felt as if I didn’t matter, as if my body existed merely as a thing to be done with as he wanted. Yet, I told no one about it and I kept talking to him, being polite, hoping he would help with my work.