Break The Culture Of Silence On Rape
Written By The Fabulous Kathlyn Eyitemi
A Life Coach
My name is Kathlyn Eyitemi. I was born in a tiny village in the creeks of Bayelsa. My father was a traditional ruler so there were two other wives apart from my mother and many concubines too.
I was age five when my parents divorced even though my mother was pregnant with my sister.
Even before my kid sister was born, I lived with my grandmother who had to take care of me because my mother was a student at the time. I don’t quite remember but I know that at age four I was sexually abused in my grandmother’s house by a cousin but I never told anyone. At exactly age five, I went to live with my father in a polygamous home. That was like a jungle because there were many other children from different mothers.
Those days it was common to see up to fifteen children who lived under the same roof. My father’s home turned out to be an abusive one. We the children endured the brunt of my father’s violent temper every now and then. Maybe because of the way he treated us, other relatives who lived with us treated us no less than animals too.
When I was fifteen, my mother was reported to have committed suicide from violence related incidence with her husband. I didn’t grieve for my mother. That was really bad for me. Because as I walked into my twenties, the grief of losing her began to settle on me.
The physical and verbal abuse in my father’s house continued and in my twenties I suffered constant bouts of depression because that was when I began to grieve for my mother. I suddenly became aware of what I had lost not having her in my life anymore. I had two siblings from her to look out for because they were younger.
There was a time in my life when my dad threw me out of the house because I had become rebellious and I roamed the streets for a whole year. I eventually got sick of typhoid and passed out on the streets of Lagos while visiting a reading camp, kind stranger rushed me to the hospital. I was given seven drips at a stretch before I regained consciousness. The doctors said my survival was a miracle. For weeks I was bedridden and weak. Eventually I made a covenant with God that if he let me live, I would be of use to him. And I did live. My family was back home in Port-Harcourt.
I finally met a nice young man who loved me in spite of my mess. But that was when tragedy came calling. One night while I was sleeping in my off – campus hostel in my University, armed robbers broke into my room, took everything of value I had and still raped me. That just threw me into a deep pit. Counseling options weren’t available. My pastor couldn’t help me or didn’t know what to say to me. There was no support group for rape victims. I felt like God just didn’t really want me. He was all that I had but it seemed like he left on the night the robbers attacked me.
My fiancé was supportive and understanding after I told him. We still got married. But I was in a dark place for many years. Sometimes I just wanted to die. I was suicide prone. I wanted very much to kill myself but the only thing that stopped me from taking my life was that I didn’t want my siblings to be stigmatized. I didn’t want to do to them what my mother had done to us.
I got drawn to TD Jakes messages and Paul Adefarasin too. I listened to TD Jakes messages a lot. And that helped me heal and be reconciled to the idea that God dint hate me. T.D Jakes and Paul Adefarasin spoke to women like me who had been abused, battered and left for dead.
Six years after the rape incidence, I began to feel like I was finally ready to do something with my pain and turn it to power. So I founded Sisters Interact-a Facebook interactive group for women. I just let out my pain. I splashed raw pain all over that space and to my surprise many women could identify with my issues. They began to let out their own pain too.
I figured the group could embark on a project that I held closely to my heart. I wanted to go back to secondary schools and provide mentoring and counselling for teenage girls who were as lost as I was in my teenage years. That was how the Next Generation Project was birthed. We have adopted several public schools for the project in different states of the federation. I also began to host Eve Care programs for Abused Women two years ago to give them a platform to interact on an experiential level.
In recent times I have been very vocal on the issue of rape and stigmatization, sharing my story on different media platforms to break the culture of silence on rape. Presently I am also championing a Campaign to speak out on Violence against Women because the issue of domestic Abuse is very close to home.
I was honored with the Christian Woman In Community Award this June at the just concluded Wise Woman Award which recently came to Nigeria. And I felt really grateful to God because even though the motivation for my work is not the accolades or awards, it just felt good to be honored on a prestigious platform when on the other hand I could have just been a strung out frustrated and suicide prone broken picture. But in his time, God makes all things beautiful.
There have been several challenges along in the course of my work with women and girls. But I would say that I have persevered because it feels as though my whole life process was in preparation for what I do with women today. I have evolved over the years. From an abused, depressed, suicide prone girl to a Life Coach, a motivational speaker and a role model to many young ladies and women.
One of my greatest joys is being able to help women deal with their issues as I counsel them privately or as I engage crowds in speaking forums. I have received many thankful hugs from women who hear me speak and the messages just keep pouring in as they thank me for inspiring them.
In the end I am really that little to a God who restores wasted years and makes his purpose come to pass in spite of hell’s fury.
Source: The Fabulous Woman Network Facebook page
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