My Name is Zaynab Ismael from Kebbi state and this is my story.
I grew up in my grandparents house with my mother, because she left my father for being abusive. I grew up surrounded by love from all sides, most especially from my grandfather. He loved me to the moon and back. We were all living in relative peace, that is until when I was in 200 level in the university when my mother met another man.
According to her, it was love at first sight. He was so good to her, but I always felt uncomfortable whenever he was around me. I felt that he stared at me too long and sometimes his touch lingered. But I just tried to dismiss it as him being nice to me because of how much he loves my mum; and he always claimed to see her in me. Besides I didn’t want to tell my mum about it because I knew that if I did, she would cut him off because I was and still am her priority. I saw the way he made her happy and I didn’t want to deprive her of that happiness.
They got married four months after they met and I was given the option to either go with my mother or stay with my grandparents, but of course I chose my mother because I couldn’t bear the thought of being away from her.
Like I said I didn’t feel comfortable whenever I was around him so I avoided him at all costs whenever I come home for holiday. Sometimes I spent half of the holidays with my grandparents just to avoid him without having to tell my mum why. I guess he realized what I was doing so he decided to change tactics.
I was in school when I got a call from him around 10:30 am that he and my mum were in town. He explained his plan that entailed a surprise party for my mum as it was her birthday. So he wanted me to meet him at the venue to check if it was appropriate. I thought it was a fantastic plan; I dressed up a bit considering the party afterwards. I met him there and after surveying the place I found it to be satisfactory. After that he told me to follow him to the guesthouse where he and my mum were lodged. I was so eager to see her that I thought nothing of it.
I followed him up to their room and the moment he opened the door, the nightmare began. He pushed me inside before I could even think of running once my brain registered the empty room. In the moment it took me to get up from where he had pushed me, he had locked and bolted the door. I knew that I was done for but I still thought to myself maybe if I could reason with him. I started begging him but he just laughed a certain inhumane laugh that chilled me to the bone. He slapped me, kicked me and I fell to the ground. I tried my best to fight him off, scream my head off but it was of no use. He gagged me and raped me to within an inch of my life. He tied me up and I endured more of the same. After the first 5 times I stopped counting and I had practically turned into a ragdoll. The first time he stopped for a while, I managed to open my eyes and I saw him swallowing some type of pill. After that he just continued and continued, over and over and over all the while shouting profanities and degrading slurs at me until he tired and swallowed another pill. I lost consciousness for a while but he slapped me back to reality. No way he was granting me a reprieve from the suffering even in the form of unconsciousness.
After hours, I don’t know how many for I had stopped counting long ago. He drugged me, dressed me and took me downstairs and drove me out of the hotel. He headed towards the outskirts of town and dumped me there. I lost consciousness as he was driving off, I bet he thought I was dead. When I regained consciousness I stood up and just started walking without any direction in mind. When I got tired, I just sat down and after awhile I would get up again and continue walking. To this day I do not know for how long I walked.
When I finally thought that I was going to die, a car came by. It had already passed me but it came back. A man in military uniform came out of the car, and he approached me. When he got near me I started whimpering and crying, so he stepped back. He tried asking what was wrong and came near me again. He gasped loudly and said my name, he tried to coax me into his car but I tried to run away from him. When this happened he just carried me into the car and drove me to the hospital. On the way, he tried explaining to me that he was my cousin Umar but I was mute except for my silent tears. The state I was inhad caused me not to recognize him. He called my mother and gave her the hospital’s address.
When we got there several tests were conducted and Umar was told that I had been raped multiple times and the lack of speech was due to too much trauma. I had never seen Umar cry but he that day he cried for me. When my mother arrived and saw the haunted state I was in, she gave me the warmest hug without asking anything. She later got the rest of the details of how I was found and my test results. She took care of me untill I was discharged. I couldn’t speak for three months after that incident and I had to defer that semester. The only people who were allowed around me were my grandparents, my mother and Umar. I was not myself. I felt so used, I felt worthless and most of all I was angry. I was angry at myself for not being able to speak now, for not speaking up when I felt uncomfortable around my stepfather in the first place.
My mother didn’t know exactly what was wrong but she stopped even my step father from seeing him since I expressed discomfort at coming in contact with any male apart from my grandfather and Umar. My step father did everything he could to see me though, to get a moment with me but Umar and my mother blocked him. After some time I finally picked up the courage to speak, I told my grandfather everything and my mother’s husband was arrested the very next day. My mother seeked for divorce immediately.
I am still taking it one day at a time, but I will not be a victim. I am a survivor. I still feel broken sometimes but I am taking it one day at a time with my family by my side.