Hello. What’s that in your hand?
Do you know what’s going on here?
It’s a picture of abuse.
You’re right.
Abuse is . . . the exercise of physical force, emotional blackmail or other forms of coercion. It is the unfair exercise of power over another person, leaving the victim dependent on the perpetrator and destroying the victim’s sense of self.
How about rape? Is it also an abuse?
Yes! It is a type of sexual abuse and there are other types of abuse as well.
Sexual Abuse is any unwanted sexual contact with another person. It may also be touching or looking at people in a sexual way to make them afraid or to make them feel bad.
Sexual Abuse can be either sexual assault, which is deliberate physical contact of a sexual nature, or sexual harassment, which are unwanted and repeated verbal comments or gestures of a sexual nature.
Rape is a type of sexual assault which is defined as sexual intercourse that takes place without consent. When someone CONSENTS to have sexual intercourse, it means that they want to. If you don’t have the consent of the person you want to have sexual intercourse with, it is rape.
Child sexual abuse is any form of sexual contact between an adult and a child, even if force or physical threat is not used. If the abuser is a member of the same family as the person being abused, that is called “incest.”
Tola’s parents both died in auto mobile accident when she was twelve years old. She then began living with her mother’s younger brother, Uncle Niyi who wasn’t married. One night, Tola woke up suddenly to find her bed stained with blood, her nightgown torn and badly stained.
Worse still, she was having severe pains in her thighs and vagina where the blood was coming out from. Meanwhile, Uncle Niyi was still in her room. Tola began to cry when it dawned on her that her uncle must have drugged and raped her. He even threatened to kill her if she dared told anyone about the rape.
That’s terrible!
Sometimes abuse is not sexual in nature. Physical abuse is any unwanted attack on the body that might cause an injury. If physical abuse takes place within a family, it is called domestic violence. It is important to remember that no one, not even a parent or spouse, has the right to inflict injuries on you.
Sometimes abuse isn’t physical, but emotional. Emotional abuse affects the way you feel about yourself. Often, emotional abuse relies on verbal abuse, which uses words to attack you and your self-esteem.
Wow, so all those are types of abuse? Do they have any effects?
Yes, they do: - Sadness and depression - Social stigma - Physical trauma - Sexually transmitted infections - Low self esteem
Can’t it also lead to fear, loss of trust and unwanted pregnancy?
That’s right, but is it only boys that abuse girls?
Girls can also abuse boys, girls can abuse girls and boys can abuse boys.
So you mean adults can also abuse?
Yes! Anyone can be abused and anyone can be an abuser.
When Enitan, a 16 year old student began collecting gifts of money, clothes, and trinkets from Chief Yusufu, little did she know that he had something else in mind. One day, Chief Yusufu picked her up from school and instead of taking her home as usual; he drove to a hotel in a secluded part of the state.
There, he forced her to have sexual intercourse with him and later promised her many good things and a lot of money if she could continue sleeping with him. Enitan was terrified, emotionally shocked and sad. She had no one to talk to because her mother was late and her father never cared for her.
Did you know that culture can contribute to sexual abuse?
Our culture might teach us that women’s opinions don’t matter, or that women are inferior to men.
Or, that a girl will say no when she means yes. I know that I have to say “No” to some guys more than once before they’ll believe I mean it.
Hey, we’re told that you’re supposed to ask more than once! I guess culture teaches a lot of silly things to both boys and girls, like:
- Men know what’s best for women - Women are objects of sexual fantasy - Women who dress in revealing clothes are “asking” to be abused - Women have lesser value than men - Men should ignore a woman’s opinion instead of listening to and COMMUNICATING with her
Those are myths!. Let’s look at some facts about abuse.
Facts about abuse: - Adults can sexually abuse teenagers. - Sexual abuse is very common - No one has the right to abuse you regardless of their relationship with you - Discipline does not have to involve abuse - Boys/men can be raped
- The abused person usually knows the abuser - Verbal abuse doesn’t have to include yelling or raising your voice - Rape can lead to unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections
- People who are raped are never at fault for the rape - Emotional abuse is as dangerous as any other form of abuse - Sexual and emotional abuse are often presented as love - Professionals in schools and in the communities can help children who are being or have been abused.
But what can you do in the event of abuse?
Remember that it is not your fault, and seek help and support. Also, you should: - Leave the scene and go to a safe place - Tell a trusted adult immediately - Seek medical care immediately, even if you don’t feel that you’re hurt.
- In the case of sexual abuse, do not clean your body before a medical examination. - If you have removed your clothes, carry them in a paper bag, not a plastic liner. - Get examined for evidence. You can decide later if you want to report to the police, but you can only get examined immediately.
Where can I go for help?
NGOs protecting human rights, youth or women’s centres, your parents or other trusted adults, professional counselors or psychiatrists, hospitals or clinics. If you’re not sure of where to go, you can call, visit or send sms:
SMS to 38120 free on MTN, Airtel, Glo and Starcomms - call 0802 719 2781 free on Airtel network only or visit www.myquestion.org - or Action Health Incorporated 17, Lawal Street, off Oweh street, Jibowu, Yaba, Lagos. Telephone: +234 (0) 7743745 e-mail: info@actionhealthinc.org
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