A Survivor’s Prayer

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This is a survivors’s prayer

So many questions why this had to happen to me ,

If I could have just one wish granted, it would be certain to travel back in time and stop or change the situation of what happened to me.

If I had one wish, I wouldn’t have walked alone at night.

If I had one wish, I would not have dressed provocatively and enticed my perpetrators, or so they made me feel, that I shouldn’t have invited or provoked them with my indecent dressing.

If I had one wish granted, it will be that I don’t get blamed for my predicament. If I could have one wish granted, it would be to stop all these voices in my head making me think I am going crazy because of the trauma I’m facing.   I wouldn’t have to question my mental health.

If I had one wish granted, it would be that my abuser would face the consequences.

If I had one wish granted, it would be to end all forms of violence against men and women.

This is sadly the plight of many victims in our communities. Nearly 3 in 10 women have experienced one form of physical violence and about 10,000 cases of rape are approximately reported daily in Nigeria. The SGBV cases in the country is alarming and consequently destroys the lives of victims. This can only be achieved if we all work together to contribute to the fight against SGBV.

Stop looking away

The act of looking away has caused more harm than good and has continued to stifle the efforts of eliminating all forms of violence against SGBV victims.  Do you know that family that has an underaged house help who is constantly abused verbally and physically? Do you know that neighbour who constantly abuses his/her partner? Do you know that child that was forcefully married against her wish because her culture said so? Stop looking away! Take necessary steps to contact the relevant agencies including the Nigeria Police Force or NGOs in your locality.   If we are serious about ending the violence, we must learn to speak up and take action, because it begins with you.

Avoid victim blaming and shaming

Victim blaming and shaming is common. When did it become acceptable to shame the victim for speaking up? Victim shaming encourages secrecy that surrounds rape culture, domestic violence, victim grooming, emotional manipulation, and other forms of discrimination against SGBV victims. It discourages victims from speaking out against their perpetrators, thus putting others at risk of the same predicament.

The victim is never to blame, no matter the circumstances. For instance if a woman speaks up about any form of violence she has experienced, avoid asking ‘what did you do?’, ‘why did you go there?’, or ‘what were you wearing?’ It is not a ‘domestic issue’ or ‘family matter’, as is the usual parlance in this part of the world. Violence of any form is a crime punishable by law, and an infringement on the fundamental human rights every person is entitled to.

Do not endorse abusive cultures

Most cultural practices are deep-rooted in patriarchy. As a result, people are consciously and unconsciously encouraging violence against women. It is the duty of families and communities to imbibe in children values that will make them well-grounded, and not ascribe gender roles and responsibilities.

Put in Place Policies and Legislations

We must advocate and support for the implementation of policies and legislatures that punishes perpetrators of the violence against women.

In honor of the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence, and International Human Rights Day, I would like my wishes to be granted.

Support my wish, as a survivor to speak up against Sexual and Gender-based Violence. We  should take responsibility of educating against rape culture. Let’s encourage survivors to speak up and listen to them even when they do not speak .