I tried to be calm but that night was very long. So many thoughts came rushing through my mind,
‘What if I had just poured fuel on a wild fire?’
‘What if I had just made matters worse?’
‘What would my mother do?’
I knew the answer to the last question, my mother would prefer to be silent, but then, that action led her to an early grave.
The following morning there was a knock on the door. I was greeted by a familiar face; he was accompanied by 3 fierce looking police men.
‘Are you Tolani ?’ He asked
‘Yes I am’
‘Where is your sister ?’
He enquired further
My father came to the door,
‘Yes, how may I help you ?’
He asked, almost shouting.
‘Are you this girl’s father?’
Mr. Ernest asked
My father almost sent a slap to my face
‘You this stupid girl, what have you done this time?’
‘She hasn’t done anything wrong; you are yet to answer my question. Are you her father’
He enquired again
‘Yes’ he responded carefully
‘Sir, I have a warrant for your arrest’
‘What is my offense?’ He asked in a weak tone of voice.
‘When we get to the police station you would get the required information’
He wasn’t allowed to pick his phone or make a call. My sister and I were also taken to the police station. There was no school for us on that day, but, it didn’t matter, this was more important.
The investigations went on for almost a week, we had enough information to put my father behind bars for child abuse, rape and possibly man slaughter (or is it woman slaughter?), but, Mr. Ernest decided to keep the press away and he also insisted that it was in my best interest to keep the case out of the court.
I was young but I knew we had enough information to put my father behind bars but he insisted that we settle outside court instead. Perhaps because of his experience with such cases, perhaps because he wanted to shield us from the rigours of the court. Whatever it was, I had to just believe that he had good intentions.
He told us that there was a couple in Port Harcourt that was willing to adopt us. Without disclosing the adoption plan to my father, he approached him with an offer.
‘I want to make you an offer’ he began
My father paid him so much attention; he was like a sinking man holding on to a straw.
‘We would close this case if you agree to drop custody of these girls’
My father didn’t even give it a second thought, we didn’t matter to him. He jumped at the offer like a child greedy for ice cream.
He signed a few papers and we were free, he had agreed that he would not make any contact with us.
I was happy that my sister and I were eventually getting some kind of justice although I felt like he didn’t pay for his crime.
My sister and I were adopted by a wonderful family. My father kept to the terms of the agreement but I didn’t miss him, how could I? After everything he put us through.
Many years have gone by and I may never completely be free from the torment of my ugly childhood. It is difficult for me to look at any man and not recall all I suffered in my father’s house. I went on to study Law at the University of Ife, I made a silent resolve to be a voice for women and girls everywhere who experienced domestic violence. I may never find the courage to forgive my father or love any man but I am certain about one fact, I will never be a whisperer anymore.
You are wondering who I am; what is my name? You are trying to guess and you are convinced you have seen me before…I look familiar and you’re right. You have seen me before; I am your sister, your daughter, your cousin, and your mother. I am your friend, your colleague at the office and the neighbor whose muffled cries you sometimes hear; I am the acquaintance you share small talk with in Church and the woman you exchange pleasantries with while waiting outside your children’s school.
I am one of the many victims of domestic violence. Today, I tell my story for all of us who have been and still are victims. I hope my story stirs you to action. I hope it moves you to make a difference in your own little way.
My honest advice to any individual experiencing domestic violence is this; ‘Speak up, walk away, stop whispering, talk to someone, and don’t end up like my mother – patient, hopeful, long suffering but eventually dead ‘.
- THE END -
-In 2009, approximately 3.3 million child abuse reports and allegations were made involving an estimated 6 million children.
-One-third to two-thirds of child maltreatment cases involve substance use to some degree.
-Children whose parents abuse alcohol and other drugs are three times more likely to be abused and more than four times more likely to be neglected than children from non-abusing families.
-As many as two-thirds of the people in treatment for drug abuse reported being abused or neglected as children.
-14% of all men in prison in the USA were abused as children.
-36% of all women in prison were abused as children.
-Children who experience child abuse & neglect are 59% more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 28% more likely to be arrested as an adult, and 30% more likely to commit violent crime.
-A report of child abuse is made every ten seconds
-More than five children die every day as a result of child abuse
-According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2001, over 1,300 murders were committed by a spouse or intimate partners. These numbers equate to nearly four murders a day
-More women are injured by their partners than by rape, auto accidents and muggings combined.
-Over 25% of women have been victims of violence perpetrated by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
-According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, homicide is the leading cause of death for women on the job, and 20% of those murders were at the hands of their partners