My Mum Denied Me Justice-24 year Old Rape Victim
Rape is one of the most heinous crimes in society. It leaves a blot on victims who may grapple with the stigma for the rest of their lives. The condition of rape victims is dreadful as they are considered defiled and tainted.
Such were the circumstances of ”Maa Lizzy” (not her real name). ”Maa Lizzy” was first raped at age seven by one of her uncles and this continued for about a year before her nuclear family relocated to the Accra suburb of Dome-Pillar II.
According to ”Maa Lizzy”, her parents eked mere existence, and thus had only a little money to take care of the family. Her dad traveled intermittently in search of economic opportunities. Sometimes she had seen her dad only once in three months. Her mom had a little baby to nurse so that became her focus. This left her and her two younger siblings in limbo and in the end none of them could attend school.
One day whilst she was playing along the Amasaman railways, she saw her uncle returning from town and as a young child decided to go and welcome her uncle with a hug and find out if he bought some food for her since hadn’t eaten for almost 2 days.
The Uncle then asked her to follow him to his room for food and to cut the long story short, he molested and defiled her and then gave her one slice of fried plantain with a warning not to tell anyone or he will kill her parents.
”Maa Lizzy” said she bled profusely but couldn’t tell anyone. Unfortunately for her, her mother didn’t realize it, perhaps because her focus was on the newborn.
After that incident, her uncle kept defiling her at the least chance and she became too afraid to speak to anyone about it. She wept bitterly as she recounted her ordeal. Recalling the number of times she has been sexually abused, she stated that between the ages of seven to seventeen years, she’s been defiled and raped fifteen times by both known and unknown men which resulted in her contracting Hepatitis B.
Speaking to a reporter from The Ghana Report, she disclosed that she was too scared to open up on the matter because of the threats she received from her assailants. She was discharged from the hospital on January 10th, 2013; only to be raped again five days later. It all happened when a member of her parents’ church visited their home at a time she was all alone. The members of her household were away. She said, the man took advantage of the situation and raped her. At that time she was still recuperating from Bronchitis.
This particular one she managed to report to her mother after she returned from work and then told her mother all the abuses she had suffered since age 7, but shocking to her ears was her mother’s response
“my mother looked like she didn’t care and the next question she asked me was “didn’t you enjoy it?”, I was devastated, I wept and cried till I could cry no more when my mother realized I was serious and meant what I said, she pretended to be vengeful and promised me she was going to deal with the offenders, right from my uncle down to the last person, but she advised me not to tell my father, otherwise he will get angry and do his worst to those who raped me……. as a child I took my mum’s advise and never told my dad.”
To get justice, Maa Lizzy said her mother assured her of taking the rapists to the police station and process them to court. She said she felt lighter after unleashing pent-up feelings on that which was eating her up from within. Not too long afterwards, she recovered and went to Senior High School.
She said, she kept waiting for an update from her mother but never got it, only for her mother to drop a bombshell that she took money from the rapists and pardoned them. What followed this revelation was a horrendous experience for the victim who felt used and dumped.
“My mother told me that, she has taken 200 Ghana Cedis from the church member who raped me and pardoned him and it’s from that same money she used as transportation to visit me and bought me provisions, I became helpless and didn’t know what else to do”.
Many barriers also come between a rape victim and justice. Sometimes even the cumbersome process of registering a complaint is discouraging for the victims and their families, especially for the poor or marginalized communities. Support services such as legal aid are also not readily available. This then suggests that rape victims undergo untold torture, physically, psychologically and sociologically.
”Maa Lizzy” disclosed that since age seven after she was defiled she has attempted suicide on six occasions but failed in all six attempts.
“I have attempted suicide 6 times, one time I took Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane(DDT), other times I took expired drugs, and I’ve hanged on a fan before but oftentimes I abuse prescribed drugs.”
She also disclosed that she had given up on suicide and sought help from psychotherapists and now her over 10 years of suffering from depression are over. According to her, she is now a suicide prevention advocate but even to date, some members of society look down on her because of her experience and some people even tell her it’s her fault she was raped.
“Some people still look down on me because I’ve been raped a number of times and recently I heard people attribute my decision to commit suicide a number of times to hereditary but none of my family members have attempted suicide before……. I sought psychotherapy for close to a year after battling depression for over 10 years but now I’m a graduate and working, now I am a suicide prevention advocate, putting in efforts to reach the world with my story to inspire people who have had similar encounters”
Rape victims usually have fear, scary thoughts, nightmares, and a high level of anxiety or phobia.
Also, survivors of rape are more likely to commit suicide because they feel embarrassed about the victim and have feelings of self-blame. The physical impact relates vaginal bleeding or infection, vaginitis inflammation, chronic pelvic pain, urinary tract infection, unwanted pregnancy, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases just like what ”Maa Lizzy” contracted.
Socially, there is often the mistreatment of victims after a sexual assault, the victim is subjected to investigation and sometimes it may convert to mistreatment. During court trial of cases, victims suffer loss of privacy and their credibility is also challenged.
They may be abandoned by their own families or friends, face isolation, or have problems getting married, maybe divorced by the husband if already married.
There is a need to change stereotypic mindsets in society. The victim or survivors of rape are required to be supported by society, society must assure them that it was not their fault and that it stands by them. Say no to stigmatization of rape victims.