Will you join me on the Survivor’s Walk?

How old were you when you first had sex? For some of us, we would expect the answer to be when I was 16, 18 or if you are from the older generation, when you got married, were 25? Or maybe 30?

What if I told you the first time, I had sex was when I was about 8 years old? Does that shock you?

What if I told you it was with a man that was probably in his early, mid or late 30s?

What if I told you, no, of course, it wasn’t consensual because at that age I didn’t know what sex was.

And what if I told you even further that it happened in an unfinished house somewhere in the naked street of Nigeria, in broad daylight?

And what if I told you it happened more than once, and it was not until I got to the age of about 15, having lived in the U.K just over 6 years, that I began to understand, oh my goodness, I had been sexually abused!

It was not until then when I began to understand what sex was all about, that I realised oh my God, I have been a victim.  And while I don’t remember being traumatised as a child, the images stayed with me till this very moment as I type.

What if I told you even and up until two years ago, now in my late 30s, when I was watching television, and seeing a man that resembled my abuser, instantaneously, my heart skipped many beats and I jumped!

That is enough to tell me, deep within me there are unresolved issues surrounding this abuse and guess what, it did happen. It happened to me!

It is unfortunate that it is still happening to many young girls today across the world, and honestly, it is high time we do our part to put an end to these abuses because whether we believe it happens or not or whether we think it will only happen to them in the next street, in the next town, to another child somewhere,  it could happen to someone or someone’s child you know. But of course, we do not hope or pray for such a happening.

It is because of stories such as that of myself and those of the likes of Ifeoluwa Iyaniwura (authour and founder of ‘Hidden In His Strength’ book and charity) and every survivors of rape and all kinds of sexual abuse that she has worked with, and those around the globe, that  I have chosen to team up and support  her organisation as a sponsor, for the upcoming Survivor’s Walk happening in the month of April 2020 for a period of 7 days, in the towns of Ekiti and Abeokuta, Nigeria, and city of Accra, Ghana.

Won’t it be nice if young children, both girls and boys can be informed about sexual education, sexual health, how to keep themselves safe and report any issues or forms of abuse at the earliest possible time?

If I had someone to educate me at that young age, perhaps I might not have been molested, and even if it had occurred once, perhaps we could have prevented it occurring again and again.

Did you know my abuser had the audacity to even come and see me at my guardian’s home? He would ask me to lie and claim to my guardian that he was my teacher from school. He would buy me things, give me small amount of money and whenever it suited him, he would come pick me up and off we went to the unfinished house.

 “Pull down your pants.” he would instruct. “Bend down.” He would direct and do whatever he wanted to do.

I don’t even remember if it was painful, but I certainly remembered those were the first time I saw what an erected penis looked like, at age 8, what sperm looked like, It was the first time I noticed the smell,  though at the time I never knew or understood what any of this was, or what they meant!

The aim of the Survivor’s Walk Outreach by Hidden in His Strength (HIHS) charity is to ‘educate, by physically reaching out to young girls, young boys and their families in rural areas to provide the right awareness about sexual abuse, teach consent, teach healthy sexual behaviours and provide physical support for survivors in every community’

Since its inception in 2016, Hidden in His Strength has ‘supported about 300 survivors, has donated sanitary towels to over 100 girls and has empowered 5 young women to start their own small-scale businesses while studying to get a degree or a diploma’ as they discovered that to a degree there is a link between sexual abuse and poverty.

To make a change in a community, a town, a city or in a country, it takes one person to start, but one person cannot complete the entire work that needs to be done without the support of others that rise up to be a part of the vision and make a lasting change and resounding impact.

While my story may not be as traumatising compared to the likes of young girls and women I have heard about who were violently raped and molested, not even by strangers, but by men that they knew and trusted, I know that the impact of such abuse can be lasting and devastating for many.

I am asking that you join me to support this walk as we go into these villages, towns and city to create awareness and educated boys, girls, families, community so that we can little by little eradicate this maltreated of our young ones today.

If you would like to support the walk, there are many ways you can get involved. We would appreciate your:

  1. Monetary support – where you cannot reach, your money certainly can
  2. Services – if you can offer your service to us either for free or at reduced cost, it would go a long way
  3. Time – if you are in the towns or countries mentioned and you would like to be physically part of the walk as a volunteer, we would be happy to have you.

WHAT WE NEED:

  1. Sanitary towels (There is no limit to how much we need)
  2. Branded T-shirt’s and Hats for our volunteers
  3. Transportation
  4. Feeding and accommodation of the volunteers throughout the outreach.
  5. Print materials
  6. Financial Contribution

I ask that you please share this article and let’s reach as many people as possible to support.

All monetary donations can be made via the organisation’s GoFundMe Page here.

If you would like to transfer directly to the organisations bank account please message me and I would provide the necessary details or if via PayPal, please do so here: memoirs@hiddeninhisstrength.com

There is no such thing as a small donation, every penny count. So, whatever you can contribute, we would appreciate.

It is my hope that you will join me as I also join in this Survivor’s Walk.

To learn more about what HIHS does, you can visit their website on: www.hiddeninhisstrength.com

If you would like to get involve or get more information, you can email at:

thesurvivorswalk@hiddeninhisstrength.com

Please see below pictures of the last survivor walk in Nigeria.

Abi Opall

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