WARNING: THIS EPISODE CONTAINS MESSAGES THAT MIGHT BE DISTURBING TO SOME LISTENERS – ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO MAY HAVE EXPERIENCED ONE FORM OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE OR THE OTHER.
This was easily the most difficult episode I have worked on this podcast. The prevalence of child sexual abuse is one that cannot be ignored (especially in a country like Nigeria with its burgeoning population and lax rules). Why? Because abused children grow up to become adults who may suffer from mental health issues ranging from substance abuse, personality disorders, conflict in romantic or interpersonal relationships, to eating disorders. Of all the things that can be done to you, rape is probably one of the worse because it is your body and you have to carry it along for the rest of your life; there is no escaping from it. Even when you try to physically escape from it, the body (and brain) always keep the score.
In this episode, I discussed these issues at length with a longtime friend and a lawyer – Theresa Odigie. As an author, Theresa uses her words to rescue people from grief, insecurities, or anything that poses as a stronghold in one's life. Follow her on Instagram as Theresa.odigie.
PS: We discussed a poem from Theresa’s new book, a collection of poems – Broken Porcelain. This book is a collection of pure sadness and connectedness which can be purchased on Amazon at a discounted price (for the next 10 days), courtesy of the show. Kindle version and hard copies are available.
Things not to say to a child sexual abuse survivor:
“I know how you feel.” – [This minimizes the robustness of their pain]
“It could have been worse.” – [Also minimization]
“Time heals the words.” – [There’s nothing powerful about the passage of time. Memories don’t know time]
“Tell me more details on how it happened.” – [Voyeuristic and misuse of trust. Let them offer up their story how and when they want.]
“Don’t worry, it is going to be all right, God makes beauty from ashes.” – [Certainly not biblical.]
“You need to forgive and move on.” – [I can’t even!]
Rather, try saying:
“I believe you.”
“I am glad you are talking to me.”
“I am glad you are safe.”
“It’s understandable. You are not crazy for feeling this way.”
“It’s OK to cry.”
“I am sorry this happened to you.”
Find someone to talk to. If you cannot, talk to strangers, you are not really investing in them emotionally.
Even better, find another survivor to talk to. They have lived the abuse, and are usually able to nurture another survivor.
Don’t blame yourself for what happened to you. Give that baggage away; it was never yours.
Healing is possible and a long journey, but it is worth it.
If someone confides in you, you are obligated to listen
When someone opens up to you, do not break their trust
Parents should be more vigilant and strive to create safe spaces for their children to communicate openly with them on any issues.
“Leave the Lights On” – Beth Hart (2003)
US: National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline - Call 800.656.HOPE (4673) - https://www.rainn.org/about-national-sexual-assault-telephone-hotline
Nigeria: Mirabel center - Managed by Partnership for Justice Tel: 08155770000, 07013491769, 08187243468, 01-2957816 www.pjnigeria.org, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, http://mirabelcentre.org/
Holcomb, Justin. (2011): Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault. Crossway Publishers
Child Sex Abuse: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_sexual_abuse
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