Rape is a contentious topic as many view with different definitions according to the effect, gains and motive they have. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see the different views from law to advocacy groups (NGO), religious bodies even the law enforcement officers. We won’t put ourselves in that trap of definition because rape’s effect overrides definitions. Generally, it is viewed as a type of sexual assault that involves sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration often carried out against a person without the person’s consent or agreement (mutual consent). The first part is that it demeans the victim as it’s sometimes carried out using physical force, coercion, abuse of authority, or against someone who is incapable of giving (valid) consent, such as a person who is unconscious, incapacitated, probably has an intellectual disability or even if such person is below the legal age of consent.

Rape’s psychical effect might be few or sometimes so mild that it does not require medications, admissions etc. but the psychological effect is often overwhelming for the victims – indeed the effect can extend for a lifetime because it comes with breaking down of a persons’ sense of safety, increases sense of vulnerability, breaks down the self-image, pride of its victim, self-blaming, causes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), eating disorders, low self-esteem, substance use disorder etc. Because it is not a willing act it often comes along with hurt and injury because of the struggling that is attached to it. The effect is often severe and long term emotionally.  

The rate of rape report is increasing, sometimes the question is: are there more malaise at the heart of people or just rise because of the ability to share and have information quickly that is increasing? Rape had been with us since the beginning of recorded time including acts by Shechem son of Hamor in the old testament at the heart of these acts include Sexual Scripts – (when a woman says no means yes), victim blaming – (victim drinking too much, flirting etc.), Hostile sexism (negative view about women), biological essentialism (it’s because my hormones are going insane), objectification of women, etc. However, its often to take responsibility away from the perpetrators. There are so many questions – for the perpetrators is it about sex, trust, anger, control etc. but a fact is sure it’s an abnormal behavior and affects not only the perpetrator but also the victim.

The effect of this act brings along with it some other mental disorders that can be so distressing for the victims and their family members, these disorders are countless. This case study brings this into context Tolu, 25 years old lady serving in Lagos and living with her Uncle Mike, Uncle Mike’s Fred became friendly and started giving her gifts which she initially refused but he said “your uncle doesn’t give you things? I am also your uncle”, they’ve gone out together on a few occasions although often not planned but on hind sight Tolu can see maybe Fred planned it. With time she became free and somewhat close him. On this faithful day it was during a festive period called Uncle Mike that he’s sick and require help to buy drugs, cook etc. and willingly Mike agreed and Tolu went, after doing the chores Fred told her he needed her to help with the room also and he raped her. She couldn’t tell her uncle for days but everyone noticed something was different about her after lots of prodding she revealed what happened but the delay made evidence difficult to retrieve. Fortunately, Fred didn’t deny, which broke the friendship but damaged Tolu. In his defense, he said she was scantily dressed while working in his house and he didn’t meet her as a virgin. These are some of the reasons victims don’t talk early as it was revealed Tolu was sexually abused when she was younger by her dad’s driver. Since then Tolu has always been afraid of any man or guy that seems necessary too nice to her.

As we offer free sessions for victims of sexual/gender related violence many had been asking how do we know a rapist? There is no particular sign or symptom for rapist – the rapist can be your neighbor next door, a clergy, a physician, a teacher, an armed robber or the handsome guy in suit. The important thing is to be careful and understand that the survivor most times have no part to play in causing the assault but the cognitive and irrational thinking on the part of the perpetrator, while caregivers need to protect, and teach younger children how to protect and inform when things go wrong. Furthermore, be a friend rather than a critical bystander in young people’s lives. Rape hurts, we don’t need to add to the pain by blaming the victim, ridiculing victim or playing it down.

We can help victims by reporting assault as soon as possible, reach out to someone they can trust, let them know you are available by just being there, letting survivor know it’s not their fault, prepare them for flashbacks and upsetting memories, help with activities to reconnect with their body and feelings, we need to do more as a people, but if we don’t, the next victim can be anyone your daughter/son, your friend, or your sibling etc.

When we see victims we need to talk to our mental health experts and Clinical Psychologists (therapists) are best positioned to prevent large scale downturn in emotional health.

Let’s take care and keep safe Contact us today Diamondmoor 081 2827 6962, +234 2291 4084.