In my fourth year at the university, I had what may qualify as my scariest life experience.
You see, year four is that dreaded year in medical school that your senior colleagues attempt to mentally ready you for. It is nicknamed the toughest year in medical school; the year that when you get past you are certain you will survive medical school. In fact, anything life brings your way.
It is the year of Pathology and Pharmacology. Pathology is so broad you can be overwhelmed especially toward your professional exam. Pharmacology, on the other hand, can be hard to recall, and the poor test scores can double your doubt that you will eventually pass.
From the first day of my fourth year, I began to work hard. I listened attentively during lectures, read at night in my room, and sometimes in the classroom. It was on one of those nights that I almost got raped.
A lot of my course mates read in the classroom at night. On this particular night, I assumed they were going to be there too. I didn’t call anyone to confirm before packing my bags and heading out to study.
It was our classroom. A small class in an isolated part of the hospital, and situated opposite the mortuary (Not to worry, that was the least of our concerns). There were aggressive mosquitoes to combat with, and it was for this reason that my course mates had to find an alternative classroom to study in, but I didn’t know of this.
On that night, I arrived to meet an empty classroom. Not a single person was present. The classroom was lit, as it usually was.
I must have arrived at about 8 pm. On meeting the empty classroom, I thought to wait a while, to charge my devices, and see if some of my course mates would turn up.
“I will go somewhere else at ten,” I decided, “if no one else comes tonight.”
It was a small class like I said. With minimal room for movement, and the windows were barricaded. There were two doors, however, both on the same side; one in front and the other behind.
I was seated in front, by the window, and opposite the front door. Then I heard some movement behind. A shuffling of feet. I turned but didn’t see anyone.
The first alarm went off in my head: It is time to leave. I began packing my books and shutting down my laptop.
Then he walked in through the front door. I stilled myself and wore a calm facade. He walked toward me and sat beside me.
I can’t remember our conversation or if there was one. Next thing I remember, we were standing in front of the classroom. I was wrangling my arms from his hands and thinking about the fastest means of escape.
He overpowered me and I lay with my back to the ground and him over me.
A lot was going through my mind. I could see the dirt on his body but what worried me more were the possible infections he carried that I couldn’t see.
I may have pleaded with him and tried to distract him. I may have screamed also. I’m not sure.
While he held me, he attempted to remove his trousers and my jeans.
Midway, he released my arms and apologized to me.
“My mum must be up praying for me this night,” I thought.
I was more concerned with leaving the classroom than listening to him, but I still had to be calm. He could change his mind.
We walked toward the hospital, as I desperately sought where to go. I lived in an apartment in Aluu, a community close by. I could not go home.
I was eventually able to ward him off, and when I couldn’t find a good place to read in the hospital, I went to the house officers’ quarters.
It was a frightful and emotionally traumatizing night.
Rape is defined as sexual intercourse without the expressed consent of the victim.
It is a hurtful experience; one capable of affecting the victim physically, emotionally, psychologically and socially.
Although what I had was a near-rape experience, I vividly remember the aftermath.
I earlier loaded my system with caffeine to help me stay awake, but I dozed mercilessly afterwards, up until morning.
I didn’t find the friend whose room I hoped to stay in and ended up sitting outside in the quarters’ lobby.
Thankfully, I found a chair and table to sit on or someone was kind enough to give me one. I don’t remember. I was emotionally and psychologically worn out.
“What would you have done if you were raped?” a friend asked me when I relayed my ordeal to him. I listed a couple of things and he said, “Oh, you know what to do.”
As rape can happen to anyone and at unexpected times, I thought to share a few of the things I know should be done after a rape incident, amidst the confusion and pain.
1. Go to the hospital
Don’t wash. Go to the hospital the way you are after the event. On the same day of the event. Washing erases the evidence your doctor may need.
In the hospital, you will be examined and comprehensively managed.
Here are some things that will be done:
- Important investigations,
- Treatment of any injuries,
- Administration of emergency contraception,
- Post-exposure prophylaxis against HIV/AIDS,
- Administration of anti-hepatitis B virus immunoglobulin,
- Prophylactic treatment against other sexually transmitted diseases,
- Counselling and follow up.
2. Report to the appropriate authorities
Most persons after a rape incident are reluctant about reporting to the appropriate authorities. This may be explained by shame and fear of being judged and or victimized. But this should not be so.
Rape is a criminal offence in Nigeria and there are laws guiding it. It is important to get acquainted with the law to ensure that justice is obtained and duly served to the perpetrators of the wicked act.
Did you know the penalty for rape in Nigeria under the Criminal code is life imprisonment and a maximum of 14 years imprisonment under the Penal code?
Know your rights and enforce it.
3. Tell your story
Reporting the incident can be hard and choosing to tell your story even harder.
But regardless of the events surrounding the incident and the outcome, it’s important that you share your story with others. You never know what they can learn from your story.
“We are not what happened to us in the past. We are who we choose to become by either rising above the events or letting them put us under.” – Annie Ejiofor
“It’s important that we share our experiences with other people. Your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else. When you tell your story, you free yourself and give other people permission to acknowledge their own story.” – Iyanla Vanzant
“When we share our stories, what it does is, it opens up our hearts for other people to share their stories. And it gives us the sense that we are not alone on this journey.” – Janine Shepherd
What are your thoughts on rape? In your opinion, what can be done to halt the increasing incidence of rape and to help the victims?
Some organisations online that can provide assistance with rape:
1. Mirabel Centre, a project of Partnership for Justice where rape and sexual assault victims can access free forensic medical and counselling services.
2. International Federation of Women Lawyers, FIDA, a non-governmental, non-profit organisation made up of women lawyers, with an aim to enhance and promote the welfare of women and children.
3. Women At Risk International Foundation, WARIF, a non-profit organization incorporated in 2016 in response to the high incidence of sexual violence, rape and human trafficking occurring amongst young girls and women across Nigeria.
Pps: Know more of these organisations, have more information that can be of great help? Please leave details below. Thank you.