‘How I was sexually assaulted at age 11’
How are you?
Very well, thank you.
Thanks for finding your voice and having the courage to share your story with us. Can you start from the very beginning?
I never imagined I would be here telling this story but here I am. A few years after my father’s death, his clinic and other businesses closed down. The paper mill company my mother worked with started to have financial issues. It was the only paper mill that sustained our livelihood. She carried the burden of caring for our family when my father passed away. Mother comforted us with the words of God and the church became our safe sanctuary those years of widowhood. So when the paper mill was about to close down finally, my mother moved us out of that town to seek a better life and employment opportunity. We relocated to Lagos State. We settled into a new life at a suburb of Lagos city with almost nothing: life was different from where we were coming from. Mother was eager to introduce us to the church she had found; she said its teachings and traditions were structured in the ways of the Bible. She thought she found one when she picked this very popular Pentecostal church (then regarded as one of the top three Pentecostal churches in the country) as our church and spiritual temple.
What was your relationship with the pastor?
The church and the Pastor were pretty much all we had in the suburbs we lived; we did not know anyone there so the pastor and church members became our family. Mother had no reason not to trust the pastor and other “righteous members” of the church. So every Sunday and midweek, we religiously attended services. My family was also involved with activities of the church as set forth by the church’s administration. We had no reason not to trust any member, especially the Pastor. He was God on earth and regarded so by the congregation.
How did the deliverance session come about?
The Pastor made people believe his own area of specialty is deliverance and casting out demons, he’d even gone to the market square to bring one mad woman as one of his projects, he kept her at the church basement. Deliverance services were scheduled for a few days of the week and conducted by the Pastor. There were also special and private deliverance sessions. Deliverance services were when believers came into the church, conducted loud prayer sessions, then withdrew within themselves, speaking in tongues, supposedly went into trance or what in modern religion is known as “Deliverance”.
One early morning, mom suddenly woke my older sister and me from our sleep. She persuaded us to get ready because she would like to take us to see Pastor for prayers. Her reason was that our new pastor’s prayer was better than the old neighborhood church Jelenge prayer we used to offer at my birth church: that his prayer was capable of even passing my common entrance exams. Oh! I was so eager to follow her. I hurriedly dressed and we went to church. I later realised that mother actually brought me because she’d complained to the Pastor that I was very stubborn, so he asked her to bring me to see him for prayers
On getting to the Pastor’s office, mom knocked, the door opened with two men standing in the room, an elder of the church and the pastor. He ushered us into his office and asked my mother which one of her daughters was a stubborn child. She quickly handed me over to him as she affirmed it was me. Meanwhile, the elder left and the pastor told my mom to remain outside with my sister the “gentle one”. I felt betrayed when mom identified me to him as the stubborn daughter. He was a stranger. He then took only me inside his main office as he’d of course told my mom to stay outside with my sister. He shut the door behind those I trusted most in my life at that time. I wasn’t stubborn; I just wished she could travel through my young mind then. I was mourning the death of my father, I missed my dad. I was in pain. I was in a torture of losing my father at such a young age, I was confused. I hid my pains and acted them out with my attitudes when I felt misunderstood.
After he shut the door behind my family, we were alone, just the two of us: an 11-year-old innocent baby girl and a sick nasty and fraudulent pastor, abusing and assaulting his church members in the name of deliverance. He asked me to kneel down; he removed his trouser’s belt as I bent my knees to the floor: the satanic Pastor asked if I was a virgin, during the deliverance session. I said yes. Suddenly, his dark face turned cloudy, ugly and angry. I thought to myself: that as a father, as a man of God that could do no wrong (that was how brainwashed we were about Pastors, then). I thought he should be happy for me for being a virgin.
He approached me closer and instructed me to raise my blouse above my chest, that it revealed my breast. I did and exposed my young breasts. I was 11 and about to experience a significant hormonal changes: My puberty period was within the distance of my human dignity. But as a man of God and a father figure, I did not think of what he was about to do to me when he asked me to pull my clothes up, exposing my breasts. He grabbed my breasts with his wickedly filthy hands. He began to caress them so painfully and ferociously. He was wild. I was immediately consumed by fear. The pains of him squeezing pathetically and painfully made me scream ;( thank God he didn’t cover my mouth) my innocent mother, had probably thought it was deliverance that was happening to me. Suddenly one angel (the elder that saw us arrive) rushed into the Deliverance room and that was how I was rescued from his sexual assault of my body. He desecrated my young temple; a gift privileged me by my Creator.
The Elder was shocked, ordered me to pull down my blouse, I didn’t understand why, he tried to explain things to me but wicked Pastor cut him off and threatened me after the escapade. He brainwashed me, cautioned me that anything that happened in Deliverance must not be told to anyone especially someone’s mother, otherwise, the mother would die. He then asked if I wanted my mother to die as my father died. I was very scared and gasping. My mother was the only person left for me and my siblings, so imagined how frozen I was when he threatened that my mother would die if I ever told her of the process of the deliverance. Mother was outside the door praying. I was very scared, so I did not know when I shivered and coldly told him “No”, I would not tell anyone of the experience. Not even my mother. No one.
As he threatened me I actually thought it was a vision, that is, what God told him: even though I was confused about what he did, I didn’t know he wasn’t allowed to do that. Now I know he wasn’t truly a man of God, he was just a person who used his place and knowledge of the Bible to sexually molest and assault me and perhaps some other church members. He was evil on the pulpit.
How was the way back home?
It was a quiet one, mom asked, “Tolu how was the prayer?” I said fine and didn’t say anymore. I was disturbed and afraid for a very long time. My life changed and became a hell of daily living. I kept wondering why my mother took me to that place. The burden that my mother’s live depends on me was too much to bear for me at 11 years. I fell ill because I tried very hard to suppress my feelings and my thoughts, thinking if I forgot I was even at the pastor’s office, I would not mistakenly tell my mother I had been violated by my church’s Pastor. My childhood innocence had been compromised by a beast that claimed to preach. I became seriously ill and for two days I was unconscious. I almost could not write my common entrance examination. I was a bright and bubbling pupil before the deliverance abuse by the pastor. I became traumatised and depressed… my mother did not know how heavily-laden I was. I did not tell her. The house we lived was a disgusting apartment and anxiety set in…I couldn’t concentrate. The sickness and trauma were glaring as I began to approach age 14.
As you grew older, how did the experience affect you?
I began to experience flashback moments as I grew into a 14-year-old teenager. I was distanced, alone and lonely. I couldn’t tell anyone of the heavy baggage inside me. I was going to explode with guilt and pain. Who would listen to a 14-year-old girl accused a respected Pastor of sexual assaults? Who would believe her? I would become an outcast and bring shame to my family and my mother’s death will be on my neck if I told her. These were the thoughts raging inside me. One day at 14, I reasoned that the Pastor had wanted to rape me that morning, but immediately I began to blame myself for what happened. I went into denial, rebuking myself every time my mind wandered to that morning and asking for forgiveness that I’ve sinned forever thinking in that line of a “holy man of God”. I didn’t want my mother to die as he told me: The echoes of his voice rang in my head and ear thus: “ these are never to be shared if not it’s death for your mother or do you want her to die? Her life is in your hands.” The pastor knew my mother was all I had.
The years went by fast but the anger and rage matured with each year and as I grew out of my teenage years to a full-blossomed woman. At about 29, my mother had an accident on Ibadan express road and she died. I never told her that the man of God she trusted molested me. When I was in JSS 2, I almost mistakenly told a friend saying anything that happened in deliverance must not be told and she wanted to inquire more. I quickly shut it down, I felt dizzy throughout that day, didn’t even know how I got home….my mother died without knowing and feeling my trauma and pain, inflicted on me by our so-called Pastor.
What was your family relationship with the Pastor after the abuse?
Two years after he sexually assaulted me, I was in his house when I walked into their passage and saw him caressing his own daughter’s breasts. I was shocked. I found the evil man caressing his own daughter’s breasts. She was about 11years old… I was 13. I pushed the thought aside because I felt a pastor could do no wrong, I thought maybe that was the kind of play daddies do with their daughters (mine died early).
In his house, I escaped the second rape attempt by him, because I never told my mommy of what he did earlier. Mom’s job as a nurse on Victoria Island was far from where we lived. She could not take us to her workplace and because of school for the next few months, she left us (my sister and I) in care of the pastor and his wife. I was left to live with him in those months.
But soon after mother left me in his care, he turned around and took me to church to this dark basement where he kept a nasty market mad woman. He claimed he was conducting deliverance for the lady at his church basement and said that’s where I would live, saying I was like her and we are of same category. I shivered in fear but on the same day I was rescued by a Good Samaritan and taken away that same day from the basement, and the elder took me back to his house and said he should tell my mother if he couldn’t keep me in his care.
He grudgingly kept me in his house. After slaving to take care of his children and home, retired to my room and fallen asleep, he would wake me up every midnight and, in the name of deliverance, he mercilessly beat me with his belts and shoes, curtain rods, pestle, men shoes and broom: ordered me to confess that I had a seductive spirit. The neighbours heard this commotion every night and my wailings. I was going to buy something for him one day in the morning when one of the neighbours sneaked in to ask me why I was always being beaten at night. I told them that Pastor was conducting deliverance for me those hours because I had a seductive spirit (I had no idea what it meant).
The neighbour was shocked in disbelief, so she encouraged me to inform my mom when next she visited me at the Pastor’s home.
When did your mother return and what happened next?
Thank God that the same day she told me to tell mom, mom came and I told her “mommy please take me away from here they beat me every night and say I have seductive spirit.” Mom was shocked at my comment. She didn’t tell me the meaning but that day, she took me away from that house of horror.
Did you share this experience with anyone before revealing this to your followers on Facebook?
I was 33years old before I courageously shared my anguish tales of sexual and physical abuse with my trusted eldest sister. Those sad experiences were so fresh in my memories. I cried, so intensely while narrating the sexual assault and psychological abuse by the pastor. It was an agonizing and horrible moment in our lives. I had matured and accepted what happened. I was also decided and determined not to live in denial and with guilt. I had to tell my story, regardless of who believed or who didn’t.
It is very funny that many don’t understand the trauma that comes with sexual and physical assault and ask why the victim is coming out after a long time. Some even say if the victim does not come out immediately, the victim ought to keep it forever and that’s really very ignorant. I am almost 40 years old, I feel at ease now and it’s time to come out and share my experiences with my friends, followers and other victims of sexual assaults, molestations and physical abuse by the people they trusted, especially even if it is men of God…
After I made my post, so many men and women have shared their stories with me, it just shows there is no type of assault that one is alone in, so many people have experiences and if we come to the realisation that it was not our fault, we didn’t ask to be abused, therefore, we are free of shame or guilt, we can move on. What was your road to recovery, how were you able to heal from the emotional pain and trauma this abuse caused for you?
I sought professional help and with that I was able to process my thoughts better and the pain slowly disappeared and I began to feel very confident in myself again.
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