Friday, 22nd September 2023

Oluwatoyin Falaiye: My book will encourage victims of trauma to find healing

By Esther Ijewere
10 June 2023   |   4:27 am
My childhood was bittersweet. I had some sweet experiences as a child before the trajectory of my life changed when I turned age 10 and got raped. So yes, discovering my purpose a few years ago made me understand that everything about my childhood was preparing me for the life that I live now.

Oluwatoyin Falaiye

Oluwatoyin Falaiye is a dynamic woman on a mission to heal the world, one person at a time. With a clear mandate to inspire individuals to evolve into their best selves, she brings a wealth of experience and diverse talents to her work.
As a trained lawyer specialising in corporate and commercial law, gender advocacy and human rights, Oluwatoyin combines her legal expertise with a passion for healing and wholeness. She serves as a healing and wholeness coach, speaker and inspirational writer, guiding people towards clarity of purpose, personal growth and finding meaning in their pain.
Founder of the Jewels Hive Initiative, a non-profit organisation, Oluwatoyin creates a safe space for victims and survivors of sexual abuse and gender-based violence. Through this initiative, she offers support, empowerment and healing resources to those in need.
In addition, Oluwatoyin is the CEO of The Vulnerable Inspiration Company, a holistic hub for coaching, mentoring and storytelling. Through her books and blogs, she uses her own experiences to inspire, motivate and encourage others to overcome trauma, find healing and fulfill their purpose.
As the Convener of the Supernatural Woman Network, Oluwatoyin leads a prophetic and intercessory ministry that empowers kingdom-minded women with a passion for God and a hunger for supernatural encounters.  Her book, Beyond the Abuse shares the compelling survivor stories of nine women, offering hope and raising awareness about the impact of sexual abuse. Her recently released memoir, Diamond in the Rough, chronicles Oluwatoyin’s journey through adversity, including pain, trauma, abuse, betrayal, failure, grief, loss, miscarriages, depression and even suicide attempts. Through her story, she inspires others and offers a beacon of hope for those facing similar challenges.
In this interview with Esther Ijewere, she shares her inspiring story and ultimate desire is to empty herself of all she has to offer, leaving behind a legacy of transformation and healing as she fulfills her divine purpose.

Childhood influence
My childhood was bittersweet. I had some sweet experiences as a child before the trajectory of my life changed when I turned age 10 and got raped. So yes, discovering my purpose a few years ago made me understand that everything about my childhood was preparing me for the life that I live now.

Born in the village and then brought to the city to live with a relative had me treated to a beautiful life away from my dusty little village. I saw beautiful scenery with television and streetlights for the first time in my life and I was giddy with the excitement of a seven-year-old. But my life took a downward slope at age 10 when I a neighbour’s son raped me and then two years later when my adopted father began to molest me. That abuse affected my self-esteem and other aspects of my life even in adulthood.

Inspiration behind Jewels Hive initiative
I had a strong urge to break the silence of being sexually molested by my adopted father for seven years and how nobody talked about it in the house. It was a shock to see that even as of 2018 there was still a huge silence culture about rape, abuse and domestic violence, especially from close family members. More so, the silence had done much more damage to my life leading to low self-esteem, depression and suicidal attempts and so when every attempt to take my life failed, I made up my mind to live and I went public with my abuse story 23 years after it happened. The response from women and young girls reaching out to me and sharing their stories of pain and abuse and the effect it had on their mental health inspired me to start Jewels Hive Initiative as a safe space for survivors of abuse.

The journey so far
It’s been a fulfilling journey with its good and bad moments. I must say that it has not been easy because most of our activities have been self-funded. Also, having to listen to survivors share their stories and soak in the details, taking cases to authorities and fighting for justice for victims and survivors get overwhelming sometimes but overall I find joy and fulfillment when we get justice for some survivors either by way of the arrest of a perpetrator or just taking them through counselling and therapy; and knowing that they are getting better, I can say the journey has been worthwhile.

We encounter many challenges. For instance, not getting shelter survivors and we have to helplessly watch them go back to the place of abuse. As an NGO, we have a long-term goal of having a shelter, which will have dormitories, a vocation centre, a therapy lounge, a sick bay etc. for our survivors. We also have the challenge of a lack of funding and support even though we have made several applications.

There are also challenges when some survivors plead on behalf of perpetrators especially when it is a close relative like a father and that leaves us handicapped but sometimes we insist that a case of abuse, rape or domestic violence is a crime against the state so we proceed regardless. It is also a very herculean task to penetrate government-owned schools to carry out our advocacy work; we meet with a gridlock from some schools. Nevertheless, we find ways of driving conversations around abuse and changing the narrative as we continue to break the silence culture and get help for survivors.

How her work has inspired other women around her
Many women and girls have been tremendously inspired to break their silence not necessarily to sue an abuser in a case where the abuse has happened for a long time but also inspiring them to heal from bottled-up pain and trauma and break away from the shackle of stigmatisation and victimisation. Women are also inspired to forgive themselves, as these pain and trauma were never their faults. They also find the strength and courage to seek therapy or start their projects to reach out to people in their sphere of influence. I see some of our survivors thriving and finding the purpose in their pain and that gives me immense joy.

Other projects and activities
At the NGO we have the School Awareness Programme on Sexual Abuse (SAPSA); Conversation Cafe (Unburdening); “Hear Word” (Road walks and market rallies among others). I am a lawyer by profession and this has helped with my work with gender advocacy and human rights.  I also carry out other activities through my other expressions like the Vulnerable Inspiration company, which churns out inspirational books like Beyond the Abuse and Diamond in the Rough, my recently released memoir.

I also run the Thrive Mentorship Hub, a healing, wholeness and purpose hub that encourages people to become their best version. Aside from being an author, I teach, speak, mentor and coach people to heal, become whole and live a life of purpose.

What she enjoys most about her job
I love to see people inspired to rise out of dark situations that life, pain and trauma have pushed them into. I enjoy the fact that people see how I am determined to not let pain and trauma stop me from becoming who God has called me to be and this motivates others to do the same. It gives me immense joy to see that people are getting healed, speaking up and finding purpose from pain.

Three women that inspire her and why
The Life of Oprah Winfrey inspires me deeply because that is one woman who took the lemons that life dishes her and turned them into lemonade. She is thriving today as a phenomenal woman globally.

The same goes for Joyce Meyer who is walking in God’s purpose for her life despite being a victim of sexual abuse from her father. Mrs. Ibukun Awosika inspires me to aim for the stars and beyond. There are others like Mrs. Dayo Benjamin Laniyi, Mrs. Jumoke Adenowo and more. Looking at these women, I know I can become my best version despite how life treated me.

Inspiration behind her new book 
To be honest, it was God! I never would have written a memoir in my 30s because I felt memoirs are written when one has accomplished so much in life. But God instructed me to put my story out there mainly because we do not have many relatable stories of pain and trauma told in its most vulnerable state.

‘Diamond in the Rough’ is my life in a book; my journey of pain, trauma, abuse, betrayal, failure, grief, loss, miscarriages, failure, depression and suicide attempts and how I am thriving through them all.
I hope that it will create awareness that you are not alone in adversity and it will bring hope and healing to anyone who may be going through similar situations. It will also rekindle faith and an unwavering determination to surmount challenges.

How to support children living in abusive homes, and women who endure domestic violence
The best support to give to a child in an abusive home is to rescue them safely. Abuse damages some people for life. We must also teach children sex education early enough so that they know when to speak up. However, abuse is beyond sexual as I suffered physical, verbal and emotional abuse that messed up my self-esteem. Children in abusive homes should be handed over to a shelter or the government. We must also teach them to speak up!  I was told I would die if I spoke up but now we know that’s all a lie. You won’t die; speak up so you can get help.

For women in domestic violence, my appeal to you is “leave to live”. Most abusive men in marriages are narcissists and these traits for now do not have a cure. Leaving the place of abuse is not the end of your life. You can live a fulfilled life outside of a violent and abusive marriage and no! You can’t stay because of the children; that excuse is no longer tenable because the children who grow up in abusive homes become dysfunctional and traumatised. So, please leave and seek help, therapy and counsel.

Being a Woman of Rubies
Just like the Diamond in The Rough that I am, I have been able to turn my pain into purpose.  Like gold, I have been refined in the fire of life that didn’t burn me but has moulded me into such a strong, resilient and purpose-filled precious gem. I now know full well that my life is not mine but wholly surrendered to the will of God with a mandate to heal my world one person at a time.  I have indeed been polished by pain and what you see is a diamond shining brightly through the rough. That makes me a Woman of Rubies.