The Impact of Sexual Abuse on Mental Health

Train A Girl Initiative held a discussion on the impact of sexual abuse on mental health. I was in attendance through Mentally Aware Nigeria Initiative.

The speakers included Bukky Shonibare, the founder of Girl Child Africa, Eva Udenyi, the founder of Shenation and an Organizational Psychologist.

In addition, Precious Gaza, the convener, and founder of TAG Initiative was in attendance. Here is what was discussed. 

Bukky Shonibare’s Story on Sexual Abuse

Bukky shared that she was raped at the age of 17. She emphasized that sexual abuse is not just penetration but also groping and unwanted advances. That had started for her then at the age of 12. She did not realize what it meant until she grew older. 

She said the sexual abuse she experienced made her a recluse. Also, she began to want to be aggressive towards men.

Another impact was that she became triggered through scents, clothing and certain names. The name “Johnson” threw her off because it reminded her of her abuser.

Emotional Numbness: Bukky said that falling in love didn’t mean anything to her. She felt hopeless for sometime because she wanted to keep her virginity but the abuse deprived her of that.

How Bukky Moved Past The Sexual Abuse

Bukky shared that her advocacy efforts were what helped her to fight back. It was through service and helping others that she also started to help herself.

Bukky says speaking out about the abuse matters. She encourages victims of sexual abuse to get professional help. 

I learned to stop dwelling on the abuse and I had to find me. I had to find the Bukola that was not abused.

Lastly, Bukky states that she learned to stop dwelling on the abuse. ‘I had to find me. I had to find the Bukola that was not abused,”. This meant that she had to forgive. To forgive the abuser and to forgive herself.

How Can We Stop Sexual Abuse in Nigeria?

Me (Isioma Ononye) at Aiivon Innovation Hub, Wuse in Abuja.

Through the talk, there were many important questions asked. A woman shared her experience of reporting her rape to the police and they told her that she should not take the case further because how will her family react to this or will she be able to get married now.

Another woman shared that she was abused by a woman and she doesn’t believe that there is enough awareness of same-sex abuse and organizations to help such cases in Nigeria.

A man discussed how he wanted to advocate for a woman whose children were raped but suddenly he was looked at as a problem for bringing it up in the community.

When I consider all these questions, many thoughts loom my mind as to what the solution needs to be. What matters is Sex Education, Open Discussions between Men and Woman about Sexual Abuse and The Proper training from the family.

There Should Be Sex Education in Classrooms

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All schools in Nigeria should have a curriculum on sex education, the implications and consequences. This matters because if this knowledge on sexual health is passed on at an early stage, it helps to spread awareness. Sex education can help to inform people from a very young age what is appropriate or not when it comes to the way one is approached and treated by others.

Women and Men Should Have More Open Discussions on Gender Violence

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More men need to be brought into the discussion on gender violence. That way, we have both genders advocating for the end of sexual violence. It is not simply a woman’s problem. Both women and men need to be speaking out against injustice and calling people out for what they know is wrong. 

Training from the Family

The way we are brought up greatly affects the way we live and function. We have to ensure that children are brought up with a healthy sense of self-esteem and morale to know what is right and wrong.

They should be raised to know that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and understand what that means.

What do you think about the effects of sexual abuse? Also, what is the best solution to stopping gender violence in Nigeria? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

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Isioma Ononye

I'm a blogger, freelance writer and news enthusiast. I'm passionate about personal development and I'm a book lover. AIso, I care deeply about feminism. My bliss is found in words that move me, nature and chasing my dreams.

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