WARIF Survivor Stories
Welcome to the WARIF Survivor Stories Series, a monthly feature, where stories of survivors of rape and sexual violence are shared to motivate and encourage survivors to speak their truth without the fear of judgment or stigmatization and to educate the public on the sheer magnitude of this problem in our society. The Women at Risk International Foundation (WARIF) is a non-profit organization set up in response to the extremely high incidence of rape, sexual violence, and human trafficking of young girls and women in our society. WARIF is tackling this issue through a holistic approach that covers health, education, and community service initiatives.
WARIF aids survivors of rape and sexual violence through the WARIF Centre – a haven where trained professionals are present full time, 6 days a week including public holidays to offer immediate medical care, forensic medical examinations, psycho-social counseling, and welfare services which include shelter, legal aid, and vocational skills training. These services are provided FREE of charge to any survivor who walks into the Centre.
KIDNAPPED, RAPED, AND ESCAPED DEATH
My name is Obianuju* and I just turned 26 years old. I celebrate life each day with gratitude and hope because not many would have survived the ordeal that I passed through earlier this year.
It was a weekday, the same as every other where I close from work and hurry to board a bus so I can beat traffic and arrive home early. I boarded a bus heading to my destination, it already contained three passengers – two women, and a man. I sat down and the journey began but that is all remember. My next conscious moment was waking up in a forest to see the faces of fierce-looking men armed with all sorts of weapons. I was confused but quickly figured out the situation I was in. I had been kidnapped. Frightened, I looked around and saw several other people all lined up in a row; I counted 25 before I lost count from weariness. From what I observed, some looked like they have been in captivity longer than others. Shortly after, five middle-aged women brought us food, a black substance in a bowl with dirty water that tasted like soil. This was brought to us twice daily throughout my captivity. Meanwhile, my phone had been seized and the kidnappers had contacted my parents for ransom. Fear gripped tightly at my heart with every moment I was awake. I wept uncontrollably and questioned the reason for my existence.
After about a week of my being in captivity, one of the abductors demanded that I followed him. This was the first time I was spoken to since I had been captured, I thought, ‘was I about to be set free? How were my parents able to raise the ransom? I got up quickly and followed him as he led me to the camp leader’s den. It was inside a neatly arranged cave, and the said leader sat calmly at one corner of the ‘room’, eyeing me as I walked in. He offered me a seat and fruits from a platter in front of him. After I sat down, he told me that he wanted me to be one of his wives. ‘Wife?’ this could not be happening! As he got up and moved close to me, I also got up and backed away quickly. His once calm demeanor suddenly switched, he got angry and shouted a command at his attendants outside to take me away and waste me. I began to cry and prostrated in front of him, held his legs, and began pleading for mercy; he would not listen to me and kicked at my hands to let him go. I held on with all my strength as his boys ran into the den and tried to drag me away. After a brief struggle, I heard him tell the men to leave me. Alone with him once again, he ordered me to take off my clothes and with shaking hands from the fear of a near-death experience, I did all he bade. He raped me until he was satisfied.
The camp leader continued to have his attendants bring me into his den where he rapped me continuously throughout that week. It was the worst experience of my life. I noticed that 5 other women were also taken in to meet him occasionally, and so it became a routine for the camp leader to have his way with me. This new position I found myself in enabled me to take walks around the camp to stretch my legs and observe the surroundings, sometimes I would go deeper beyond the cleared area into the forest. Not long after, one of the older attendants was assigned to watch me and go with me whenever I went on these walks. This continued for the next 3 months.
The answer to my prayers came when on one occasion during our walk, this attendant told me that he was going to help me escape. How? What would he tell the leader and others? I asked him. He told me not to worry about all that, as he had it all figured out already. I began to cry and thank him profusely. He then took me through a different path and ferried me across a river where he handed me over to a hunter on the other side, leaving him with some instructions. The hunter explained that my abductors might launch a search for me, so he hid me in his house for a week. Thereafter, he took me to a nearby village and put me on a bus, to the next town. From there, I was able to board another vehicle to Lagos and found my way home.
My parents wept for joy on seeing me despite looking lean and sickly. They had earlier reported the case, so I was taken to the police station to report that I had been found. I narrated my ordeal and all who heard it said I was lucky to be alive and that it was a miracle that I made it out of the kidnapper’s den.
I was referred to the WARIF Centre from the Police Station. At the WARIF Centre, I was medically examined and treated. I also received to psycho-social counseling without paying a dime! The counselor was very helpful, and thus, I commenced a healing journey that I am most grateful for. I believe that this is the beginning of a voyage to greater things, all thanks to the WARIF TEAM!
* Real name of survivor changed for confidentiality
Dear survivor, please know that you are not alone, and it is not your fault. Help is available. If you have been raped or know someone who has, please visit us at:
The WARIF Centre
6, Turton Street, off Thorburn Avenue, Sabo, Yaba.
or call our 24-hour confidential helpline on
For questions or more information please contact: email@example.com