A shadow print from my past experience with rape and how I dealt with it
“They are all innocent until proven guilty. But not me. I am a liar until I am proven honest.”― Louise O’Neill
As I moved up the staircase, my legs felt like a log of wood on an infant’s head. I thought to myself what was I going to tell the counselor. I looked at the road where I came from and the road that lied ahead. I could not go back so I push myself through the staircase leading to the counselor’s office. Five feet to the office I looked back and I took a step as if to backslide through the same path I had struggled to climb. I heard the door behind me and I stood still unsure of what to say or do. Then the soft spoken voice came from behind me, “oh! Arual you are here already” I turned gently with an old age smile. She said warmly “I have been waiting for you, please come in”. I followed behind her into the office. She showed me a seat and took hers across the table. She said, “welcome again, I am so happy you could make it this time. I have been waiting for you for a while now. I wasn’t sure you were coming that is why I was about to leave before I saw you but thank God you are here now. I just want to assure you that this is a counseling session and whatever you say ends here. I am here to help you help yourself”. Silence covered the room as if to give us an opportunity to honor the dead. The counselor noticed how tensed I was and so broke the silence, “So how are you?” I was not sure if I wanted to go on with this process so I took a while to answer and replied I am not fine. She looked at me straight in the face as if to diagnose the problems with her eyes. I could not help it. Water walked down my face and I said in a shivering voice, I don’t know what is wrong … I don’t … know I began to stammer. The counselor then came in, “It’s ok: so here’s what we will do, calm down and tell me everything. Like a kunfu master she led me through a series of breath exercises. When she noticed I was a bit relaxed she said, “so tell me what seems to be the problem”. I replied: I don’t know if I am ever going to get married… I don’t know if there is something wrong with me…. As I continued vomiting my doubts, the counselor looked at me like a child looks at the mother when it is story time. Then I stopped not knowing how to continue. I thought to myself, will she understand what I am going through, many at my age or even older are still unmarried, will she really understand? I soon heard her voice like my Mum’s voice calling me out of the dream-world at 5:00am. “So tell me is it that at your age you still do not have suitors or what worries you?” she enquired. I have suitors but sometimes or most of the time I just feel like I won’t be able to make a good wife…..and other times I feel like it is best to stay on my own so I won’t be disappointed . “You know we all have our insecurities especially about marriage but tell more why do you think you are not a good- enough partner?”
I don’t know but……. I stammered, the counselor quickly came in “It’s ok Arual, you are here to seek help because you believe in some way that I can help you so feel free to tell me anything okay??”. That assured me that I had someone listening to help and not judge. So I answered, I think I am not good enough because I can not offer myself wholly to a man. The counselor pressed on, “What do you mean by that?”: I responded, I am addicted to masturbation. I looked at her face to see her reaction but she was not surprised about what I said. So I continued, I feel like this will follow me into my home and I won’t be able to offer myself wholly to my husband in marriage. I took a deep breath then observed the silence. The counselor swallowed the silence, “when did this start?” I said (unsure about the exact number), a couple of years ago. “Please tell me where you at any time or even now into pornographic movies” she asked, I replied, No ……. She push forth the interrogation, “Ok did someone tell you about it?”, I replied No… she nodded her head and noted something down like an investigator cross checking witnesses in a murder case. The counselor continued with questions, “did you read about it in magazines or on the internet?” I replied, No. She asked “Did you have a friend or some family members who involved in it?” my reply was consistent, No.
The counselor said, “I am asking all these questions to help us identify the root cause of this behavior because things do not just start up like that, something sparked the flames, and it was not properly handled that is why it got to the level at which it is now. Have you ever spoken to anyone about it or sort help?” yes I said. “So what was the outcome”, Well I got a few encouraging words for the moment.
At this point she dropped her pen, stood up moved towards a small cupboard at the right end of the office. She took out a clean glass, filled it with water and gave me. I wasn’t sure of what she was doing but I took the glass of water and placed the glass on the table half-empty. She sat down and she observed that I could not drink anymore. Looking at me straight in the eyes she said, “Aural I really want to help you. Most often the root cause of people’s addiction to self pleasure is pornography and other related issues. Through the questions I just asked I just realized that none of the general assumptions apply to you. So now I will like you to recall to when all of this started what was the main reason for you or what was the excuse you gave yourself?”
We were both silent for a while then I spoke up: I thought to myself I didn’t need a man to be happy. I thought I was not beautiful or good-enough for any one, I thought no man deserved me. I gazed fixedly into space as if to take back that moment of my life, my left hand leaned on the table supporting my head and drops of rain fell from the roof of my eyes. “Its okay Arual” the counselor pressed on. So why did you think or feel that way?
I wiped my face as if to prepare for more rain I said in a shrilled voice. I had been raped when I was completely defenseless. At this time water fell down my eyes like rain in the dry season. “It is okay Arual it is ok”she consoled me. I persisted I didn’t know what else to do, I had lost myself, my dignity and my pride and I felt I did not need a man to be happy. I felt that I could make myself happy. I felt that no man deserved me so I had to accept myself.
The counselor asked “Who did you tell about your experience and how you felt?” No one, was my response. “Do you think you have forgiven whoever did that to you? I was hesitant but finally answered, yes. The counselor pressed on, “really? Have you really forgiven??” looking at me with eyes that demanded more than a yes. Well I think I have forgiven, I dropped my dreams of becoming a lawyer to make men pay for their crimes and I have a good number of male friends. The counselor looked at me like a mother who didn’t believe the story told by her child. Then she said, “why haven’t you allowed any man to close to you?” I interrupted like a child struggling to defend my story but I have close friends. “But you have not said yes to any of your suitors” she continued. Well I am not ready, I am not sure, I am not ……
“Its ok Arual. I just wanted to point you back to what I think could be the main reason for the confusion in your life.
Most often when there is an incident of rape or sexual abuse we are quick to go to the hospital and check if the victim is infected then we start filling for a court case against the perpetrator of the act. But we forget to seek the psychosocial help for the victim. Leaving the victim psychologically and socially crushed which results in the victim settling down for masturbation, drug abuse, same sex affairs, violence and other related behaviors. I hope in some way that through this conversation you have been able to identify the problem area in your life?” I nodded in agreement. “So what do you think you can do now??” she asked, I took a deep breath and said I will have to revisit that experience of my life and really forgive the person not just for him but for myself too. That’s where I will begin from. The counselor gave her remark “I am happy to hear you say that and am sure you know that won’t be easy so please in case of any difficulty you could always come back for us to look at it together”. Thanks I said feeling like the heavy burden had been lifted up my shoulder.
At that point, the office phone rang, she picked the call and I thought to myself how amazing it was that I came here with a worry but I had discovered the real issue and I was sure if I resolve this then my worry will be no more. “Am sorry for that distraction the counselor said breaking into my thoughts”. I smiled and said it is ok Ma. The counselor asked, any other worry? I nodded in denial. “Any other fears?” This time I was not so quick to respond …. “Arual” she insisted “Is there any other fear regarding this matter?”, Not really, I just said that there is someone I will like marry but I don’t know to how to tell him everything. “Am happy you are already thinking of someone to marry and I am proud of you for considering to tell him everything. Some people will want to move on but keep their past to themselves. But I think the best option is to tell it all, that shows that you have moved on. I will suggest that you tell him everything and if he is the right one, he will be ever proud of you that you shared your life with him”. Thank you for that assurance counselor. She smiled and said “I will try to check on you from time to time and I hope the next time we meet you will be inviting me to your wedding….”
We both smiled and I said, thank you very much for your time. She replied warmly “Thank you too Arual for sharing with me”. She rose up from her seat and came to my side and gave me a warm embrace and whispered in my ear, “Be strong”. I said, thank you Ma I should take my leave now.
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