16 Days of Activism: Princess Olufemi-Kayode From Nigeria: “I am More Than A Survivor and My Name is Princess”
My names are Princess Olufemi-Kayode, today an Overcomer. A fifty year old who has dedicated her life to contributing to making prevention of sexual violence and make survivors of victims.
My memories fail me most times… as child time fades away. The catchiest scene is of myself and another little boy, doesn’t look like much of an age gap between us… sexually playing on a stair case away from adult eyes… must have been like four or five years old.
Where did the sex knowledge come from? This is still a mystery to me today… my memory have failed me there.
As I grew older, and began to be more knowledgeable, I can keep and recollect the abuses. As at then, didn’t know I was being abused. My knowledge of sexual ‘things’ was weird. The abuses became a part of daily living. One after the other family, neighbours, family friends… I was a sex toy.
From as young as five, I faced violence nearly everywhere, at home my father battered my mother, in the school bus, I was meat to the predators (older boys)… it was like I was a very attractive prey in the jungle.
Then in my teenage years, you think you are just one sexual youth and highly advanced in sexual ‘things’. At this time, I experienced first gang rape. This messed me up more. Then, the conflict with my sexuality, I struggled with these for a couple of years. Not really knowing what gender I belong or better relate to.
In between living within the high consequences of sexual abuses, violent relationships, highly damaged self esteem and a high risk life style. My adulthood didn’t have much difference. It was interesting to note that when good ‘healthy’ men came my way, I was never attracted to them. It had to be daring and dangerous. I had attempted suicide on a number of occasions.
Princess Olufemi-Kayode, (50)
Nevertheless behind all of the damage, danger and perilous life, I had faith, strong faith that there was more to me than this lifestyle that was leading me nowhere. I always cried out to God to help me. I wasn’t created for this. Earlier introduction into sex has had its toll on my life and people didn’t just understand it. .. my personality. I had three lovely and great children during that part of my journey. They made life such a different place for me… worth living and hoping for. In it all, I found solace in writing.
Somewhere out there, came the answer, though I searched for it from the depths of my being. I found God. That was twenty three years ago.
In my little way, I tried sharing prevention of child sexual abuse to parents around. When I see an adolescent in trouble, I could identify traits of abuse impact. As a columnist in a national newspaper in 2000, I boldly wrote about child sexual abuse and over 2000 adults responded through surface mail and emails. That marked a turning point for me. I was not the only one who was sexually abused as a child. I was not the only one who had gone through the guilt, shame, silence, confusion… feeling abnormal wanting vengeful against everyone, society, family that failed me.
In my plight, I sought God’s face and then came the call. He turned my mess into a message. In 2002 December precisely, God spoke. Finally a sense of purpose!!!
I founded Media Concern Initiative for Women and Children and began the campaign, ‘No Body is Talking About Child Sexual Abuse’, this campaign broke the silence nationwide. That’s the beginning of a new era, began working with adult survivors of sexual abuse and rape. I openly shared my experience on national television and the survivors began thronging in as well as fresh cases of abuse and rape.
Started the first rape crisis center (independent and autonomous) in the country in 2005 equipped with Victim Advocates (I being the first), 24hrs Helplines, Trauma Management Counseling, Access to Post Exposure Prophylaxis(PEP) & Emergency Contraceptive, Access to State Prosecutors, Psychosocial support.
Today, over 60,000 children impacted on one on one and their families. Over 6000 incidents reported and over 450 cases reported and 125 got to prosecution stage, about 5 convictions. Our organization has acquired protective custody for over 10 children. I am directly working with over 50 survivors across Africa. Right now, I am involved in mentoring over 30 organisations working in the field of sexual violence prevention and provision of crisis support in Nigeria and Africa.
I have seen victims turn to survivors. I have been practically involved in contributing to making jewels of trash. I have contributed and still contributing to making life and environment safe for children and women sexually. I have been there and those experiences today are employed to making it easier for others.
Helping to making the society sexual abuse free and homes safe, supporting victims to becoming survivors and raising their voices to be heard without shame and guilt, makes all the difference in my life daily. I have been attacked, my family attacked due to this work, yet I am still on track.
I am more than a survivor and my name is Princess.