Can we ever get to a place where women fight for one another before judging, attacking or criticising first?
“Do not judge or mock a pain you have never endured.” I have always pondered on this quote and how we are all guilty of it. I wish I know the author so I can ask what he/she must have gone through or saw to write it.
When something bad happens to someone, we are always quick to judge them behind their backs.
When we don’t, our famous ways of sympathising with victims of unfortunate circumstances is to tell them and other listeners how we would have reacted in such situations.
Situations we have never found ourselves in, we narrate what we would do, how we would manipulate the events to make sure we didn’t end up like the victim(s).
I remember when I was writing my project in College and I volunteered for a program in my church. The program was called Pulpit Exchange; they would send a Pastor from one Conference to another to minister there for a week. A Pastor could come from the West to East.
The church needed four youths, two females, two males to care for the Pastor because, our Pastor, the host wasn’t living with his wife and he was being sent to the North to minister.
It was God’s work and there was nothing much to do. All we had to do was cook for the Pastor and we get to eat too.
The other lady was a friend, so we would take turns doing the chores, if one person needed to go to campus.
This fateful day was my turn to stay at home with the Pastor, cook and clean. The Pastor was a nice and easy to please person, he didn’t need much or demand. As soon as he finished his breakfast, he either retired to his room to pray or sat at the dining table to study.
So, I would prepare or plan ahead for the rest of the day to have some time to myself before the evening service. Volunteering means you can’t miss the evening services till the end.
One of the Elders came to visit that day to see how the Pastor was faring. I had done it before, so I knew the drill. The Elders sometimes take turns checking in too, especially the first Elders.
I was a very private and quiet person, I hardly spoke unless spoken to. My business was in the kitchen, so I only sit in the sitting room for devotions, then to our bedroom or kitchen.
I was finishing my breakfast in the kitchen when I heard the door handle turned and the Elder walked in. I didn’t know when they or he came in. The kitchen was far to the sitting room but adjacent to our bedroom.
“Good morning, sir” I stammered. He nodded
“Pastor said the others have gone to Campus?
I nodded as I tried to swallow my cereal.
I was always nervous around him because he always found something wrong with my dressing, my hair showing under my scarf, how he saw me wearing makeup outside church or my chest not well covered.
I had discarded most of my clothing and even bought long scarfs to escape his criticisms.
He walked round the kitchen peering into everything, then he started walking toward me. He stood in front of me his shoes almost touching my toes, I moved backward till I felt the sink on my butt, he kept coming.
I shivered, I was only in my bra and towels. Only the women would come in the kitchen when they visit and that was usually in the evenings or the first day.
My spoon dropped, he picked it, licked it then scoop a spoonful of cereal and placed it near my lips gesturing me to open them.
I couldn’t move, my legs were trembling, when I was finally able to move my hands I crossed them on my chest to prevent my towels from falling off.
I saw his hand withdrew to put the cereal in his mouth. He placed the spoon on the plate gently. He moved closer and used his index finger to trace my lower lips then the upper. He bent to peer into my eyes and stared for what felt like a decade but couldn’t be more than five seconds and whispered, ” there is something about you, your eyes…”
He left the rest of the sentence open, hanging like my head hours after he departed.
He turned once to stare for a while then left as if he was never there.
Sometimes, I felt I only imagined it that it didn’t happen. But I couldn’t bathe for two days or speak to anyone else till the end of the program.
My friend kept asking and wondering what happened but I couldn’t tell her. Or tell anyone else till now. I couldn’t tell his son who I was going out with then because I didn’t want him to hate or think less of his father.
I was terrified, shocked. Then I hated myself and felt guilty that the devil in me had tempted another responsible man, a man of God, a responsible father, to sin, again.
I kept blaming myself for eating in the kitchen, for wearing only bra and towels, for exposing my chest and tempting someone else.
That is what they always say, “my eyes made them sin or my body tempted them.
How could I tell someone what transpired between us? He was an Elder, a well respected one. It was my fault, so I believed then.
My relationship with his son failed. I never stopped seeing his father’s face looming above me or stopped hearing his voice telling me, ” there is something about your eyes”.
I changed my dressing to strictly polo shirts, round necks, I added jean trousers after another episode.
No one should tell a traumatised, molested or raped victim when they speak out, if they speak out or if they don’t.
You can’t say how you would react in or to a situation until it happens to you because no years of planning or rehearsing can prepare you for an unfortunate event. That is if you are sick enough to anticipate it happening to you.
I am fast with an amazing fast reflex, it didn’t help when I was hit by a truck. I wasn’t fast enough that day. I couldn’t push the Elder away even though I am bigger than him. I just stood there, watched and trembled.
Besides, we react to situations in different ways, we fight, we flight, we go in shock. I was shocked, I couldn’t imagine someone who scolded me for not being modest to touch me.
When someone is bold enough to #standforthetruth, #speakforthetruth, we should stand with them.
If we can’t, we should let them be. If we doubt them we should keep our doubts to ourselves.
Why? We should do it for every one else who couldn’t speak out for fear of discrimination and judgement.
We should do it for our children who are being secretly molested by people we don’t know yet, so they can be bold enough to voice out. Believe me, they wouldn’t if they’ve ever heard you judging someone who voiced out.
I am writing this now because I believe I am over it. It can no longer hurt me. Now, I know it wasn’t my fault, not my looks or my eyes or my boobs. It was his fault.
Now, I don’t care what anyone says.
Women should fight for the womenfolk, for our children, if no one else would.
We should say #notorape, #notorapist.