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I am Tope and this is my story: “I lost my mum at a very tender age and I never got to know her, and it seems all my misfortunes were as a result of not having a mother figure in my life. I grew up with my grandmother and two male cousins (six and ten years older than I am). At age 12, my cousins started making sexual advances at me and finally forced me into having sex with them in the same house, concurrently (this went on for about a decade). When I gained admission into the university, I was so happy because I wasn’t going to live with my cousins any longer, but my happiness came to a halt when my Father insisted that I was going to live in the same room with them, while in school, for security reasons. Little did he know I wasn’t so secure even with them, after all. I refused the idea of staying in the same accommodation with them and decided to squat with a friend. When my Father questioned my decision, I told him the whole truth about the happenings in the past decade. Sadly, when my cousins were confronted they denied everything, they even went as far as saying I was into prostitution and my friend, whom I was staying with, is my “partner-in-crime.” The most painful part was my father and grandmother believed every word they said, and they see me as a prostitute in my own home! For this reason, my whereabout is always questioned especially when I’m home on holidays. This made me prefer to spend the holidays with my fiancé than with my family. Now, here’s the major problem… I feel dead emotionally towards my fiancé. Any form of bodily affection, like kissing or even holding hands, makes me sad and I find myself crying. The thought of sex makes me think of my cousins and I feel like I’m being raped as that was how the only guys I’ve had sex with, made me feel. My fiancé wants us to get married and suggested I get help so he recommended “The One Habitat” to me. “The One Habitat” are a pleasurable people to identify with, because they listen and counsel. I was glad i sought their help. Counsel: There are many people out there going through the same ordeal and trauma as Tope, yet they are quiet about it, or can’t freely express themselves. We are proud of her for seeking help. None of the things that has happened to this young lady is her fault or is as a result of loosing her mother, life happens to us all in one way or the other, especially while growing up. Tope was advised to dedicate her time to activities that would take her mind off the horrible experience, and being a religious person who prays, she is encouraged to pray and build a deeper relationship with her God and healing would come, gradually. She was reminded that her past does not define her being a lovable person, she can also learn to love in return. Thankfully, she has a fiancé, who is willing to hold her hand and walk through it with her this is an answered prayer! She was advised to pay attention to her body warning signals. For example, whenever she comes in body contact with him, due to past experiences, her body will send her signals that would make her sad and she could breakdown crying. To help with this, she was told to try taking a deep breath and reassure herself this is the present, the past is over and she survived it. She is to feel free to play with him, laugh with him, hold hands, do things that regular lovers would do and these would help in the healing process. We advised her to create a wonderful picture of him in her mind to replace the ugly pictures of the past. In our parting words to her: “We know this might be hard for you, but eventually you will heal and flourish, and you will start to feel like yourself again, so don’t give up hope.”

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