It’s been a few weeks since May 27 when Uwa, a female undergraduate from the University of Benin was raped and murdered. I do not want us to forget. It is not something to forget. On the 26th of March, Tina, a 16-year-old girl, in SS2, who lived in Bariga was shot by a police officer. Sadly, she is also deceased now. On the 11th of May, many of us heard Jennifer’s story, an 18-year-old who was gang-raped by 5 boys in Kaduna. As you can imagine, she is in a terrible state of trauma.
All this information is very triggering but it was necessary to begin this article with them. These are dark days for Nigerian women. Worse is that many victims who have constantly had to live in fear get blamed for their experiences.
Sadly, the fight for justice can be just as overwhelming. From confronting rape apologists to tackling century-old patriarchal structures. In these moments, women should know that it is okay to go off the grid and recharge. It is not a sign of weakness. And it does not mean you do not care about the plight of Uwa, Tina or Jennifer. It only means that you have decided to protect your mental space because these triggers can be unhealthy even for you.
Am I asking you to down tools and give up the fight? No! But there is a place to briefly recharge, especially when you think it is becoming too much for you. We all know that there is always a stupid comment somewhere, someone trying to blame victims or ridicule their plight. Do not feel compelled to engage or educate. Know it is not your duty especially at a time like this to inform ignorant minds. Do not let them drain you or tap into you.
Unsee every form of trigger. One of the insensitive things you find on social media is the willingness and eagerness people seem to have when it comes to sharing dehumanizing photos. I do not think victims want to be remembered in such brutal manners and frankly, it does more harm than good to anyone. So shield yourself from such triggers, mute, block, unfollow, do what you need to do to secure your emotional state.
Seek allyship and comfort. We can never take for granted the joy of having people in our corner. Talk to people who understand you, are experiencing what you are going through. Share, and unpack your fears in a judgment-free zone. Kinship is important, talk to women who you know are equally bothered, and seek solace.
It is tough out there, unplug, take some time off social media, recharge. I know it is sad, I know you feel helpless, I know you are scared, I am too. But we are standing in solidarity, with one voice, screaming for justice and we will not stop until everyone listens to us.
Stay Safe. Stay Sane. Stay Loved.