This is Cherish (surname withheld). She will clock 21 years in November this year, an only daughter in a family of three. She said Sunday, February 21, 2021, remains the worst day of her life. That is the day she was raped.
The Port Harcourt based undergraduate told EDITH CHUKU in this exclusive interview, that she was a virgin before she was sexually assaulted while looking for money to safe her sick mother’s life.
Tell us your story?
Hmm! My name is Cherish, the most confused and wounded girl on earth. I have load and burden I cannot bear alone, I just feel like exploding sometimes, but don’t know where to run to, who to go to.
What exactly happened to you?
It happened on Sunday, the 21st of February this year. My mum was terribly sick, and my father was having serious financial crisis. The hospital demanded for N120,000.00 for my mother’s treatment; my dad didn’t know where to get such money, so he asked me if I knew anyone that could help give us such loan, so, I decided to call and beg him for help.
Who is he?
He was our neighbour in our former compound; he had asked me out when we were in same compound but I refused. I was too small for that kind of thing and he already had a girlfriend who had given birth to two children for him. He was very close to my parents, so I felt telling him the condition of my mother would make him help us.
So, what happened?
I called him; he sympathized with me and promised to help. He said he had cash, so asked me to meet him somewhere in Eliozu.
Was he lending it to you, or it was a gift?
No, it was supposed to be a loan which my dad promised to refund by that February ending.
Was your dad aware of who was giving you the money?
No, I didn’t tell him. I wanted to get the money first and surprise him so he stops worrying, he was still recovering from stroke, now this one.
Are you the first child?
No, my brothers are, I don’t want to talk about it, please.
So, what happened next?
I went because we needed the money, I don’t want my mother to die, and my dad was suffering too much, he told me it was his friend’s place when he directed me to Eliozu. When I got to the place, we met and I followed him to the vicinity, when we got there, I saw about nine guys seated outside, smoking and drinking. I was really scared, seriously terrified at that point, I didn’t know he wanted to rape me, I didn’t know this was going to happen, I didn’t know, (takes some time to relax)
Did he force you to follow him inside?
No, sincerely, he did not. There were neighbours around, decent looking. I greeted them and they responded very well, that made me feel better. He asked me to come inside the house, and I followed him because the smell of the weed they were taking was disturbing me seriously and I just wanted to take the money and leave. Immediately I entered, he locked the door and the only window, then I knew I was in trouble, he immediately grabbed my waist, and warned me not to shout, took my phone and threw inside his wardrobe, then I started struggling to free myself from him. Hmm! He grabbed a knife on the table and threatened to kill me, he said if I shout that his boys outside will rape me one after the other, and nothing will happen. He said nobody will save me because people mind their business there, that I should just cooperate.
I guess at that point you gave up?
with the knife to remove my cloth, my pant and lie down, I begged him that I was still a virgin, he smiled and said that is exactly what he wants, he slept with me until he was satisfied, even while I was crying that it was painful, he did not stop.
And the money?
When he finished, he shouted at me to leave, that I had stained his friend’s bed, I stood up, managed to wear my cloths and came out, immediately I came outside I fainted. When I opened my eyes around past seven that evening, I was on drip in a lady’s house, in that same compound. They told me when I fainted the guys outside were laughing. So, she and two other neighbours carried me into her house and called someone to put drip on me, she also cleaned my blood and wore me her cloths.
Why didn’t you go to the police immediately?
Hmm! My mother was lying very sick in the hospital, my father was just recovering from stroke, my mother would have just died on the hospital bed.
How is your mum now?
She is getting better, she is at home now.
And your dad?
He is fine.
What about the hospital bill?
My uncles and aunts helped us raise the money.
How do you feel now?
Regrets. Sunday, 21st of February this year is the worst day of my life. I will never forget it, I will not, but thank God I am alive, though I have lost my virginity but I will never be wayward in life, I just need help, I need guidance, I don’t want to make mistakes again.