In a very small voice, she says: ‘Who will believe me?’ ‘I am nobody’. ‘I made mistakes too.’ ‘I’m ashamed’, ‘I sent my pictures’, ‘I sexted’, ‘I accepted money’, ‘I was afraid’, ‘I was a virgin, he forced me’, ‘I’ve never been kissed and he sullied my lips’, ‘People think I’m over reacting’, ‘I respect him’, ‘He’s my spouse/friend/mentor”, ‘He’s very influential’, ‘He threatened me not to speak about it’, ‘I’ve have a rough past, no one will believe me’, ‘He’s a famous pastor, politician, singer, writer, entrepreneur’, ‘I’ve don’t want to put myself out there’….
Too many voices like hers came to us from different spheres of our national life: Politics, Education, Corporate, Literary world, Religious arena etc. Some as young as primary/secondary school kids! No one should ever be stripped or manipulated of their power, especially by older and more experienced folks!
And I say to her: ‘Over the next few months my team and I will show you that we can walk in your shoes, make the mistakes, do the dirty sex talk, love foolishly, send racy pictures, put everything on the line. And still show you what strong really looks like. HOW your past or your mis-steps should never make you feel LESS than whole; how it is never okay to settle for any form of abuse, either from strangers or trusted people. HOW you must remember to walk with your head held high like the queen you are!
How NOTHING can ever diminish who you are. How you can learn to do and be different. To prove to you that you have a voice and you have boundaries and you must NEVER have that stifled or breeched by anyone, no matter the intimidation or clout or power they seem to have. In the end YOU are a powerful daughter of a King.’
And so to interrupt UNHEALTHY patterns of behaviour, we set out to engage and enter the models of the world of so many different people and re-construct HOW their M.O manifests. To understand at a deeply layered level, how these awesome creatures of God could be who they are and do the things they do. Mentors, Teachers, Employers, Benefactors, Religious authority figures, Politicians etc. It is so easy for these folks to be corrupted by SHero/Hero worship and thus abuse their authority.
And because there are no consequences, the patterns of abuse just escalates. Even seemingly good people easily fall into this trap. In the end, we seek to use UNCONDITIONAL LOVE as a prism to solve these problems. It is the birthplace of true transformation. To hold people accountable with love and honour, from a place of deep caring.
Accountability is not about name calling or blind punishment or vendetta or malicious revenge. It is about taking responsibility that our actions And we live in such a judmental, permissive, sycophantic, patriarchal society where seemingly innocuous acts of abuse are out of the consciousness or awareness of those who inflict them. (Some are now so divorced from reality, so delusional based on this world of denial we’ve all co-created). And those who are at the receiving end now accept this at as the norm. It is an ANOMALY; we must shift our mindsets.
may cause harm to others and justice must be exchanged as restitution. It is a matter of reciprocity, a univerasl law of the harvest. It allows us to hold accountable those we love and admire in order to truly change/transform. Accountability is one of the greatest acts of love we can entrench in our consciousness.
You see, it is so easy to hold distant strangers accountable, the real task for all of us is holding ourselves, family members, friends, lovers, mentors, employers, benefactors, religious and political leaders accountable. It is an issue all over Africa. our notion of respect to young people is to falsely teach them that holding an OLDER person accountable is DISRESPECT. This fuels the culture of sexual abuse, domestic violence and corruption…
It calls for a deeply layered and multi-pronged, multi-model approach. It requires that we build strong communities of support in different sectors. From corporate, politics to religious, education to literary circles, especially among women, it is important that young girls easily identify a group of older / experienced experts they can go to when they face any form of abuse.
We need parents to talk more openly to/with their children at a very young age about these things. We need more workshops/seminars/awareness programs by women at the top for younger girls, so that they to share tips, strategies, warning signals, resilience mechanisms and create awareness about the protocols to seek redress, in a safe environment. We need to share more. ALL form of abuse thrive in the dark, in an atmosphere of dis-empowered SILENCE. When we #ShatterTheSilence, creative solutions will begin to emerge.
The more young people are free to talk about their challenges and bad experiences, the more creative solutions will emerge, collaboratively. Sometimes, all they need is to have someone believe them and believe in them. Someone that will look them in the eye and speak to their soul and say: “Yes, this really happened. You are not making it up. You are right to honour your feelings and feel rage, sadness, guilt, shame, hurt, HOWEVER, you must channel these feelings in a healthy way.
You are NOT your feelings. Although your feelings are VALID that does not make them you. You will survive this. You will thrive. It is not right. There should and will be consequences. You have a voice. You are right if you seek a deserving apology and repercussions. You are right is you choose to honour your privacy and not speak about this. You are right in seeking closure. You are right in working to make sure it does not continue or happen to others, You are RIGHT with God….”
Silence is not always golden. We must as a matter of urgency teach our young ones to become more aware of their personal boundaries and to SPEAK OUT with authority and confidence, and to stamp out/down anyone who breaches or crosses the line, regardless of whether they are employers, benefactors, mentors or people of influence! Together, WE can co-create sustainable change and transformation!
Love, Light & Truth!
💕-Cyber-hugs, Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido
(You can also find me here: julietkego.com)