Whenever I reflect back on my life and wonder about the repeated occurrences of sexual abuse, I realize that we sometimes make choices that put us in harms way; choices that are facilitated by middle men who care more about the money we give them than the life we are going to live abroad. Looking back at all that happened makes me cry, but now I am looking forward to my future and how I intend to use my story to change the lives of as many girls and women as possible and it gives me hope.
My first attempt for greener pastures out of my country was in August 2010. I left Cameroon for my masters in Norway, with no perfect plans of survival. On arriving Norway I knew I had already made it big. It is everyone’s dream in Cameroon, to travel abroad, whether for greener pasture or for holiday. But after two months in the student hostel, I couldn’t pick up a job and all the money I had on me was finished. I looked everywhere for a job, but there was no success. As a last option, I decided to look for a church and start fellowshipping. I thought that if I find a church, I might meet some African brothers and sisters who may be willing to help me. But before the idea of looking for a church came up, I had been helping an African (Ghana/Zambian) couple to take care of their baby girl of about 9months both day and night in exchange for food. Yes, just food.
My first sexual Abuse
So finally, I found an African church a few blocks from my hostel. I was so happy my fellow Africans will connect me to any job so that I can save up some money for my school and family back home. But it was even worst there because I found no one to link me to any opportunity. By the way, there were a few others there who were also looking for help. Unfortunately, my rent finally expired and I became homeless. Luckily, one of the men in the church, who is almost 50 and above offered me a space in his apartment. I was so happy and a few days later I moved in with him. He was so God fearing, so I thought, and he was the assistant pastor of the church. He was married but his wife was in Africa (Ghana). For a week, everything was going on well in the house until one unfortunate day, he approached me for sex. I felt so bad, really bad. I felt so sad. I felt so disappointed that the man of God, whom I trust with my problems, will turn around and want to have sex with me just because he is housing me. On several occasions, I tried to resist but he shamelessly told me that in as much as we are God fearing, we are all humans. It was winter period and everywhere was snowing; I had nowhere to go, no one else to house me, so I was forced to play along with his demands. We started having sex. That went on for almost one year until I was no longer confortable.
So one day on my way from school I received a text from this my abuser that I should leave his house. He said this because I had been refusing his demands for almorst two weeks. Sometimes I even lock my door, he will knock it for hours and I will not open it. To punish me, he refused me food and even little cash for my bus cards because I stopped having sex with him. I had to stop! It was not easy for me. I was just tired of the guilt and the sex thing going on. We had sex every day, and on weekends maybe four times a day. I was tired of drinking hot drinks for fear I will get pregnant because I had my fiancé back in Africa (Cameroon). This wasn’t me, I thought. I cried in my quiet moments. But I was desperate and vulnerable, and I had no one else to turn to.
My second sexual abuse
Good thing is, I was into Internet friendships. I had made some girlfriends in some faraway village in the north of Norway. After the one year of abuse, and after he sent me the text message to leave, I left his house one cold winter evening and I spend two nights at the train station with no destination in mind. One of my online Norwegian girl friend and his dad drove a long distance to come and pick me up. We finally arrive their little town after one day of driving by car. There I had to stop school because it was very far from my school. But I was so happy that a new dawn has come. I was so happy to be in the comfort of a Norwegian family that was ready to accommodate me. I sang songs of praise
What I did not know was that my friend will leave their house so soon. She left me with his dad one week after my arrival. I was left with his father who was divorced and of age 58, by then in 2011. He was so nice at first but later he went into the same demand as the Ghanaian man; he started making sexual advances. Once more, Francisca was helpless. I was so helpless that I had to give in. The sex thing commenced, and as it reached a high level, one thing came to my mind -- I thought I could easily get my stay in Norway through him, but things didn’t work out as I was thinking. This guy was a sailor and a womanizer. I stayed there with him for almost another one year until I started having some mental problems that almost took my mind away. I was depressed and losing it. I needed to return home to regain my sanity. Then my Norwegian man friend did well to pay me my flight ticket to return home. I returned home in 2012 but again, all was not well because I couldn’t cope with the unemployment and poverty going on around me. I had to look for another alternative to look for greener pasture.
My third sexual abuse
In May 2015, I found an opportunity in Kuwait, through middle man in Cameroon which I thought was great. I was told I was going to teach English in Kuwait on a good salary. Without waste of time, I compiled my documents and in under no time, I headed to Kuwait. But as I got to the airport in Kuwait, I was introduced to my employer. I tried to find out what employment that was and I was told I was going to work as a domestic servant. It was another shock of my life but there was nothing I could do. I thought I had had so many shocks of my life, but this was the biggest shocker. I had no choice, I had to follow him, put on my domestic servant uniform and resume work. The working conditions were horrible, but I decided to manage. Close to three months of my stay, the worse happened.
One day, my Kuwait employer, after his wife and two sons went on vacation, he asked me to help massage him; he claimed he slipped off from the stairs. He said the doctor has advised that he should be massaged on his buttocks. I refused to do it, I advised him to go to a massage spar, but he refused and said I must do it for him and that I should remember there is no “No” in the dictionary of his house. So I was forced to be massaging him. After two days of massaging him, he tore my housemaid dress and forced his way in me. He raped me. He continued raping me for a week until I found my way to run away from his house and seek refuge at The Central African Republic Embassy in Kuwait; Cameroon has no embassy there.
While in slavery with my Kuwaiti master, I was reaching out to many humanitarian organizations that are fighting against human trafficking, and so one of them in New York City called “Freedom For All” paid my return air fare to Cameroon.
My story of sexual abuse between the years 2010 to 2015 may sound like an unrealistic movie, but this is what I went through. After going through all of these, especially this last ordeal in Kuwait, it sparked up the zeal in me to fight against all this human wrongs. So I now run an organization called Survivors' Network (SN), in Kumba, Cameroon, which is made up of female survivors of human trafficking who have come together to fight against Human trafficking and modern day slavery. We use all available media and move door to door to sensitize the population on the ills of human trafficking. We discourage parents from sending their children abroad without a properly defined mission. I have personally had radio and tv appearances at home and abroad; talking about my ordeal and sensitizing the population.
Being a victim of human trafficking and sexual abuse at the same time is hard, but coming out of it and working against it makes me feel like I am on a mission to help as many girls and women from succumbing to the same fate. Even though for some people these experiences could be deemed a failure, I see all these events as an opportunity for me to free Cameroonian girls and women first from the shackles of slavery and trafficking, and then hopefully the world. I feel complete, today,tomorrowand forever!
These are links to some of my works;
CNN Freedom Project, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9a2nAIkYxKg
PBS, Newshour, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pOLtyg-UyqE&t=13s
LTM TV station,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tfom6YhjTVw
Batimum FM Brussels, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAJqJzkUOsg
Please follow me on our website,www.survivorsnetwork.co
Our twitter page,
Our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/sncameroon/
Our emails are,
Email 2:[email protected]