April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and we at our Association focus more on rape victims, using their stories and gruelling challenges to raise awareness on the devastating effects of this monstrous atrocity.
Let's go, first things first;
There is no specific law on Rape alongside a decree of application in Cameroon - this paralyzes the speedy prosecution of rape cases, whenever anyone has the courage to even report them. All we have for rape is a section in the penal code with some lousy sanctions which could even bring more of shame and pain than not; 2) The Stigma is still so strong and this is both from within and from the society; 3) The psychologocal damage is not one that could be easily seen or stitched. Worse than the broken hymen is the mind muggle of unworthiness confirmed by your helplessness at having been abused and so violated to your core, sometimes by one you called Papa or looked up to as guardian/authority of sort; 4) Emotional damage is most glaring when the victim can't have relationships or normal ones anymore, due to highly fluctuating emotions, mood imbalances and very unhealthy attachment patterns. There is thus poor communication of needs, no full understanding of self, not to talk of knowledge of real love; 5) Physical damage. Feeling of unworthiness leads to excessive self criticism. Self loathing could lead to eating disorders and dysmorphophobia (fear of feeling good about your body as is - A mental illness involving obsessive focus on a perceived flaw in appearance.)...we can imagine more and more and more...I mean what do we say about risk of pregnancy or diseases?; 6) Spiritual damage. What do you mean there is a God? Before He let me an innocent child be raped? Or, what do you mean I should tone down on how long I spend in church one God's presence when He saved me from death? ( Some have been raped to death remember Fortune and co); 7) Timeless travails. It could last a lifetime, especially if victim is young and nothing is done for rehabilitation, healing, forgiveness etc
What Can be done?
1) Prevention they say is better than cure - I don't know if rape can be fully prevented given the current grueling statistics in Cameroon; just google and read, I can't find links to some recent reports; 2) Cure - Holistic and prompt cure is what our association is more focused on. There are already many victims out there, someone has to help them and we are trying our own mite - abusers may need help too, but we are not focusing on them unfortunately - locking them up is a more palliative option for us; 3) Stop the stigma; this one is another 'rape' on its own in my opinion. When rape cases are not reported inorder to preserve family honour; when victims themselves don't tell for fear of losing some marriage material left in them; when society knows and treats victims or survivors like some less than and good for nothing pity party queens/kings no matter what they do? 4) Support those who are engaged in 1,2,3 above in anyway you can. Mustn't always be financial support; 5) Show empathy and understand that full rehabilitation and reintegration of some victims could last near a life time, or be a 'merry go round sort of experience' Bonus for Kids from Experience Stop any blame and reassure them with double love while doing whatever else you are doing
We have a center, currently in our founder's home. We can house 2/3 victims at a time. We focus on psychotherapeutic support, medical follow up and equally offer legal assistance as needed. Our founder is a lawyer and psychotherapist so these services are readily available. We appreciate all donations and support of all nature.
At H4AB, we want to #BetheHope , do not hesitate to reach out to us if you need help in the midst of any hopeless situation.