Over the weekend, Nigeria’s social media exploded when Busola Dakolo, wife of popular Nigerian musician Timi Dakolo, accused the senior pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly COZA of raping her when she was 17 years old. She went into detail in an hour long interview of the ordeal. As awful as these revelations were, what made it worse was the response from many Nigerians. It really showed me that people have no idea about trauma, and what happens to the human mind and body when it is traumatized. I have decided to use this platform to do a bit of education on some of the common questions that came up.
1) ‘Why didn’t she scream?’- Contrary to popular belief, the human body has various ways that it responds to scary events. Some of the most popular ones are fight or flight. A popular example people use is, if a lion is in front of you, you either run or you fight the lion. As true as that is, an often forgotten response is freezing. Have you ever been in a scary situation and you just freeze, you can’t shout, you can’t move, you just freeze. Not everyone shouts or fights when being assaulted. Some people freeze. The trauma caused so much shock to their system that they can’t even move. So for those who ask those questions, that is why. Freezing is a legitimate biological response to fear.
2) ‘Why is she just saying it now?’- This one is very simple, because she wants to. Nobody, neither you nor me, can decide when someone else is done processing their trauma. Let’s think of it like this. Two siblings may loose their parents. One sibling grieves for six months and is fine, the other grieves for five years, and is still working through it. Both of their responses are valid. Another example. Two soldiers go to war. They fight side by side in the same battle. They loose the same friends to war. When they return, one is able to integrate into society without a hitch, the other has nightmares and triggers and has developed post traumatic stress disorder (ptsd). The point is that it could have taken her 20 years to accept this horrible thing that happened to her and her response is still valid. Think about it, there are things in your life that you have never talked about. Maybe cause it wasn’t the right time, or you don’t know how to say it, or you think people won’t understand. This is her truth, her reality, and she can share it whenever she feels most comfortable, which is now.
3) ‘This her story no too make sense o’- The truth often doesn’t make sense. I remember one day I was in the car telling a group of my American friends about some escapades I would have with my cousins in Nigeria. One of them said, that sounds so unreal, I can’t even believe that would happen. In my head I was like ‘what is this one even saying? Something I was there o’, but in her defense, this is not a reality that she has ever encountered. She can’t even imagine something like that and so to her it can’t even be possible to happen. That’s often what happens with traumatic events. People who have never experienced it often can’t imagine something like that even being possible. They want a neatly packed story that makes sense, but often it doesn’t. All that makes sense is that it is the truth. You can seat from here till next year analyzing all the possible loopholes in the story, but at the end, the truth is the truth.
There are many more things I have seen online. Some people have slandered Busola saying she was having an affair with the pastor and was ashamed, others have decided that it is impossible for a man of God to commit such heinous acts, others still have concluded that she is just pulling a publicity stunt to sell her husband’s music. All of it is nonsense. This woman is married to a famous person, with three children and has everything to loose. She stands nothing to gain by accusing a wealthy pastor of rape. It is not easy to come out and tell your story like that and especially in a country like Nigeria, she is very brave.
I want to say thank you to all this who came out in support of her. Thank you to those who used their platforms to educate and spread awareness. Thank you to all the survivors who have shared their stories. Thank you to those who have protested online and in person. Thank you to those seeking justice. Thank you to Timi Dakolo for being the strength his wife needed in order to come forward and share her story. Thank you to Busola for helping the nation to start a much needed conversation about sexual assault, harassment and rape.